For sale, a mid-Victorian brass compensated surveyors aneroid barometer by EG Wood of 74 Cheapside London.
This superior and early example has a four and a half inch silvered dial comprised of a central three and a half inch dial measuring 25 to 31 inches of barometric pressure subdivided to twentieths of an inch and weather indications to the inner circumference. The makers name, ‘EG Wood, 74 Cheapside’ is superbly engraved to the centre along with the word compensated to denote its compensation for fluctuations in temperature.
The outer altimeter silvered ring is divided into the measurements of 0 to 6000 feet and is manoeuvred by means of the setting dial at the base of the instrument dial.
This heavy and robust instrument is encased in a lacquered brass case and speaks quality from the superior engraving through to the detailed knurling of the brass bezel. Wood was a serious maker of the Victorian period and is often overlooked but his instruments are always of the highest quality.
The retailer of this fine instrument was Edward George Wood (1811-1896) an optician and scientific instrument maker most notable for his involvement in the early photographic industry and for developments to the magic lantern. From 1833 to 1843, Wood seems to have worked alone or with his brothers, Henry & George Wood from premises in King Street and Shepperton Street in London. It is possible that Wood, initially supplied the trade with finished parts for constructing instruments as I can find no examples of his work with the early addresses. This assumption can be evidenced by recent research by Brian Stevenson through an 1844 newspaper advertisement announcing that Messrs Horne, Thornwaite & Wood have acceded to the business of Edward Palmer, “having been assistants and manufacturers to him since his first establishment in Newgate Street in 1837”. Palmer was a highly successful instrument maker and retailer of the period.
Given the above, we know that in 1844, Wood entered the successful partnership of Horne, Thornwaite and Wood, trading at Palmer’s old address of 123 Newgate, London and later expanding into 121 Newgate. The company exhibited numerous devices at The Great Exhibition and won a Prize Medal for photographic equipment. Nothing is known of Wood’s reasoning but in 1854, the partnership was dissolved with Wood leaving to form a company under his own name, established at 117 Cheapside and the other partners continuing under the name of Horne & Thornwaite where they maintained a successful business, gaining royal approval from Queen Victoria and signing their instruments with, “philosophical instrument maker’s to Her Majesty”.
In 1862, as well as exhibiting at the famous London Exhibition, Wood found the time to move his business to his better known address of 74 Cheapside and it remained there until his death in 1895. He did however, return to business with his old partners for a brief period in 1886 until 1893 whilst his own business was maintained under family ownership. The business seems to have diversified into electrical engineering during its later existence and was finally bought out by Dollond & Co Ltd in 1912.