Jason Clarke Antiques

Monumental Victorian Exhibition Aneroid Barometer by Dollond of London


For sale a monumental exhibition quality carved oak aneroid wheel barometer by Dollond of London.

This breathtaking example of a Victorian aneroid barometer is crafted from golden oak carved with floral and classical motifs throughout. Measuring 144cms in height, the base is graduated to the bottom of the dial and relief carved with a French ribbon pattern. Following up the barometer, the dial plinth is widened to give architectural effect and to provide a base for a square oak dial surround with carved column either side. The surround is carved with anthemion motifs to each corner which frame the ten inch silvered dial to the centre.

The dial itself is exquisitely detailed with intricate rose engine turning to the centre and an intricately divided scale reading 26 to 31 inches of barometric pressure. Weather indications that follow the inner circumference of the scale are equally detailed with gothic style engraving infilled with both black and red for added effect. The maker’s name, “Dollond, London” is provided underneath the central decoration and it is completed with a beautifully designed blue steel pointer and brass set hand that is operated through the centre of the glass.

The columns either side of the dial surround rise up to support a large domed pediment with a relief carved Greek vase design surrounded by acanthus leaves. This pediment in turn supports the upper section which displays a fine thermometer. The thermometer has a spiral bulb and is backed by an equally impressive silvered scale measuring for both Fahrenheit and Centigrade. The top and bottom are both superbly engraved as are the scale indications which are again engraved and infilled with both red and black pigment.

The carved thermometer case sits upon an architectural base with ancathus scrolls and columns rising up either side to fluted capitals upon which rests a smaller dome pediment topped with a fleur de lys type scroll at its peak.

A simply incredible barometer which was undoubtedly produced for an exhibition or for a specific and lavish customer commission. Measuring 144 cms high, 52 cms at its widest point and 10.5cms deep, this barometer was created as a statement piece and it remains in super condition. Sadly, it bears no clues which allow us to pinpoint the original owner but the style of the Dollond engraving would place this superb instrument’s manufacture date to around 1870.

The Dollond Company was set up in Hatton Garden in 1750 by Peter Dollond with his father John joining him shortly after. John Dollond’s invention of the achromatic lens (although bitterly disputed) led to his award of the Copley Medal by The Royal Society in 1758 and following this success, Dollond moved to The Strand where the company was appointed optician to George III and the Duke of York in 1761.

Following the deaths of John in 1804, Peter Dollond took his nephew George Huggins into partnership and after a change in surname, the company became P&J Dollond until Peter’s death in 1820, the same year that they were jointly made opticians to George IV.

The company continued its association with royalty and went on to win a Great Exhibition Medal in 1851, a year before George’s death. His nephew (also George) succeeded in the ownership until his death in 1866 wherafter his son William continued to run the business. William was the final Dollond family member to run the company, finally selling out to a former employee of the company, JR Chant in 1871 who renamed the company as Dollond & Co. After this point a partnership was formed between Chant and Tyson Crawford (as Financial Controller) with the latter taking sole ownership in 1892 until his retirement in 1903. It was then sold to the Parson Brothers who turned Dollond into a Limited Company in 1907. Having suffered from the effects of the First World War and further compounded by poor management, the company was finally merged with Aitchison & Co in 1927 whereafter it became Dollond & Aitchison. It remained a familiar site on the British High Street until 2009 whereafter it became part of Boots the Opticians.

An iconic and truly scarce example of an exhibition aneroid wheel barometer in the high Victorian style from one of the highest quality and renowned makers of scientific instruments of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries.

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