Jason Clarke Antiques

Late Victorian Tipping Bucket Recording Rain Gauge by Callaghan & Co of London


For sale, a late Victorian tipping bucket recording rain gauge by Callaghan & Co of 23a New bond Street, London.

Comprised of a black painted two-part zinc case with a graduated base and graduated lift off cover with central hole and siphon to receive rainfall and deliver it to an internal tipping bucket mechanism. An unusually pristine opaline glass dial measures an inch of rainfall around the outer circumference, with a secondary centre dial allowing for up to 25 inches of rainfall and a hand operated dial pointer for recording current observations.

It is complete with the maker’s name of Callaghan & Co, 23a New Bond Street, Corner of Conduit Street, London.

This exact model featured in the James Hicks catalogues of the late Victorian and Edwardian periods and is described as follows:

“The dial recording rain gauge has a receiver with an area of 100 square inches. The rain which passes through the receiver falls into a bucket, divided into two parts. After the rain has filled one side it falls over and empties itself, the other half of the bucket coming into position to receive the water. This moves forward the hand one division of the dial, representing .01 of an inch of rainfall, and so on. The gauge is quite automatic and requires no attention.

It registers up to 25 inches, has an index, which can be set by hand, fitted to record the result of the last observation made.

The dial of opal glass is very distinct, the receiver is secured by two thumbscrews, so that the wind cannot move it, and over the small inlet there is a cover to prevent the passing through of falling leaves etc.”

William Callaghan’s career began as an employee of the famous firm of Thomas Harris & Son.  It is likely that he was apprenticed there but he was certainly working for them in their Great Russell Street premises by 1841 after having attended the London Mechanic Institute. Sadly, little is known of Callaghan’s meteoric rise to fame but by 1851 he had exhibited at the Great Exhibition in his own right and had also managed to occupy premises at 23a New Bond Street.

The company continued until the mid-1870’s whereafter it was renamed Callaghan & Co suggesting a change of ownership or a passing to later members of the family but it seems to have flourished until the onset of The Great War. The company’s quality remained steadfast throughout and although their history is less well documented, instruments bearing the Callaghan name are always impressive. What is more impressive is the state of preservation of the dial which are often badly damaged, a rare survivor of this much sought after recording rain gauge by a very good London maker.

Circa 1890

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