Jason Clarke Antiques

Mid Victorian Rosewood Stick Barometer by Negretti & Zambra London


For sale, a mid Victorian rosewood stick barometer by Negretti & Zambra comprised of a single length of beautifully figured rosewood with domed top and inlaid scale plate. The scale is engraved for 27 to 31 inches of barometric pressure with hand operated slide Vernier for more precise readings against the central tube. The space above the barometer scale is engraved with the maker’s name: Negretti & Zambra. 1 Hatton Garden, 59 Cornhill, 122 Regent St and 153 Fleet Street. London.

The left-hand side of the scale is reserved for a Fahrenheit and Reamur thermometer scale with a brass grill protecting the thermometer bulb. The top of the barometer tube is also held secure against the barometer with a brass dome topped cap.

Below the dial, the glass tube stands proud of body; however (very unusually for this style), it is fitted with a domed rosewood cover slip which is attached over the top for its protection. It provides a nice symmetry to the barometer making additional good use of the expensive material and provides a smooth transition to the shape of the eighteenth-century globe type cistern cover.

This is perhaps the best example of this style of barometer that I have encountered given the additional design elements and the use of choice rosewood (seen better in the close-up images provided). It is also possible to be quite succinct on the dating of its manufacture due to the addresses of 1 Hatton Garden (1859 – 1867) and 153 Fleet Street (1865 – 1873). The cross over of ownership of these properties allows us to date this barometer within a two-year period from 1865 to 1867.

The partnership of Negretti & Zambra was formed from two Italian émigré families although Henry Negretti was certainly the more experienced of the pair at the formation of the business. His career began as an apprentice under Angelo Tagliabue who also taught Louis Casella. Other Tagliabues also went on to form a partnership with Joseph Zambra so it is clear that this family were instrumental in the formation of both Casella and Negretti & Zambra, the two great instrument makers of the Victorian age.

Negretti & Zambra were a leading name in the production of meteorological and scientific instruments. Their early affiliation with Admiral Fitzroy and his developments in meteorology and with the RNLI made them a household name within the British Isles. Throughout their long and esteemed history they exhibited at all British and worldwide industrial fairs and became makers to both Queen Victoria and Edward VII and their contributions to scientific development in the second half of the Nineteenth Century cannot be underestimated.

They continued to service the general public and the scientific community alike until the late 1960’s whereafter they focused solely on the aviation industry in numerous guises until its eventual liquidation in the year 2000. A sad end to a hundred and fifty years of quality manufacturing.

Circa 1865

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