Wheel barometeres were a comparatively novel form of recording the weather in this period, hitherto the more common form was that of the stick or angle barometer. The most obvious feature of this barometer is its resemblance to a longcase clock. John Hallifax of Barnsley, 1694-1750, was the most famous exponent of this type of barometer, however the maker of this barometer took the idea that much further creating a more impressive and refined version. Instead of the recording hand in the centre of the trunk, as on a Hallifax barometer, they transferred it to the main dial thus cleverly simulating the minute hand, and by employing a hygrometer in the arch simulated the strike/silent or date ring in a longcase clock. To carry the idea that much further the maker has used a trunk door with a hinged back and glazed front to display Rice Williams' thermometer. Similarly the hood which is screwed down on a Hallifax barometer but hinged on the present barometer like that of a longcase clock so that the recording hand may be moved.
Very little is known about Rice Williams. The only record of his business is the trade-card from the Heal Collection in the British Museum (B.M. 85) which portrays him to be a general manufacturer of opthalmic and scientific instruments.