Jason Clarke Antiques

Late Victorian Oak Cased The Life-Buoy Aneroid Barometer by Dollond, London


For sale, a late Victorian Cased “The Lifebuoy” aneroid barometer by Dollond for W Gregory of 51 The Strand, London.

Contained within a robust golden oak two-part case secured by eight brass screws placed around the front edge and with dish turned centre to provide a rebate in which to provide protection for the inset dial. The barometer itself is entirely protected within the case interior excepting the spun brass bezel and five-inch opaline glass dial with painted scale.

The dial has a completely circular scale measuring 26 to 31 inches of barometric pressure with weather indications provided on the inner and outer circumference. The centre dial is surrounded by a lifebuoy image with the words contained within, and the retailers name of W. Gregory, 51 Strand, London below.

It is completed with a blue steel pointer with crescent moon tail and a brass pointer operated through a robust bevel-edged glass. A very fine and rare example of a Victorian marine aneroid barometer.

William Gregory, the retailer of this barometer isn’t particularly well documented, it is likely that he originally took over the 51 Strand business from an instrument maker named, John Pallant who was trained by the Huggins family famed for their involvement in the Dollond business of the early Nineteenth Century. Pallant’s dates at 51 Strand are suggested to have ended in the 1860’s which would chime quite reasonably with Gregory’s early trading period, so it is feasible that he was an apprentice.

Gregory seems to have gained early ties with the British National Rifle Association which began in 1860 and much like JH Steward who must surely have been a close competitor, sired very close relationships with the armed services as a result. His relationship with the military is very well documented through a series of photographs taken by Gregory himself of various regiments in uniform during the final years of Victoria’s reign which are now housed in The National Army Museum Collection.

Gregory’s latter trading dates are also unclear, but this barometer confidently dates to the 1880’s when they were manufactured by Dollond and sold to various retailers with their names painted to the dial. Both Dollond and Negretti & Zambra were responsible for the manufacture of the famous RNLI aneroid barometer and both companies sought in various ways to further exploit this widely popular design into the domestic market. The rarity of these examples is perhaps telling of the success that Dollond gained in this endeavour, but this pleasing design has both elements of the RNLI barometer and the earlier iconic EJ Dent case designs. Gregory’s possible association with the Huggins family may also suggest that some wider trading relationship may have existed with the Dollond company, but this is unsubstantiated at this time.

A rare example of Dollond output during the period, coupled with a prominent London retailer name of the period and an even scarcer variant of the much sought after RNLI Fisherman’s aneroid barometer.

Circa 1880

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