A rare very early Vidi aneroid desk barometer No 352 in amboyna sloping front case c1845

Rare Early Vidi Aneroid Desk Barometer No 352 c1845


Antique aneroid barometer having 4½” silvered and engraved dial, the upper part with semi-circular barometric scale calibrated in inches of mercury with a range from 28–31” divided to 1/20th and bordered by standard meteorological terms, to the centre the annotation “Aneroid Barometer,” the lower part with semi-circular thermometer, the register marked “Fahrenheit’s Thermometer” with a range from 0–130 degrees. Blued steel pointer, gilt brass tell tale. Flat glass with gilt reflector ring and Dent style herringbone pattern bezel. All contained within a spun brass case, the verso with calibration port set at 7 o’clock. Case extension and suspension ring.

The capsule of the very early copper type, the top pivot plate of finely-cast iron bearing upon a coil spring. The chassis retained within the case with square brass nuts.

All contained within its original plum velvet lined boxwood strung amboyna veneered sloping desk case with circular viewing port, early hinges struck “PM&Co Patent” set with steel screws, original lock and key, brass escutcheon.

Condition: The subject of some conservation, a full mechanical overhaul and re-calibration under laboratory conditions. The instrument remaining in original condition throughout, retaining almost all the lacquered and gilt finish to the case, some minor abrasions and points of oxidation, the verso with some scratches. The dial essentially crisp, some minor shadowing. The movement working well with more than acceptable accuracy and sensitivity, see performance chart. The timber case, the subject of some conservation, presents very well, the highly figured veneer contrasting well with the boxwood stringing. The original lock working well with what is almost certainly its original key. The interior, constructed in soft wood, has contracted over time leading to some misalignment of the instrument to the viewing port though this is only obvious if viewed from the perpendicular. The velvet lining retaining much of its original vibrancy, remaining largely intact save for some shrinkage round the inside of the viewing port. Replacement include two small pieces of boxwood stringing, and velvet to the inside of the viewing port. In all other respects, this case remains in original aged condition.

Comments: I have often said that these early instruments are perhaps some of the most interesting of all the aneroid barometers. It is unclear precisely why, but performance and accuracy are always first class, and this is no exception. This example is noteworthy as it is not signed “Dent.” That would suggest one of two things: that either this instrument was manufactured in parallel with the Dent instruments and destined for other retailers, or more likely it pre-dates the point at which Dent gained the agency for these instruments in the UK. The serial no. “352” is certainly very interesting and the lowest we have yet handled. It should be noted that although the Dent instruments are signed “Paris,” they were made for Dent in France and imported into the UK. The likely French makers were either a concern essentially run by Lucien Vidi, the inventor who perfected the aneroid system, or possibly made to order by Redier or even Naudet.

Now a very hard to find item in this condition, aesthetically beautiful and historically very important, this antique desk barometer is most certainly a piece for the collector or connoisseur alike.

Dimensions: 6¾” wide x 5” high x 6⅛” deep

Stock No: BA1687

Price: Not currently for sale – Vavasseur Archive


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