Jason Clarke Antiques

Large Victorian Public Display Aneroid Barometer in Oak Case by Negretti & Zambra London


For sale, a huge Victorian public display aneroid barometer in original oak and glazed case by Negretti & Zambra of London.

This highly unsual aneroid barometer has a twelve inch silvered and star motif engraved dial measuring 27 to 31 inches of barometric pressure with weather indications beneath. It is further engraved with the word “compensated” to the top and with the maker’s name, “Negretti & Zambra London” and serial number of “17606”. The blued steel pointer is accompanied by two brass indicator hands, one engraved “10AM Yesterday” and the other with “10AM Today” allowing the observer to see the severity of the barometers movement in comparison with the previous reading. This feature was common on Negretti & Zambra’s mercury barometers during the period and became a standard during the Victorian period.

The black painted barometer casing measures 33cms in diameter when incorporating the polished brass bezel and 10cms in depth.

The barometer is hung and secured to the backboards of the golden oak case but can be removed if required. It has a hinged door with circular glass front and an original working lock and key and stepped cornice and pediment. To the front of the door above and below the circular glazing there are two brass plaques, the bottom stating the maker “Negretti & Zambra, London” and to the top another stating the direction, “set at 10AM”.

The case measures 51 cms in height, 49cms in length and is 17.5cms deep. It can be displayed freestanding but also has a brass hook at the back of the case to allow for hanging.

Quite obviously made for public display due to its size and it presence, it is likely to have hung in a Hall or a library. It does not seem to feature in Negretti & Zambra’s catalogues but it’s outward appearance owes much to the smaller RNLI Fisherman’s barometers of the 1880’s, (although on a much larger scale) so it is perfectly possible that this was a working barometer supplied to a coastal town in the same way as Negretti’s Mercurial Storm barometers were provided so that the town could benefit from accurate weather prediction.

A fascinating and imposing instrument of which few examples exist. Circa 1880.

Negretti & Zambra were a leading name in the production of meteorological and scientific instruments and had a company history dating back to 1850 although their parents were amongst those Italian emigres that bolstered the British meteorological instrument making industry at the turn of the century.

Throughout their long and esteemed history they exhibited at British and international industrial fairs and became makers to both Queen Victoria and Edward VII. Owing to changes in the business, the firm ceased the public retailing of scientific instruments sometime around the late 1960’s and continued with a focus on the aviation industry in numerous guises until its eventual liquidation in the year 2000. They are today perhaps the most collected of the scientific instrument firms which bears testament to the quality of their work.

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