A very early and rare mountain stick barometer by Edward Troughton, London.
This seldom seen barometer was used throughout the nineteenth century by explorers and scientists (both amateur and professional) to gauge barometer readings associated with altitude. Variously known as a mountain barometer, surveyor’s barometers or ballooning barometers for the reasons mentioned above, they were conceived to allow these somewhat fragile instruments to be effectively used in a field environment.
Comprised of a beautifully crafted mahogany tripod and a fortin style barometer with a gimbal attachment that slots into the head of the tripod, the barometer is housed within a brass and mahogany tube with scale and Vernier for measurement readings to the head and a fortin style receptacle at the base with viewing window to allow the user to accurately zero rate the barometer before taking measurements in the required area. Furthermore, to the base of the barometer has a thermometer to allow for temperature adjustments to the reading.
When in transit, the barometer can be removed and then enclosed inside the tripod’s leg. Two brass rings of varying size are then slipped over the closed legs to keep the instrument firm within its housing whilst travelling.
The top of the scale is engraved to “Troughton London” a family of scientific instrument maker’s that were prolific and highly respected manufacturers from the mid eighteen century and throughout nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Dating of the instrument can be refined to within the period 1804 and 1826 when Edward Troughton combined the business with that of Williams Simms. Instruments were thereafter signed Troughton & Simms and the earlier date can be derived from the invention of the Fortin barometer in around 1800 by Jean Nicholas Fortin. Edward Troughton was trading on his own by 1804 and is therefore the only family member who could have been responsible for this superb instrument.
Edward Troughton was responsible for considerably expanding the Troughton’s reputation for quality during his lifetime. He was apprenticed to his brother John in 1770 and later formed a partnership with him named J&E Troughton. Following John’s retirement in 1804, he maintained the business in his own right and was elected a Fellow of The Royal Society in 1810. He was considered a peer of the great Jesse Ramsden, responsible for numerous developments in surveying and navigational instruments including the invention of the pocket sextant.
From 1826 Troughton and Simms was created by a merger with the business of William Simms and this company continued to trade until just after the Great War. In 1922 it merged with T Cooke & Sons to become, Cooke Troughton & Simms. The company still exists today and now trades as Cooke Optics Limited with a focus on cinematography lenses.
These barometers are very seldom seen on the market today and most are the later Victorian versions that lack the craftsmanship seen in these early examples. To find one made by the eminent Troughton family makes this example an extraordinarily rare piece.