Lot 471
  • 471

A Fabergé jewelled gold and silver-gilt mounted enamel and hardstone barometer, workmaster Hjalmar Armfelt, St Petersburg, 1904-1908

180,000 - 250,000 GBP
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  • silver, gold, enamel, steel, diamonds, velvet, wood
in neoclassical taste, of carriage clock form, the surfaces enamelled in translucent greyish blue over wavy engine-turning within beaded borders, the bezel enamelled with an opaque white divided reed, the instrument inscribed in Russian 'storm/ rain/ changing/ clear/ very dry', the needle dial set with a moonstone, the front corners applied with laurel and berry sprays, the sides with a laurel-entwined arrow and rosette corners, the top with incurved panels set with rose-cut diamond-set bows suspending two-colour gold festoons, cast bound leaf swing handle, the white agate base on four gadrooned bun feet below a chased acanthus tip plinth, struck with workmaster's initials, 88 standard, scratched inventory number 15313, in original Fabergé wood case

Catalogue Note

Carl Fabergé, though he often borrowed from the past in his designs, was very much an innovator, embracing new technologies, materials and techniques, methods of doing business, advertising and so on; evident in his production is a keen interest in the mechanical and scientific.  Scientific instruments were becoming more readily available for home use by the early 20th century, and Fabergé was keen to transform them into objects of luxury.  In the words of Kenneth Snowman, ‘it was no doubt an appreciation of their peculiar charm that inspired Fabergé to design a whole series of his own’ (The Art of Carl Fabergé, London, 1955, p. 58).  A crude version of the aneroid barometer, a type which measures pressure without the use of any liquid, was invented in 1844.  It developed over the course of the latter half of the 19th century into the relatively sophisticated instrument which Armfelt set in a richly decorated and elegant enamel case.  Fabergé barometers are far rarer than clocks, and the present lot rarer still for not being encased in hardstone, the usual material used.