Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Outdoor Thermometers... Antique and New


In the Garden...Outdoor Thermometers
*The one to the right was my Grandmother's from the 1930's.

All gardeners use the tools of our trade. Trowels, spades, hoes, rakes, wheelbarrows aside, many gardeners become somewhat obsessed with measurement. Soil conditions, moisture levels, and above all the outdoor temperature become paramount. The rain gauge and thermometer are necessary for all garden d├ęcors for the simple pleasures they provide.

Tools for measurement of temperature, first called thermoscopes, have existed since the mid-1500’s with Santorio the first inventor to place a numerical scale on the object. In 1714 we have Gabriel Fahrenheit to thank for his invention of the first mercury thermometer and our current temperature scale which bears his name.

Fascination with temperature has always existed however with the advent of promoted product advertising, their mass production reached a fever pitch. By the early twentieth century thermometers embossed with a business logo were given as gifts to patrons of insurance companies, lumber yards, mills, dry goods stores, gas companies, coffee brands, sodas and practically any business imagined. The variety and quality of these items range from expensive wood with beveled glass, to brightly painted pressed tin, and even to inexpensive plastic.

The shere breadth of this range indicates that prior to television, individuals took it upon themselves to check the weather and did so with a passion. So popular was this mass produced advertising tool that entire price books for the surviving artifacts have been published placing the value from a few to literally hundreds of dollars. Surprisingly, there is a National Vintage Thermometer Club! Practically every yard, barn, farm house, or garage still has one of these vintage items placed strategically in a corner so perhaps seek it out and find its true value. Possibly it deserves more respect than it is getting.

Today modern technology has ushered in every sort of temperature measuring device ranging in price from economical to expensive. Decorative, utilitarian, fun or frivolous, electric or digital and even indoor-outdoor combinations are available, making the game of checking the temperature easier than possibly imagined. With simple outdoor weather gauges placed in strategic places about the yard, hours of enjoyment are available if one is willing to dash from sun to shade, road to path, garden to lawn making a mental note of the temperature differences in those areas. Have fun!

In the Chicken House... a little rough in there!