Sale of Clocks, Barometers & Scientific Instruments - 16 Feb 2011

Although the collecting of clocks, barometers and scientific instruments is a rarified and highly specialised field, it has a dedicated and enthusiastic following. Dreweatts holds sales per year and on Wednesday 16th February it is staging a fine sale of 132 lots at Donnington Priory.

One of the most unusual items in the sale is the very rare mahogany cased aneroid barocyclonometer, designed by the Jesuit priest Jose Algue and made by Schmidt & Ziegler, Remscheld (lot 26). Also known as a ‘Typhoon Barometer’ this remarkable instrument was the culmination of the efforts of two successive Jesuit priest directors of the Manila Observatory.

The problem of predicting destructive typhoons which took dozens of lives in the Philippines every year (and still does), led to Federico Faura and then Algue to forecast the direction from which a typhoon would approach. The item for sale at Donnington is probably from the very early series of German made models as specified for the order of the US Navy and is estimated at £1,000-1,500.

Other noteworthy pieces at Dreweatts include an important Charles II ebonised thirty-hour long case clock in remarkably good condition, made by William Raynes of York in circa 1678 (lot 124). Retaining all its original wheel-work including escapement, it is a very rare survivor as its pine construction makes it prone to dilapidation. As it can be confidently dated to the latter years of the 1670s, it is reasonable to suggest that it is the earliest surviving longcase clock to be made in York, and it has an estimate of £12,000-18,000.

A rare George II longcase clock (lot 127) of month duration with year calendar and equation of time by John Topping of London is expected to fetch £8,000-12,000. Datable to circa 1780 this clock with its complex dial layouts was fashionable during the formative years of the 18th century amongst the wealthy who wanted to express their social standing by owning innovative and complex clocks in exotic cases; John Topping was one of the clock makers who specialised in satisfying such a demand. The presence of the equation of time within the year calendar meant that local meantime could be set from a sundial – this being the most efficient way to set the time with a certain amount of accuracy. The clock for sale has a recessed triangular silvered signature plate engraved with the words ‘John Topping, London, MEMORY MASTER’, but the meaning of the latter two words, is a mystery.

To view the sale catalogue online, please click here.

For further information on the sale, please call Dreweatts’ Donnington Priory Salerooms on 01635 553553 or email

For press information, please contact Vanessa Clewes-Salmon, email: or telephone: 020 8458 3288

Dreweatts - 02 February 2011