Jason Clarke Antiques

Large Victorian Desk Thermometer by Henry Hughes & Son of 59 Fenchurch St, London


For sale, a magnificent Victorian desk thermometer of very large proportions by Henry Hughes & Son of 59 Fenchurch Street, London.

Comprised of a classical pedestal base with dome top upright in ebonised wood. The applied scale plate is engraved with both Fahrenheit & Reamur scales and has original lacquered brass fixings. The top of the scale is further engraved to the maker “H. Hughes & Son, 59 Fenchurch St, London”.

This style of desk thermometer is normally encountered in much smaller size. This luxurious example measures 30cms in height with a base that is 9cms square, certainly the largest of its type I have come across.

The retailer Henry Hughes came from a long line of London clockmakers but his scientific instrument making business was established in 1838. Noted for its life size wooden figure of a seaman with sextant displayed outside the front door, Hughes premises at Fenchurch Street (originally 120 but later renumbered to 59 in around 1859) was a popular destination for merchant and Royal Navy seaman alike and Hughes gained much business from the Admiralty in the nineteenth century due to the quality and precision of his instruments. The founder dies in 1879 leaving the business to his son Alexander and it was later incorporated as Henry Hughes & Son Ltd in 1903 running successfully until its premises were destroyed during the blitz in 1941. Owing to the devastation, Hughes entered into a collaboration with Kelvin, Bottomley & Baird in the same year and later amalgamated in 1947 to become Kelvin & Hughes. They continue to operate to this day under the name Kelvin Hughes Ltd under part ownership by ECI Partners.

Circa 1875

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