Lincolnshire Village
SPRINGTHORPE
News Article
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SET FAIR - THE £70K BAROMETER FROM 18TH CENTURY
(Taken from the Lincolnshire Echo Archive: 30 September 2005)
An antique barometer made by a Lincolnshire man fetched £69,600 at auction.

The intricately detailed 4ft walnut stick barometer was expected to make a maximum of around £40,000.

But it was snapped up by an unnamed buyer at Sotheby's in London yesterday for well over the target.

A 270-year-old collector's item, it was in excellent condition - the main reason for its high sale price.

It was made by parson's son John Hallifax, who was born in Springthorpe, just four miles from Gainsborough, in 1694.

He embarked on his career as a clockmaker and barometer specialist after spending his youth in rural Lincolnshire.

In 1711 at the age of 17 he moved to Barnsley in South Yorkshire and became one of the masters of his trade.

Hallifax is regarded as a legendary craftsman, a pioneer of intricate design and attention to detail.

"The barometer is both rare and in fine condition," said Sotheby's clock expert Jonathan Hills.

"It was made in or around 1735 by Hallifax, who moved to Barnsley from Springthorpe. He set up as a clock and barometer maker in Barnsley and soon built a high reputation for the excellence of his work.

"Hallifax died in 1750 - the same year as the composer Johann Sebastian Bach.

"This beautiful barometer has a six inch dial with mask and leaf spandrels, a silver chapter ring and engraved leaf scrolls - the arch with a circular silvered plaque signed Jno.Hallifax,Barnsley."

The fact that Hallifax was highly regarded is confirmed by the inscription on his tombstone in the South Yorkshire town.

It reads: "Whose abilities and virtue few in these times have attained. His art and industry were such as his ingenious inventions will be a lasting monument of his merit - such as recommended him to the favour and esteem of all good men that knew him."

Springthorpe historians Dr Maureen Ille and Dr Diana Rose have both researched the history of the rural community.

Earlier this year they organised a reunion of former pupils of Springthorpe Elementary School, which closed in 1948. They were both intrigued by the tale of the son of Springthorpe who made good.

"I was absolutely amazed to hear of the story of John Hallifax," said Dr Rose, who lives in nearby Sturgate.

"And I couldn't believe it when I heard that the barometer had been sold for so much money.

"It must be a fine example of craftsmanship."

Dr Ille said: "There was a John Hallifax who was rector of Springthorpe between 1654 and 1671.

"He had two sons, William and Thomas, who both became clergymen. So the young man who went on to be a great clockmaker could have been either the son or the grandson of his namesake as there is no mention of him in the records."

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