An exceptional Royal presentation English silver pocket barometer altimeter compendium by Alfred Clark, London, with movement by Negretti & Zambra, c1900.
Silver pocket barometer having 2” stepped gilt brass and freehand engraved dial calibrated in inches of mercury with a range 25 – 31, outer rotating altitude ring calibrated from 0-8,000 feet, inset dial with standard meteorological terms "Rain," "Change" and "Fair," the lower portion having curved mercurial thermometer and associated scale calibrated in degrees Fahrenheit with a range 10 – 140, compass rose at centre marked with cardinals and intercardinals. Gilt brass barometric pointer mounted to a common arbour with jewelled suspension compass over, all set beneath bevelled glass maintained by a silver knurled bezel. The conventional gilt brass movement driven by a single 1¼” capsule, polished screws and fine adjustment to primary shaft, contained in an inner spun and lacquered brass case secured within the outer silver case. Though unsigned, the movement undoubtably the work of Negretti & Zambra.
Heavy drum-form silver case with gilt interior, the lid with inset medallion bordered in gold by Emil Fuchs and struck with the likenesses of the Duke and Duchess of York, the verso visible inside the lid, marked to the circumference "T.R.H's The Duke & Duchess of York's Visit to the Colonies 1901," royal cypher with crown, anchor and tudor rose to centre, the inner lid struck with assay marks, repeated on the rim to the lower part, for London, Silver and date letter “e” ( 1900), maker’s mark “ac” for Alfred Clark, the rim further marked "Clark, 20 Old Bond St W." The outside of the case inscribed "Richard Plantagenet Nevill from G. and V.M., Adelaide, July 15th 1901."
The compendium contained within its substantial, deep red heavily grained leather over wood, velvet and silk-lined case, Royal cypher in gold block to lid, release button and snap closure.
This silver pocket barometer compendium was clearly manufactured in very small numbers, the dial being very unusually engraved freehand - indeed the general design is unique.
A visual combination of many things: a barometer and thermometer, an altimeter and a compass, this instrument is so much more, though. It is a conspiracy of some of Britain’s finest craftsmen at the height of empire - an extremely unusual design, this is the only one such so noted with the compass needle mounted immediately atop the barometer arbour. It is a presentation piece given by George and Victoria Mary, the future King and Queen of Great Britain and the Empire, to a very able and much respected senior diplomat, Lord Richard Plantagenet Nevill, a member of a very old aristocratic British family. Alfred Clark, the maker of the fine silver case, practiced from the most prestigious of addresses, Old Bond Street in London. Clark, much favoured by the Royal family, crafted an exclusive range of objects both to be given as official gifts and as presents to family and friends. The inset medallion, commemorating the Duke and Duchess's tour of the Colonies, was commissioned by Queen Victoria from Emil Fuchs, the eminent Austrian-American sculptor, painter and miniaturist, and is one of only 300 such silver medallions struck.
In good working order, the silver case with some abrasions to base, minor marks and wear, minor discolouration. The leather case with some losses, wear and abrasions, the silk lining to lid perished, the velvet lining generally faded. Original condition throughout, conserved and serviced.
It would be easy to understate the importance of this wonderful piece - an object that perhaps one might almost fear to handle. Truly the embodiment of beauty, history and practicality in one glorious silver pocket barometer compendium.