James Bassnett / Maker / Liverpool. A gimbal mounted wall barometer.

James Basnett first appeared in the Liverpool Directory working at No. 4 Barnes Court, Shaw Brow in 1829 as a clockmaker. In 1834, he had relocated to 13 Roberts Street and gave his occupation as a optician. From then until 1841, he is listed at various numbers on Roberts Street. It is at No. 1 Roberts Street that the spelling of his name changed to Bassnett. In 1845, he is listed as a chronometer maker. In 1855, the Company name changed again to James Bassnett & Son. By 1865, this firm was listed as a compass adjuster for iron ships. It appears his son took over the business in 1871 when the firm name again changed. This time to Thomas Bassnett and then in 1894 to Thomas Bassnett limited.

This barometer is designed to be portable. It primary use was mostly likely on a sailing ship where the gimbal mounting system would maintain the instrument in a vertical position. This gimbal is made of brass and is mounted to the wall. The instrument is then mounted to it. This example has a very fancy carved walnut case. The glass tube and cistern are fitted inside the decorative case. At the bottom is a brass container that houses the cistern. The case then transitions to wood. All of which is decorated with a number of carvings and ring turnings. The carvings are nicely executed and add to the visual pleasure of the form. Some of the carvings include a gadrooned top, a twisted trunk and carved foliage. A thermometer is nicely displayed below the gimbal connection. This is protected by glass. The dial or face of the instrument is bone. It is engraved with the Maker’s name and working location. It reads, "Jas Bassnett / MAKER / Liverpool." The numeric scale for measuring the changes in the level of mercury is displayed on the right along with the manually adjusted vernier. The left scale features the following categories. They are " VERY DRY- / SET FAIR- / FAIR- / CANGE- / RAIN- / M H RAIN- / STORMY- / *." All of this is protected by curved glass that conforms to the shape of the case.

This very interesting instrument measures approximately 37.25 long and was made circa 1850.

This instrument was owned by Captain David Cushman Jr. who was born on September 24, 1807 and died October 6, 1878. He lived most of his life in the Southeastern Massachusetts coastal town of Duxbury. He was a China trade ship’s captain and was active in the China and South Seas.

David Cushman Jr., married Mary Alden. She was a direct descendant of John Alden. David and Mary built their home on land they inherited from her father. Their home was constructed in 1846 and was Nestled along the banks of the tidal Blue Fish River. They called the property “The Anchorage.” The Alden family owned it since the 1620s. Over the years they added to the property buying additional land from relatives. The property is now a nature preserve in Duxbury – The Capt. David Cushman Jr. Preserve.


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