An early Victorian cast brass and bone desk thermometer by CA Canti & Son of New Peckham, London.
The thermometer is constructed of painted cast brass in the Gothic Revival style with arched top and figural motifs. It has a brass column to either side of the bone thermometer scale plate and four footed base with floral motifs. The scale plate contains the original thermometer which reads from thirty to one hundred Fahrenheit. The additional markings are for “blood heat, summer heat, temperate & freezing”. To the top of the scale plate is the manufacturer’s name of “CA Canti & Son”.
The Gothic Revival style of the piece was a very recognisable genre during the period, and was popularised by the likes of AWN Pugin and John Ruskin. The most prominent example of the style can still be seen in the Houses of Parliament which was rebuilt over a 30 year period from the 1830’s to the 1860’s after a devastating fire. It is therefore, understandable that the decorative architectural motifs of the style began to feed into decorative objects that were manufactured at the time.
This is a rare and early style of desk thermometer, I have seen one other which was retailed by Negretti & Zambra and states their first address at 11 Hatton Gardens (1850 – 1859). The makers in this instance are CA Canti & Son, who were one of numerous Italian emigres who moved to England in the early nineteenth century and set up as scientific instrument makers. It is likely that the family first settled in Kent in and around 1815 where the records provide evidence for the family residing in Town Malling. The business of CA Canti & Son is further stated as trading in Holborn, London from 1820 – 1850 at 16 Brooke Street in London. This piece has further interest as it states, the place of business of New Peckham, London therefore it is likely that the father and son partnership moved as a result of the new development of Peckham that happened in the 1860’s. Peckham New Town as it was then called, was primarily focussed around Peckham Hill Street and it is likely that the business traded from that road. Most of the available literature on this company suggest that this company ceased trading after 1850 so the change of address has thus far remained undiscovered to scholars.