A FINE GEORGE III MAHOGANY BAYONET-TUBE MERCURY STICK BAROMETER WITH LARGE SCALE THERMOMETER
Nairne and Blunt, London, circa 1780
The arched-top caddy moulded case inset with glazed hygrometer inscribed DAMP DRY and with beard setting square beneath over concave-topped silvered Vernier scale calibrated in barometric inches to the right hand margin opposing weather observations to the left, the upper margin signed Nairne and, Blunt, London and the lower edge decorated with an engraved leafy scroll flanked cavetto-shaped angles, the trunk applied with full-height silvered-scale mercury thermometer calibrated in Fahrenheit with scale divided in degrees annotated 0-120 opposing markers inscribed Freezing, Temperate, Sum'r Heat, Blood Heat and Fever Heat over spiral pierced brass bulb shield and circular base applied with half sphere cistern cover incorporating sleeved level adjustment screw to underside.
108cm (42.5ins) high.
The collaboration between Edward Nairne and his former apprentice Thomas Blunt is recorded in Banfield, Edwin BAROMETER MAKERS AND RETAILERS 1660-1900 as established in 1774 and lasting until 1793. Edward Nairne was born in 1726 and apprenticed to the celebrated instrument maker, Matthew Loft, in 1741. Latterly he worked from 20 Cornhill and published numerous booklets on navigational, pneumatic and astronomical instruments. In 1776 Nairne devised a marine barometer with a restriction to the bore of the mercury tube which served to dampen the oscillation of the mercury, he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1776 and died 1806. Thomas Blunt was apprenticed to Edward Nairne in 1760 with whom he formed a loose partnership in 1774, perhaps for mutual convenience as his premises were next door to Nairne's at 22 Cornhill. Blunt designed some of the components for the 'New Barometer' devised by the Portuguese Scientist J.H. Magellan for measuring altitude, and latterly became instrument maker to George III. In 1793 he took his son, also named Thomas, into partnership and subsequently relocated to 136 Minories in 1814, he died in 1822.
A small group of bayonet-tube stick barometers incorporating a large scale thermometer by Nairne and Blunt are known. These include an example in The Whipple Museum, Cambridge (illustrated in Goodison, Nicholas English Barometers 1680-1860 on page 186, Plate 124); another previously in the collection of Edwin Banfield is illustrated in his publication BAROMETERS, Stick or Cistern tube on page 75 and a third was also sold in these rooms on 15 th March 2018 (lot 38) for £3,200 hammer . These three differ from the current lot in that they do not have a hygrometer fitted however an example which also includes a hygrometer, hence is very closely comparable with the current lot, was sold at Lyon and Turnbull, Edinburgh, 19 th May 2021 in their sale titled Five Centuries: Furniture, Paintings & Works of Art (lot 123) for £4,000.
The tube is filled with mercury with no apparent airlocks. The register plates/scales have overall patchy discolouration and tarnishing to the silvering otherwise are in fine original condition with the delicate engraving showing very little wear suggesting that the plates have not been re-silvered many times in the past. The wheat beard to the hygrometer is currently detached otherwise is in good condition with the adjustment mechanism intact and working. The thermometer is in good condition; the brass fittings are however somewhat discoloured/tarnished. The case is in good original condition showing old but relatively flat surface with some wear mainly to the dome of the cistern cover. There is no key present to the hygrometer or level adjustment squares.
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