Generally when these instruments are given as presentations it’s to a retired partner from a law firm or the winner of some golfing extravaganza – these additions add nothing to the value or interest in the piece, indeed in most instances the plates are removed, the holes filled and a part of ignominious history gently forgotten.

The Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners’ Royal Benevolent Society gave many awards and prizes for heroic endeavours over the years, generally as medals, but they also awarded circular barometers sourced from Dollond with whom they had a solid long term business relationship.

Over the years I have seen a fair number of the barometers, some mounted in carved wooden stands featuring dolphins. This is the first barograph to this award that I have seen or can find mention of.

Dollond took the basic Short & Mason barograph movement with drum, worked on it, and then produced their own very high quality mahogany case with a slightly larger and rather more attractive base.

So to the loss of SS Pericles: this ship was built under special survey by Harland & Wolff, Belfast for  G. Thompson & Co. Ltd’s Aberdeen White Star Line, and launched on 21st Dec 1907 under the command of, and recipient of this prize, Commodore of the Line Captain Alexander Simpson.

Whilst steaming passed white topped rocks off the west coast of Australia making 14 knots, she hit an uncharted rock south east of Cape Leeuwin. The rock tore a long gash in the hull and, despite being double bottomed with watertight bulkheads, she sank, probably within an hour, down by the bow.

This award was given to Captain Simpson for the way in which he ensured no lives were lost. The incident resulted in much of the cargo of tallow and butter being washed ashore, and Pericles was also carrying a large quantity of lead alloyed with precious metals bound for London where it could be refined. Much of this cargo was later salvaged.

There is a more detailed account of the SS Pericles and of the circumstances of her loss HERE, from the site of the Western Australia Museum.

Dollond Shipwrecked Mariners Society Barograph c1910
Dollond Shipwrecked Mariners Society Barograph c1910
SS Pericles of the White Star Line
Dollond Barograph No 7519 Performance Chart