Jason Clarke Antiques

Mid Victorian Silver Cased Paynes Patent Pedometer Retailed by Negretti & Zambra


For sale, a mid-Victorian silver cased William Payne’s Patent Pedometer retailed by Negretti & Zambra.

This fascinating early pedometer is comprised of a one an a half inch ceramic dial with Roman numerals and single blue steel pointer. It is marked to the retailer Negretti & Zambra, 1 Hatton Garden, to the upper section and Payne’s Patent with serial No: 3969 below.

The delicate silver case has a fine bezel with watch glass to the front and superb rose engine turned detail to the reverse. It has a hallmarked suspension loop to the top to allow it to be attached to a watch chain. The bezel is opened by a nail clasp to the top right of the hanging loop and the movement accessed by depressing a catch at the base.

The inside of the case is silver marked for London with the date letter “h” for 1863, it also bears the same serial as is provided on the dial and the case maker’s initials “AT”.

The maker of this fine instrument were the clockmakers William Payne & Co who began trading in 1811 at 62 South Moulton Street in London. By 1825, Payne had moved to 163 Bond Street from where on the 15th of February 1831 he lodged his patent, “Pedometer for the waistcoat pocket” (No: 6078). The invention was evidently well accepted as it continued to be produced until at least the 1870’s

Both Negretti & Zambra and William Payne & Co took part in The Great Exhibtion of 1851 where Payne exhibited these instruments and it would be interesting to consider that this may have been where the two companies formed their trading relationship.  Both companies were patronised by The British Royal Family after this point in time.

Negretti & Zambra were a leading name in the production and retailing 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.

Perhaps less rich in function than a Fitbit but far more pleasing to the eye, this instrument (owing to the hallmarks) can be confidently dated to 1863, a date which fits entirely with Negretti & Zambra’s trading dates at 1 Hatton Garden, which lasted from 1859 – 1867.

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