Marine barometer having 5” hand-decorated, glazed porcelain dial, the upper portion having barometric scale from 28-31 inches of mercury, annotated “Falls for Warm, Wet or More Wind”, “Changeable,” “Rises for Cold, Dry or Less Wind,” “Marine Aneroid Barometer made by Dollond, London,” the centre with serial “No 6244,” the lower portion marked “The Shipwrecked Fishermen & Mariners’ Royal Benevolent Society,” maker’s address “26 Suffolk Street, Pall Mall, East, S.W.” and the English flag containing the letters “S-F-M-S.” Blued-steel pointer set beneath heavy bevelled glass with gilded telltale to centre. Heavy brass bezel, first quality movement of conventional pattern driven by a 3” capsule, chassis set on a wooden block, a characteristic of all these early instruments. The whole contained within a high polished drum pattern case probably of nickel construction, compensation port to rear set at 3 o’clock. The case bottom with single projecting fixing lug. Set on a carved oak stand with twin stylised dolphins. Silvered brass presentation plaque inscribed: “Presented to Captain W. Elliott, Hon: Agent at Port Erin, in recognition of services rendered.”
This item is unique and a good example of this much sought after instrument – it is a commentary on the life of one of our finest seafaring men. The instrument is of the highest quality, in good working order with excellent sensitivity and smooth transition.
The stand is a beautifully executed carving in contrasting cuts of oak depicting two stylised dolphins set on a plinth with a rope work border. The instrument secured to the stand by a lug to the rear. When removed from the stand, a mirror-plated finish was revealed, this finish largely been protected from the atmosphere since it had rested upon the velvet facing to the cradle. Conservation has revealed traces of this original finish evident to the visible case and bezel. The dial, as with all such others, has extensive superficial crazing to the glaze, but with no “damage” – it remains crisp with excellent colour and resolution. Some repairs to bezel which had developed some cracking, a common place occurrence on instruments of this age, the work professionally carried out by us with a view to preservation, stabilisation and with a minimum of impact to the exterior finish. The instrument now presented reflects much of its original visual quality; it remains original in all respects.
It is not known precisely how many of these presentation pieces were produced. Although the Shipwrecked Fishermen & Mariners’ Society made a number of awards of marine aneroid barometers by Dollond, only a very few were of this precise form and mounted in these intricately carved stands. Our research has uncovered only a handful so conjecture might suggest just a few dozen.
A lovely, rare and historic, visually attractive and functional item. A real collector’s piece.
Captain William Elliott (b. 1856, d. 1933), Master Mariner, was Harbour Master at Port St Mary and Port Erin, Isle of Man, from 1910 onwards, is recorded as master of the Goldseeker in 1891. The ship, registered in 1873, was one of six topsail schooners locally built in Douglas by William Qualtrough and famous for the excellence of their material and workmanship and seagoing quality, combined with a fair turn of speed. These schooners were mainly engaged in the home trade, but on occasions they voyaged to the Baltic, to Scandinavia, the Mediterranean, and the Azores or Western Islands. The schooners were commanded by Manx sailors and manned by Manx crews.
Captain Elliott was, for many years, the local agent for the Shipwrecked Fishermen & Mariners’ Society.
Dollond traced its beginnings back to 1750, when Peter Dollond, son of a Huguenot silk weaver, started in business as an optician. Over the years, the company was appointed opticians to George III, the Duke of York, William IV and Queen Victoria, becoming Dollond & Co in 1870, and then merging with Aitchison & Co in 1927 (see Banfield, Edwin, Barometer Makers & Retailers, 1660-1900).
Dimensions: 16” wide x 11½” high x 4¼” deep
Stock No: BA0598