Scientific Barometer by Short & Mason c1875 – SOLD
Short & Mason barometer of heavy lacquered brass construction. 4½” finely engraved and silvered dial marked “Stormy,” “Rain,” “Change,” “Fair” and “Very Dry,” barometric scale from 24–31 inches of mercury, geared rotating altitude ring from 0-7,000ft, set beneath bevelled glass, substantial brass bezel with side-mounted altitude scale adjustment wheel. First quality, highly embellished movement with many components in gilt brass, finely ground principal lever, violin-style cock bearing Short & Mason logo, blued-steel hairspring, stop to capsule top pillar. The massive case with twin mounting lugs, the case rear with compensation adjustment port set at 4 o’clock. The whole mounted within its original, good quality, brass-bound oak case and maintained by twin turned brass fixing pins with finely dished heads, knurled circumferentially. Brass and steel adjustment tool in similar style. Lock and contemporary key.
This instrument raises many more questions than it gives answers. The fact the dial is unsigned might suggest manufacture, other than that of the Short & Mason movement, by a third party – this might explain why such an obviously embellished movement ended up removed from view rather than a feature of a top quality instrument. It is more likely, though, that the entire instrument was manufactured by Short & Mason as it was commonplace for other makers or retailers to apply their names to dials. The instrument is presented in a style very consistent with maritime fashion: the oak case has raised sections with corresponding channels to the closure often associated with marine chronometers, and the presence of an altitude scale does not entirely preclude this. Similar instruments without altitude scales are known and were certainly carried on ships and luxury yachts – these are exceptionally rare. The absence of a hanging loop or ring suggests strongly that the instrument was designed to remain in its case at all times and, owing to its weight, a ballooning application can be broadly discounted.
The aneroid barometer stripped, serviced and cleaned, the dial with some oxidation remaining, original silvering, the brass case with dispersed points of oxidation, retains much original lacquer and having good colour. The oak box retaining much of its original lacquered finish, brass fittings with moderate to heavy patination, some pitting, the bottom re-covered. This Short & Mason barometer is mechanically excellent, with good sensitivity and transition.
Dimensions: 6¾” wide x 6¾” deep x 3½” high
Stock No: BA0309
Short & Mason, a partnership between Thomas Short and James Mason, is recorded in Banfield, Edwin, Barometer Makers and Retailers, 1660-1900 as working in London from 1873 onwards, first at 62 Hatton Gardens (1873-1875) and then at 40 Hatton Gardens (1876+). The highly-renowned business produced precision measuring instruments including barometers, anemometers, and compasses, becoming leaders in the field of barograph design.
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