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J. Hicks, Hatton Garden | Pocket Altimeter Barometer c.1880

J. Hicks Pocket Altimeter Barometer c.1880

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An excellent Victorian pocket altimeter barometer, made by J. Hicks, of Hatton Garden, London, and dating from the last quarter of the 19th century. It would have been used by explorers, mountaineers, or travellers. It was made in England, around 1880-1890, by J. Hicks, probably the best maker of the time. The barometer has a rotating bezel, calibrated from zero to 10,000 feet, a blued needle, a beautifully gilded brass case, and a fitted, satin and blue velvet lined, morocco leather case. The barometer also has an adjustment screw on the rear. It is quite large for a pocket barometer, at 70mm (2 3/4 inches) diameter.

J. Hicks, Hatton Garden, London: James J. Hicks (1837-1916) established his business in Hatton Garden, London in 1861 and quickly became the most important supplier of barometers and meteorological equipment in London. By 1914 the company had 150 employees. The company traded at 8 Hatton Garden, before expanding to 8, 9, & 10 Hatton Garden (c.1890s). In 1852 Hicks had been apprenticed to L. P. Casella of Hatton Garden, where by 1860 he had risen to the status of foreman. This date marks also the first of many patents filed by Hicks, principally relating to meteorological and clinical thermometers, but covering other items such as barometers, hydrometers and radiometers, aneroid barometers, and various medical appliances utilizing aneroid pressure capsules. From 1878, as an independent manufacturer, Hicks catered to the developing science of meteorology, the growing use of industrial control instruments, and to military needs, by the provision of scientific, industrial, and domestic thermometers, barometers, and pressure gauges, and many other types of apparatus.


The barometer is in very good condition and full working order, and passes the plastic bag pressure test. The gilt brass case is in very good condition, with only minor wear to the original gilt and lacquered finish. The bevelled glass is in very good condition. The dial and needle are in very good condition. The leather case is in very good condition, with minor signs of wear. The exterior push-button is missing, but the interior catch is present and working, keeping the case closed properly. The case can easily be opened simply by applying a little pressure at the spot where the button would have been.

Dimensions : 70mm diameter (case: 80mm)