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    Sale 7439

    Important English Furniture

    22 November 2007, London, King Street

  • Lot 630

    AN UNUSUAL GEORGE III DUTCH-STYLE MAHOGANY AND MARQUETRY 'CONTRA' BAROMETER

    BY DOLLOND OF LONDON, LATE 18TH CENTURY

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    AN UNUSUAL GEORGE III DUTCH-STYLE MAHOGANY AND MARQUETRY 'CONTRA' BAROMETER
    BY DOLLOND OF LONDON, LATE 18TH CENTURY
    The open triangular pediment centred by an acorn finial, the rectangular glazed case flanked by quadrant corinthian stop-fluted columns, enclosing engraved silvered brass plate signed 'Dollond London' with two barometric scales and a temperature scale, on a moulded plinth base
    44 in. (112 cm.) high; 12 in. (30.5 cm.) wide; 4 in. (10 cm.) deep


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    This barometer was almost certainly made by Peter Dollond (1730-1820), who is known to have signed his barometers simply 'Dollond London', probably as he worked with his father from 1752-1761 and then his brother John until 1766 (see E. Banfield, Barometer Makers and Retailers 1660-1900, Exeter, 1991, p. 70). Peter Dollond is recorded working in London at Vine Street, Spitalfields; Golden Spectacles and Sea Quadrant, near Exeter Exchange, Strand; 59 St. Paul's Churchyard; and finally 35 Haymarket. Born the son of John Dollond, a Huguenot silk-weaver, he was only twenty when he started in business as an optician, however, he soon demonstrated his brilliance as an instrument-maker and was appointed optician to George III.
    The design of this 'contra' or 'bak' barometer is unusual as it follows the box-like form of Dutch barometers (the word 'bak' means box in Dutch), rather than the simple stick barometer shape usually adopted in the late eighteenth century in England. Perhaps Peter Dollond's Huguenot family connections led him to adopt this Dutch shape. Elements of the design are also Dutch in style, such as the chequer banding on the inner border of the case. A Dutch 'contra' barometer, by J. Waldi & Comp., Groningen, dating to the late eighteenth or early 19th century, with similar inlay and open pediment, was sold anonymously, Christie's, Amsterdam, 30 March 2004, lot 326. However, the silvered plate and high quality carved quadrant Corinthian columns on this barometer are typical of English workmanship. These features as well as the Dollond's signature identify this as an English barometer. No other barometers of this form are known to have been made by Dollond.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Saleroom Notice

    As it was not possible to remove the mercury safely from the tubes, the tubes have been removed. They will be available to the purchaser after the auction.


    Pre-Lot Text

    JAMES THURSBY PELHAM AND THE SYMONDSIAN TRADITION OF COLLECTING

    Thursby Pelham's collection is today best-known from the numerous pieces included in that seminal work of English furniture scholarship: the first edition of The Dictionary of English Furniture, published in 1924 by the fathers of English furniture history Percy Macquoid and Ralph Edwards. Examples were sourced by the authors not only from great historic collections such as Badminton House, The Royal Collection and Blenheim Palace, but also pieces owned by the great collectors of that era. Thursby Pelham belonged firmly to that select band of pioneer collectors whose pieces were chosen to help illustrate The Dictionary. They were fortunate enough to benefit from the wise counsel of another great furniture historian: R. W. Symonds. Symonds preached the primacy of quality. Dense timber, crisp and confident carving, a certain elegance of line, originality of the whole, patination and 'colour' were all elements he considered of equal importance to provenance. His fellow collectors, from and to whom pieces were often traded, are names synonymous with the principles of quality espoused and taught by Symonds : Percival Griffiths, Lord Plender, J. S. Sykes, Herbert Rothbarth, Geoffrey Blackwell, Sir John Prestige and many others, their names appearing in the provenance of a catalogue entry always give the present-day collector serious pause for thought. Several of these famed collections were written up in Country Life. Thursby Pelham's turn came in April 1923 and a series of four articles by Oliver Brackett details the glories of his collection. Several pieces included in the present selection were illustrated in those articles and also in The Dictionary (lots 635-637 & 641). His own copy of The Dictionary is included as lot 632. His family's home in the seventeenth century was Upton Cresset Hall in Shropshire, and then Cound Hall, also in Shropshire, which had been built for Edward Cresset in 1704. He developed a love of mid-18th century mahogany and early oak furniture, perhaps encouraged by the furniture and pictures he inherited. Oak furniture from the same source including a cradle illustrated in The Dictionary will be sold at Christie's South Kensington, 6 November 2007; Pelham and Cresset family portraits will be sold at Christie's South Kensington, 5 December 2007 and at Christie's King Street on 7 December 2007.

    THE PROPERTY OF A DESCENDANT OF JAMES THURSBY PELHAM
    (LOTS 630-644)