The Slightly Less Elusive Ortellis of London,
Buckingham, Marlborough and various and other places, as well as their barometers, 1798-circa 1834
Where did the Ortellis originally come from?
the 1840s, an Ortelli peddling barometers in Scotland would tell a chance aquaintance that he came from Rivolta near
Como, and that put me onto a false trail for a while. The only Rivolta is Rivolta di Adda, which is in Lombardy, in
the province of Cremona. However, I am sure that the traveller misheard or incorrectly remembered what he had been told. The
Ortellis whom I've traced back to their Italian roots are all from Rovenna, overlooking the western bank
of the western leg of Lake Como. It should be noted that Rovenna produced at least three more fine quality barometer-making
families: Della Torre, Barelli and Gatty, the latter being an anglicisation of Gatti. Throughout the 19th century
there are marital links between all four families.
English view of the poverty of people of Lake Como, it is worth saying that an Italian writer of the period didn't seem
to find such grinding poverty in Rovenna:
Sulle falde di questa montagna ampia
si veggon le terre di Piazza e Rovenna patria del celebre pittore Angiol Michele Colonna. Vi si raccoglie frumento do grani
si belli e grossi, che volontieri cuocesi in minestra alla foggia del farre e dell’orzo. A pochi passi da Rovenna avvi
una caverna detta il Pertugio della Volpe, e malgrado il difficile ingresso vi si mise dentro in dottor physico Onorato Solari.
Trovolla estendersi per 900 piedi parigini, e n’estrasse lunghi pezzi d’albastro assai bello. [On the sides
of that large mountain you come to the Piazza and Rovenna, birthplace of the famous painter Angiol Michele Colonna. There
the people gather a harvest of grains that are so beautiful and fat that they cry out to be cooked in soups... A short distance
from Rovenna is the cave known as the Pertugio della Volpe...it extends for 900 Parisian feet and they extract long
pieces of rather beautiful alabaster.]
Viaggio del Lago di Como di Poliante Lariano; Giovanni Battista
Giovio, published 1817, three years after the author's death.
|View from Rovenna over Como
When did they
first leave Como and reach Britain?
The answer to this is not simple. The short answer is that
the first record of their presence in Britain dates to 1798, thus coinciding with that critical period of late
18th century war, persecution and poverty. I don't know which of these prompted the first of the Ortellis to make the
decision to leave. I think, too, that they did not just decide to go to England. There is a in existence a barometer signed
Ortally, Paris, datable to the period before the French Revolution, and that suggests they had a staging post, so to speak.
Given that the della Torres definitely worked in Paris in the late 18th century, and that the two families came from Rovenna,
this isn't too great a surprise.
The London Records
The records of the capital are well-preserved and wide-ranging, and it is the The London Land Tax Records that
prove that the first Ortelli was in London before (or right at the start of) 1798. This set of records lists,
street by street, who owned the properties and the names of any tenants. It even give the rents paid by those tenants,
on which the owner was assessed for tax.
Tthere is nothing to preclude the possibility that the Ortellis
had made a prior visit as pedlars or spent time peddling before settling down. They might well have been working for or with
the Della Torres at their London premises. Anthony della Torre, optician, worked
at 4 Leigh Street, Red Lion Square, Holborn, from 1805-1811 with further directory references to an Anthony della Torre
at the same address in the 1820s. Opticians, with their skill in working with glass, were just the sort of craftsmen to be
making barometer and thermometer tubes etc.
The parish baptisms, marriages and death
records from the period before the introduction of civil registrations for birth, marriage and death in 1837 are also
very good for London. We are lucky to have parish records of the Italians because they were Catholics, and while Catholics
were no longer subject to official persecution that used to include imprisonment and death by various
unpleasant methods, they still faced state discrimination. They had no public places of worship in which to conduct the sacraments,
but in London they could hear Mass at the Sardinian Embassy, close to Holborn, which counted as sovereign foreign soil.
Conveniently for the historian they seemed to have made good use of the Church of England for baptisms, marriages and burials
and so can often be found in the parish registers. George Borrow's Norwich and Corunna acquaintance, Luigi Pozzi, allegedly
observed wistfully to the author :
I have travelled all over England
and never met with ill usage, except once down in the north amongst the Papists, upon my telling them to leave all their mummeries
and go to the parish church as I did, and as all my countrymen in England did; for know one thing, Signor Giorgio, not one
of us who have lived in England, whether Piedmontese or men of Como, but wished well to the Protestant religion, if he had
not actually become a member of it.
You have to be careful in taking this at
face value: Borrow was, after all, employed by the Bible Society and may have improved upon Pozzi's words. But the evidence
seems to be there in the parish records. However, it should also be remembered that, at this period,before civil registration was
introduced in 1837, couples marrying in England were required to have a Church of England ceremony for their
marriage to be legal. When it came to death, who else if not the C of E would see them buried when they died? When
Catholic places of worship became widespread, the Italians certainly used them, but here we probably get a split between those
who married into English families and who continued with the C of E, and those who married Italian girls and who were
faithful to Catholicism. The wealthier Ortellis married Italian women and remained practising Catholics.
names do we have for these early Ortellis?
of the names are known from records, others through the signatures (not literally signatures, just engraved names) on barometers
P Ortelli ought to be Peter (1),
N Ortelli is so far unidentified but there are so few Italian Christian
names for men that begin with N, and it's a fair guess that is stands for Niccolo or Nicola (that's a man's name
in Italy). There was a Nicola Ortelli in Rovenna but I know nothing of his working life or whether he ever left
D. Ortelli, at this period, is probably Domenico, because, again, it is a very unusual initial for
an Italian man. If so, I would wager a small amount of money that he is the father of, Antonio, one of the two most
fully documented Ortellis to work in England. There is another candidate: Domenico Ortelli, born on 10 Octover 1787. One of
his godparents was Nicola Ortalli. I don't think I will ever know his identity.
