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  • image L95

Samuel Rehe (c.1735 - 1799), maker

Mahogany stick barometer


Mahogany and brass

Height: 97.5 cm
Width: 9cm
Depth: 6.5cm

Museum number: L95

Curatorial note

In an arched case with moulded pediment, thumbnail mouldings flanking the trunk, the open cistern with vase-shaped cover, the silvered and engraved register plates with French and English inscriptions and measurement: English inches 27-31 on the left (Fair, Change, Rain) divided in decimals and French inches 25-29 on right (Beau Tems, Variable, Pluie) divided in 12 lignes; twin Vernier scales adjusted from below; signed S. Rehe London above the brass tube cap.

Samuel Rehe, a mathematical instrument maker, was a German mechanician born c.1735, who was in London by 1765 when he was working for the jeweller and clockmaker James Cox of 103 Shoe Lane. Among other clocks, he almost certainly played a major part in the development of Cox’s Perpetual Motion clock, which was exhibited in Cox's Spring Gardens Museum 1772-75 and is now in the V&A Museum (V&A: W.20:1-1961). It works by atmospheric pressure on a large glass cistern of mercury, like a barometer. After Cox's Museum closed in 1775, Rehe became an independent mechanician and scientific instrument maker, living in Shoe Lane by 1778, perhaps at no. 14 where he died in October 1799, aged 64.

Soane owned this barometer by 6 June 1791 when his Office Day Book records ‘A person from Mr. Rehe called & took with him the Barometer to be repaired’. It still hangs where Soane probably installed it when he moved into No 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields in 1812, on the left-hand end of the bookcase to the right of the north window of his Dining Room, where it can be seen in views dated 1822 and 1825. On 27 July 1796 Soane paid ‘S. Rehe for a Thermometer £1.1s’. Rehe also seems to have worked directly for Soane as a metalworker on at least one occasion: on 19 May 1792 Samuel Rehe was paid £18 for ‘a model of brass for the roof with iron rafters, pillars and fretwork, etc.’ over Soane’s Bank Stock Office. This model does not survive.

We are grateful to Dr Roger Smith for his updated biographical note on Rehe 2020


N. Goodison, English Barometers 1680-1860, London, 1977, p.352.

If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: worksofart@soane.org.uk