Antique chart table barometer having 4½” silvered and die struck dial, the upper part marked “Stormy, Rain, Change, Fair, Very Dry” and “Compensated,” barometric scale from 24–31 inches of mercury and finely divided to 1/50ths”, having stations on the inch. The lower part with retailer’s name “H.J. Redding & Co, 3 Argyll Place, (Regent Street), London W.” Outer adjustable geared altitude scale 0-7,000 feet driven from setting knob (lower right), divided to 20ft increments with stations on the 1,000ft points.
All set beneath bevelled glass, substantial brass bezel. First quality conventional movement driven from a single 2½” capsule tensioned on a C spring, primary lever with bimetallic compensation strip, finely ground bridge, violin-style cock, blued-steel hairspring, stop to capsule top pillar. Movement marked “30/7/06” and “WB.” The massive drum form case with twin mounting lugs, the case rear with compensation adjustment port set at 4 o’clock.
Presented in its original brass bound light oak lacquered case, the lid and lower case with ridge and associated channel as a precaution against water ingress. The fixing blocks with brass plate upper faces, calibration adjustment key at top left. Vacant escutcheon, lock and key.
Condition: The oak case with sun bleaching to lid and generally to exterior surfaces, – much original lacquered finish remaining, though this has crazed especially to the lid. The brass binding with multiple points of oxidation and fine abrasions. The inner case with good colour, the bottom with a shrinkage cracks and evidence it has been screwed down to a chart table. The lock working well, the almost full width hinge free. The box structure sound.
The instrument has been subject of a full overhaul and testing under laboratory conditions. Acceptably accurate over the normal barometric range and sensitive with good progression. The dial with some discolouration and multiple points of oxidation to silvered finish, altitude and reflector ring with losses. Operation of altitude ring full and free. The case retaining a very high proportion of its original lacquered finish.
Comments: Although unsigned, the movement is undoubtedly the work of Short & Mason, and this instrument appears in their Catalogue of 1911, see image. The design of this instrument was tailored specifically for maritime use and in particular for racing yachts. There were notable advantages, the principle being that mercurial barometers were much less responsive and of course required significantly more space, quite apart from their fragility. It also goes without saying that conditions on the large racing and later J boats implied high levels of heel and pitch, none of which particularly suited the performance of a mercury barometer. So these instruments, easily accurate enough, were the obvious solution.
This particular one exhibits all the hallmarks of having been in just such an environment, the screw hole in the bottom of the case often seen in instruments taken on board ship. The type of oxidation generally to dial and other parts also absolutely consistent with sea time. Indeed, it is listed in Short & Mason’s Catalogue as a “chronometer companion.” A most useful instrument of ready and accurate reference for the mariner and navigator.
“WB” has been marked on the movements of a number of fine instruments, including some signed by Short & Mason – it is thought that these are the initials of one of Short & Mason’s senior finishers of that time.
A very fine quality instrument. Very much a collector’s piece in very original and good working condition and order.
H.J. Redding & Co was an optician, dealing in photographic and scientific instruments, as well as novelty toys.
Dimensions: 6½” wide x 6½” deep x 3½” high
Stock No: BA1515