Jason Clarke Antiques

Mid Victorian Drumhead Aneroid Barometer by M Aronsberg & Co Liverpool


For sale, a mid-Victorian aneroid barometer in ebonised drum head case retailed by M. Aronsberg & Co of 39 Castle Street, Liverpool.

This robust looking example has a paper dial measuring 27 to 31 inches of barometric pressure with numerous weather indications, the base has a small thermometer with both Fahrenheit and Reamur scales with a blue steel pointer with crescent shaped tail and a brass setting hand. The barometer is enclosed with a brass bezel and a reassuringly thick bevelled glass front.

The superb case is nicely constructed with a drumhead section attached to a flared base all of which has been ebonised and polished throughout.

Maurice Aronsberg was a Russian Jew, born in 1835 in Courland, an area which was then part of The Russian Empire but now a region in Western Latvia. By the age of twenty, he had moved with his family to Glasgow as newspaper advertisements of 1855 list a glaziers company under the name of W&M Aronsberg (the brothers William & Maurice). It is likely that the family’s stay in Scotland was fairly shortlived as he is listed as having married a Prussian, Eva Prag in 1858 in Liverpool whilst his brother (who also married a Prag) is listed as residing in Manchester. Both brothers seem to have set themselves up as opticians, perhaps not such a stretch given their earlier involvement with the glass industry.

The earliest recorded advertisement for M. Aronsberg & Co are in welsh paper of the late 1860’s and examples of his adverts continue to appear until the late 1880’s outlining a plethora of goods available at his 39 Castle Street address, including spectacles, field glasses, telescopes, microscopes, magic lanterns, model steam engines, barometers and numerous pieces of philosophical apparatus. He states that they both manufacture and import goods and his overseas connections may have allowed him access to the French market. His later pieces state that the company had branches in both Liverpool and Paris.

The company certainly continued to trade into the early twentieth century, it is known from census records that Maurice had his family working alongside him so it is likely that it operated past the founder’s death in 1911. The lack of records thereafter may suggest that the company failed due to the onset of the First World War.

This great looking barometer is likely to be of French extraction given the style of the case and design of the card dial. Almost all British scientific instrument makers of the period imported aneroid barometers from the continent where they had been invented (Bourdon & Vidie) and French companies such as Naudet and Duboise & Casse dominated the market for the rest of the century.

Circa 1870

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