Dent barometer with silvered brass 4½” dial annotated “Stormy,” “Much Rain,” “Change,” “Fair,” “Set Fair,” “Very Dry,” calibrated from 27½ – 31½ inches of mercury, further annotated “Aneroid Barometer” in script. The lower portion bearing the legend “E.J. Dent, Paris,” “Fahrenheit’s Thermometer,” and serial no. “4522,” further marked with the details of the Agent: “Mrs Janet Taylor, 104 Minories, London,” and having original curved thermometer calibrated from 0-120 degrees Fahrenheit. Blued-steel pointer. Flat glass with fine, knurled, gilt brass telltale adjustment wheel to centre. Lacquered spun copper case and brass bezel, the bezel with trademark Dent herringbone pattern. Set pillar with suspension ring to top. The reverse with screw calibration port set at 7 o’clock.
This is a very early instrument and represents one of the first aneroid type barometers sold. The movement is of the early coil spring “Vidi” type (Vidi is deemed the father of aneroid or non-mercurial barometers). It is known that Dent cooperated closely with Vidi in the mid 19th century, but it cannot be stated with any degree of certainty as to whether Vidi manufactured the movement or Dent did so under license. The capsule is of the very early copper type, the top pivot plate of finely-cast iron bearing upon a coil spring. The chassis is retained within the case with square brass nuts.
The Dent barometer remains in, essentially, very original condition: some slight dents to case, the movement having been serviced. The copper case having contemporary lacquered finish with some losses.
This barometer is significant not only as one of the first Vidi barometers made for E.J. Dent, but also as an instrument sold on by the celebrated mathematician, astronomer and sole agent for Dent’s chronometers, Mrs Janet Taylor.
E.J. Dent (1790-1853) was a famous English watchmaker and the designer of “Big Ben,” noted for his highly accurate clocks and marine chronometers, and is recorded in Edwin Banfield’s Barometer Makers and Retailers, 1660-1900 as working from 1844-1851. Dent was the first to sell the Vidi aneroid barometer in England in 1847, and in 1849, he published “A Treatise on the Aneroid, a Newly Invented Portable Barometer.” He exhibited at the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in 1851 when the Vidi barometer was awarded a Council Medal.
Mrs Janet Taylor (1804-1870): “It is hard to imagine a more male-dominated field in the nineteenth century than that of sea navigation; this was the high-point of the British Empire and sea navigation drove it. Yet in the midst of this domain Janet Taylor emerged as a young woman confident of her ability to match the best male minds in the business. Janet was one of the most remarkable scientists of the nineteenth century, and yet until now her story has never been told. A gifted mathematician, astronomer, author and instrument maker, Janet also possessed extraordinary skills as a teacher of navigation and business woman.
The fifth of eight children, Janet was born in Wolsingham, County Durham, in 1804. By the age of nine her outstanding intellectual abilities were already apparent and she was awarded a special scholarship by Queen Charlotte. At fourteen she left school, but continued to educate herself in languages, science and mathematics. In so doing, she overcame her humble beginnings and became one of the most prominent figures in the nautical world. The only women in over 200 years to patent a nautical instrument, her incredible journey led her to extraordinary heights and earned her the respect and admiration of those at the highest level in their field. She excelled and maintained a position of leadership in her chosen profession for over thirty years, as well as raising a family of eight children and three step-children. An incredible woman far ahead of her time.”
(see Mistress of Science: The Story of the Remarkable Janet Taylor, Pioneer of Sea Navigation, by John S. Croucher and Rosalind F. Croucher, published in 2017 by Amberley Publishing)
Dimensions: 4¾” diameter x 1¾” high
Stock No: BA0661