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38 Elliott Company History Illustrated by Artefacts

image of Elliott Company History Illustrated by Artefacts

The firm of Elliott went through various changes between about 1804 and 1900 and had several London addresses during that period, all well documented by Gloria Clifton in SIS Bulletin 36 and the Directory of Scientific Instrument Makers using primarily Guild records and trade directories.

 There is little other archival evidence of the firm's products and activities prior to 1851. No catalogues or advertisements are known prior to those of the 1851 Great Exhibition and in Heather's ‘Treatise on Mathematical Instruments’ of 1853. The Company's own historic collection, although reasonably extensive, contains no objects earlier than 1850.

Knowledge of the early product range might however be acquired from surviving artefacts with Elliott signatures and early addresses which would allow them to be dated within a few years. A collection with this theme would also compensate for the absence of early objects in the company's own historic collection.

Objects from most of the addresses have been found after 227 High Holborn (1827–1833). In the process a sector by Wm. Backwell Snr., who was William Elliott's apprenticeship master was found, and other objects from Watkins & Hill who were absorbed by Elliott in 1857. Many others have been noticed. A small selection of objects from my collection is shown.

  • Miniature pocket drawing set, W. Elliott 268 Holborn, 1835–1849, comprising compasses/dividers, ivory rule and an ivory case for lead.
  • Ivory sector, W. Elliott & Sons, therefore 56 Strand, 1850–1853
  • 3–draw telescope, Elliott Bros, 56 Strand & 5 Charing Cross (formerly Watkins & Hill) 1856 -1857
  • Pocket barometer/altimeter, Elliott Bros. 449 Strand.1884–1886
  • Cavalry Sketch Board, Capt. Verner's pattern, Elliot Bros London, probably St. Martin's Lane, after 1891
  • Tachometer, Young's Patent, Elliott Bros (London) Ltd, after 1916, c. 1930 – 1940

Collection: Ron Bristow, Kent

For a detailed discussion of the Elliot family of instrument makers and their products see:
Bulletin of the Scientific Instrument Society, No. 36 March 1993:
G.Clifton, ‘Introduction to the History of Elliott Brothers up to 1900’, pp. 2-7 and H.R.Bristow, ‘Elliott, Instrument Makers of London; Products, Customers and Development in the 19th Century’, pp. 8-11.

Objects lent by Ron Bristow, Kent:

05. Aluminium for Scientific Instruments

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