A Mid-Victorian aneroid barometer by JS Marratt of 63 King William Street, London Bridge.
This extraordinarily good quality instrument is comprised of a brass graduated case with suspension loop. It has a five inch ceramic dial with scale reading from 25 to 31 inches of barometric pressure and the maker’s name, “JS Marrat, 63 King William St, London Bridge” marked above and below the centre dial used for adjusting the indicator hand. The pointer is of blue steel with a half-moon design to the base.
The barometer comes complete with its original, superbly carved oak stand with floral scroll designs rising to meet the barometer and with a chamfered edge to the base.
This super instrument was created by John Symonds Marratt, born in Surrey in 1809, the son of Edward Marratt, a wireworker, his early career belied his later skills being initially apprenticed to a blacksmith in 1822. However, by 1828 Marratt had set up business in London as an optician, working from Meredith St in Clerkenwell and then 1 New Street in Dockheath. By 1833 his premises were listed at 54 Shoe Lane and from 1839 to 1844 at 15 Great Winchester Street.
It was not until 1845 that Marratt moved into the more famous premises at 63 King William Street and by 1851 Marratt had built enough of a reputation to have exhibited his telescopes and theodolites at The Great Exhibition of 1851.
By 1859, the fifty year old Marratt made the decision to enter into partnership with a 27 year old Thomas Watling Short (later partner in the famous firm of Short & Mason) and the business was renamed as Marratt & Short until 1867 when the partnership was listed as dissolved in the London Gazette. Interestingly, Short was involved with various quality scientific instrument makers in London during this period. He formed a partnership with James Pitkin in 1868 which was dissolved in 1870 and in the early 1870’s, the famous business of Short & Mason was finally created. His brief partnerships with both Marratt and Pitkin would have given him a superior grounding in the art of scientific instrument manufacture.
From 1867, Marratt formed another partnership with George Everest Ellis which continued successfully until 1880 whereupon it was dissolved due to the retirement of Marratt. The founder of the company eventually died in 1888 but the company continued to trade under the name of Marratt & Ellis and was being operated by John Clement Ellis by 1893, presumably the son of the George.
Sadly, the original premises was destroyed in the Blitz but the company continued to trade and moved around various addresses in London. It was finally sold in 2007 to a partnership of Johann Blandford and Alnoor Kassam whereafter the name was changed to Kassford Opticians and still operates today from premises on London Road in Forest Hill.
Based upon the history of the company and the style of the barometer, this example of Marratt’s work can be easily linked to the earliest period when Marratt traded alone at King William Street between 1845 and 1859. It almost certainly dates to the later end of these dates as the inventor of the aneroid barometer, the Frenchman Lucien Vidie held the patent rights for his invention until 1859 whereafter it was copied heavily by his competitors.