For sale, a rare late Victorian cased champagne or soda water test gauge by Hayward Tyler & Co.
Otherwise known as an aphrometer, this highly unusual piece takes the form of a champagne tap of the type that were widely retailed from about 1880 onwards by such companies as Farrow & Jackson and Maw & Son for tapping champagne bottles and maintaining their freshness.
The end culminates with a removable spear point which is used initially to pierce a bottle cork and once the shaft is screwed through to the base of the cork, the shaft drops into the bottle allowing access to the liquid through the hollow interior. The top of the shaft contains a simple shut off valve which contains the aerated contents of the bottle until it is required.
This instrument uses the same principle to allow access to the bottle contents but includes the addition of a simple manometer attached to the threaded end of the base. Once the valve was opened, the existing pressure of the carbon dioxide within the bottle would allow a manufacturer or brewer to check the quality of the product by means of the pressure reading.
The gauge is contained within a brass housing with white ceramic dial readings 0-100 bar of pressure and is completed to the centre with the words, “test gauge” and the manufacturer’s name, “Hayward Tyler & Co, London” to the base.
The gauge retains its original black leather covered, tear drop hinged case with green velvet interior and is stamped in gilt lettering to the aerated beverage maker, “R. Fry & Co” of Brighton.
The manufacturer, Hayward Tyler was born in 1795 in London to a family of Quakers and initially formed a family brass founding company under the name of Hayward Tyler & Co. In the 1830’s the Tylers dissolved the company by mutual consent and Hayward shortly afterwards formed a partnership with a Theodore Lloyd which lasted until 1846 whereafter he was sole owner of the company until his death in 1855.
The company maintained its name following Tyler’s death and was sold to a Robert Luke Howard who was joined by his brother Eliot in 1863. The basis for the company’s history which still exists today was built in this period when in 1866, it began to advertise itself as the maker of Bramah’s patent soda water machine. The Bramah family and its ingenuity needs little introduction so the close affiliation with this prestigious firm put Hayward Tyler & Co on a firm footing and in 1885 the Bramah manufacturing business (the lock business was separated in 1841) was eventually taken over by the company following the death of then owner, William Russell. They continue to provide hydraulic pumps and valves for industry to this day.
The gilt lettering to the front of the case also provides some insight into the history of this piece. The name R. Fry & Co or Fryco as it was alternatively named was a huge manufacturer of aerated water and sodas and was established in 1874 in Brighton. It continued to produce sodas until it was eventually bought out by Schweppes in 1961.
This rare and unusual piece of brewing apparatus would have been used at the R Fry & Co premises in its earliest period and although unlikely to have been used for testing champagne as is commonly considered, would have been used for similar purposes.