Meteorological aneroid barometer having silvered and finely engraved 4¼” brass dial scaled from 26-31 inches of mercury, engine divided and figured to 1/100ths of an inch, the upper part marked “Compensated,” the lower portion with maker’s legend “Negretti & Zambra, London,” serial no.”12462,” fine blued-steel pointer, gilt brass index set to bevelled glass with adjustment wheel to centre. Well-executed first quality 2½” capsule-driven lacquered brass movement raised on a japanned steel chassis, bronze hairspring, the movement incorporating two fine developments – the addition of a coil spring imparting opposing tension to the primary lever, and a balance weight to the fusee connecting lever. Bimetallic compensation to primary lever. 2″ deep drum-form lacquered brass case with turned pillar and suspension loop, the verso with calibration port set at 4 o’clock and inscription. The whole contained within its original hinged leatherette over wood, plum silk and velvet lined presentation case, the lid with 2″ celluloid pocket forecaster contained in original box with instructions, retaining strap. Snap closure with button release.
The inscription reading: “Mr. & Mrs. Harrington, from Cecil W. Lilley, in Grateful Recognition of Eight Years at 5 St James’s Street, January 1929 to January 1937.” Case contains original Negretti & Zambra compliments slip addressed at 122 Regent Street with handwritten note to top drawing recipients’ attention to inscription on rear of instrument. Additional handwritten card signed by the giver.
The aneroid barometer in good condition with excellent sensitivity and transition, retaining much of its original lacquered finish, some losses to case circumference and very minor abrasions to rear. Dial with very slight aging and foxing. The case in sound condition, material linings intact with good colour though showing signs of age. The forecaster cardboard case with some distress to corners and some discoloration overall. The forecaster in crisp original condition, the instruction leaflet similarly. The instrument checked, serviced and calibrated, in good working original condition.
The crisp condition, completeness and quality of this item make it really quite scarce. Featured as item reference M 2064 on p37 of the Negretti & Zambra ‘Standard Meteorological Instruments’ catalogue of 1930, drum-form instruments of this type are not uncommon; however this particular barometer set is notable and therefore very collectable. As with all great companies over time came innovation and changes in both product quality and execution – this instrument was manufactured during Negretti & Zambra’s best period in production. Benefitting greatly from their 19th century successes and commercial gain achieved during WWI, investment in new machinery and improvements to production techniques contributed substantially to the success of the interwar period.
Cecil W. Lilley was a barrister and co-author with Sir William Clarke Hall of The Law Relating to Children (1905). It would seem likely that this barometer was given as a parting gift from a long-term lodger to his landlords. Of Mr & Mrs Harrington nothing is known, save that Lord Harrington (William Stanhope, first earl of Harrington), owned a house in St James’s Street in the 18th century, and that 5 St James’s Street is today the home of the Boulestin restaurant.
Negretti & Zambra, founded in 1850 as makers of scientific instruments, were the most prolific and leading makers of all types of barometers during the second half of the 19th century. The partnership exhibited at the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in 1851 and won a Prize Medal. Negretti & Zambra held the appointment of instrument-makers to Her Majesty Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and Edward VII, the Royal Observatory and the British Admiralty (see Banfield, Edwin, Barometer Makers and Retailers, 1660-1900).
Dimensions: 6” x 6½” x 3”
Stock No: BA0295