Jason Clarke Antiques

Victorian Golden Oak Stick Barometer by Alfred Apps 433 The Strand London


For sale, a very fine Victorian golden oak stick barometer by Alfred Apps of 433, The Strand London.

The architectural case is headed with a shield and laurel carved motif with a domed, bevelled glass fronted scale with exquisite engraving showing weather indications and barometric readings for 26 to 31 inches of pressure. It is signed to “Apps, 433 Strand, London” to the top. A Vernier is further provided either side of the glass tube to mark today and yesterday’s reading.

The verniers are operated below the plinth of the scale by means of two turned wooden knobs which are designed to work with the floral and roundel carvings behind. Below that a bone scale Fahrenheit and Centigrade scale thermometer with bevelled glass frontage is surrounded by roundels which follow through to either side of the instrument.

The cistern cover continues with similar shield and laurel carving and floral motifs to the front and is finished with a gadrooned section to the base.

A very robust and superbly designed barometer which oozes quality throughout, from the bevelled glass fronts, the superb scale engraving and the sumptuous carving. A very high quality Victorian stick barometer.

Alfred Apps remains surprisingly unrecognised within the roster of famed Nineteenth Century scientific instrument makers but during his lifetime, he was highly regarded and his instruments (though surprisingly rare now) are always superbly manufactured.

Born in 1839 into a milling family in Battle East Sussex and with his two older brothers destined to take over the family concern, Apps was presumably well educated and sought an apprecticeship in London although no records for this are available. Using this assumption, he would certainly have been in a position to trade in his own right by 1860, and it is certain that he was doing that by 1866 at premises at 433 The Strand, an address which he maintained throughout his life.

Trading through a period where electricity was at the forefront of scientific endeavour, Apps became a well renowned electrician and in 1869 was commissioned to build a huge induction coil (dubbed The Monster Coil or The Great Lightning Inductorium) for the Royal London Polytechnic. “The machine that Apps built was nine feet, ten inches in length and two feet in diameter. The primary coil weighed 145 pounds and was made of 3770 yards of copper wire would six thousand times  around the central iron core, The secondary coil consisted of 150 miles of wire”. The public demonstrations of the instrument were impressive enough to receive the attention of The Times newspaper in the same year and were attended by British Royalty.

Apps maintained a specialism for electrical devices throughout his career, in 1877 he built an even larger coil for William Spottiswoode which required 280 miles of wire and could produce a 42 inch spark, he also patented his own induction coil during the 1880’s which was also sold by Newton & Co. His trade cards however, also reveal that he manufactured and sold a very wide range of goods, advertising himself as an optical, mathematical and philosophical instrument maker.

Apps seems not to have retired, he continued to work beyond the turn of the century and is mentioned as an award winner in the 1908 Franco-British Exhibition. Tragedy struck him in later life with the death of his daughter whilst working working in a hospital in Palestine and he dies just two years later in 1913 leaving an estate worth £21,943. A huge sum for that period in time.

The business was eventually sold to his close partners, Newton & Co

Circa 1870.

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