A very unusual oversized pocket style barometer in English silver fronted desk stand by Henry Matthews, Birmingham, c1903

Very Large Silver Fronted Desk Barometer by Henry Matthews c1903


Desk barometer having 3¾” white transfer printed enamelled dial, the upper portion with semi circular barometric scale calibrated in inches of mercury with a range from 28-31”, divided to 1/50ths” and bearing standard meteorological terms, the lower portion with curved thermometer, the register with a range from 10-120 degrees Fahrenheit. Blued steel pointer under a heavy bevelled glass held within a rotating bezel with arrow form index and gilt reflector ring. The conventional 1¼” capsule driven movement tensioned on a C spring. Bright plated low barrel form case with extension post and suspension ring, calibration port to verso.

The black leather over wood desk stand with applied English silver repoussé front of intricate pierced floral and scroll design, vacant cartouche, hallmarks for Henry Matthews, Birmingham and 1903. The verso with fold out easel stand, leather carry handle, snap closure on a button release. 

Condition: The subject of a full mechanical overhaul and re-calibration under laboratory conditions, see performance chart. The barometer dial and glass clean and chip free, the plated case retaining almost all its original plating, minor haze scratching to centre verso. The movement working extremely well showing less than 1/50th” error across the scale. Progression and sensitivity excellent.

The applied silver front crisp, the leather case the subject of restoration, losses to leather over hinges. The green interior fabrics bright, the velvet with slight age related fading, the lid silk marked. 

The timber frame, the subject of extensive restoration, sound, as are the hinges, the catch working precisely. Some areas of leather lacking, especially to easel stand. The silver piercework essentially damage free, crisp and with good colour. The green velvet and silk fabric interior sound and original, though stained marked and worn in places.

Comments: This is a very unusual piece, most silver-fronted desk pieces being pocket barometer size (some images showing a comparison), and carrying either a plain silver or solid repoussé silver front. The pierced silver work well executed with fine detail. The barometer extremely accurate, and almost certainly by Negretti & Zambra.

Certainly scarce, we have seen one other desk piece of similar size holding a ‘pocket-style’ desk watch.

Henry Matthews was a Birmingham-based silversmith with premises on Vittoria Street, famous for being part of the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham. Matthews, who worked between 1894 and 1930, was noted for his small silver items that required great attention to detail. 

In all, this is a very attractive desk barometer with aesthetic value, very much a good companion to a favourite desk or side table.

Dimensions: Barometer – 4” diameter x 1” deep; Case – 6” wide x 7” high x 1¾” deep

Stock No: BA1869

Price: £850






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