Giuseppe Ortelli is documented at
Cross Street as Joseph Ortelli.
Francis is known only from his 1817 burial record in the register of St Andrew
Charles was buried at St Andrew Holborn in 1814; he too exists only as a burial record.
On 30 January 2008 Gorringes auctioned a wheel barometer signed F Ortelli. It has four glasses and a scroll pediment but,
certainly in the auction house image, it looks heavy and lacks the lines of a barometer made before 1817, so i would rule
out Francis. It might have a link to a Felix who died in Devon in 1836.
J. Ortelli. Possibly Joseph.
You’ll have noted that Italian names were often anglicised, if not
by their bearers then by public officials and, of course, engravers. Giovanni Maria Ronchetti quickly became John Merry Ronchetti/Ronketti/Ronkite;
the Ortellis can be found as Ortali, Ottelli, Ottelle, Ortalli,Orselli, Ortelle or Ortelly. Confusingly, there is a family
named Ortell, but they seem to be fully paid-up English who just happened to live in the parish of St Andrew Holborn.
Pizzala is sometimes rendered phonetically as Pitsalla, Grego can be Gragg or Grago; Gabalio has turned up as Gabial and Gabalis.
Christian names, too, were anglicised in records: Pietro/Peter; Giuseppe/Joseph; Domenico/Dominic, Jacopo/James; Giovanni/John.
The Post Office
Directory of 1808 lists "Ortelli, Joseph & Co, Merchants, 20 Cross Street, Hatton Garden", an address which
appears on a few Ortelli barometers. Tracking down Joseph - Giuseppe - has been a fruitless task so far. Significantly,
however, in 1808 the address was shared with "Gabalio P. Barometer maker, Wholesale, Retail and for Exportation".
The 1809 Kent’s Directory lists Ortelli & Co at 20 Cross Street, Hatton Garden, as carvers and gilders. So presumably
Gabalio was paying the rent and sub-letting to the Ortellis. And who were the " & Co" in "Ortelli
Going back to the London Land Tax Registers, Peter Gabalio is
listed in Cross street from 1805-1810. However, there are hardly any recorded examples of extant
Gabalio barometers but there are lots of Ortellis, and not just Ortellis of Macclesfield. Yet remember
that Gabalio is listed as a barometer maker for Wholesale, Retail and for Exportation. That suggests he was making
on a reasonable scale. The Webster Signature Database http://historydb.adlerplanetarium.org/signatures/, quoting Goodison,
also ascribes wheel barometers to Gabalio and gives an additional address of 3 Long Lane. So where are all the Gabalio
instruments? He must have made his instruments for others to sell, and maybe the Ortellis were good customers.
|Marine barometer by Gabalio
|Courtesy of Oscar Fontijn, Fontijn Antiek.
In the 1814 Post Office Directory, Joseph Ortelli is still at 20 Cross Street but there is no mention
of Gabalio. However, F Pastorelli is at 4 Cross Street as a barometer maker, Ronketti is at 6 Peter Street, Bloomsbury,
and there is an entry for T Renketh, junior, as a 'barometer etc' maker at 3 High Street Bloomsbury. This could well
be another bastardisation of Ronchetti. Looking Glass makers with Italian names comprise: A Salteri, P & P Gally,
P Barnarda, J Pizzala; P Barnaschina at 4 Leather lane was recorded as a picture frame manufactory, with Tagliabue and Torre
listed as opticians.
Back to the Ortellis
The link between all
these early Ortellis undoubtedly lies somewhere in the parish records of Rovenna, though, to tell the truth, we haven't
found them so far.
The London business ended in 1825, and this councided with the death of Peter Ortelli,
born circa 1780 and buried on 2 Jan 1825.
PETER ORTELLI (1) Born c1780- Buried 2 Jan 1825
Peter's date of birth from his age as given in the burial register at St Andrew Holborn in London, but there is a good
chance he may have been born in 1786, and if so, he was the brother of Antonio whom we will meet soon. I have no information re the date of Peter Ortelli's arrival, but by
1811 he had a substantial shop in Buckingham where in that same year he married a local girl from a prosperous family. In
1813 he sold off his stock and furniture to move to an unspecified 'distant county'.
follows an eleven year gap in the Peter Ortelli story, but he and his wife must have gone to live in London at some
stage because according to the burial register of St Andrew Holborn, he was living at Brooks Market, Holborn, when
he died at the very end of 1824 or very early in 1825. His wife outlived him by almost twenty years, dying in London after
being made bankrupt.
Peter Ortelli was far from being the only immigrant
Italian to put down roots and marry in Britain at this period, nor the only Ortelli to do so. The Joseph Ortelli who was described
as a Merchant in the Post Office and the Kent’s directories of 1808 and 1809 respectively may or may not be the Joseph whose
son, also named Joseph, was baptised in Hay, Breckonshire [Hay-on-Wye] on 15 July 1814. He is described in the parish
burial register as a pedlar.Kembury Antique Clocks Ltd sold a lovely Ortelli Sheraton with rope stringing, dated by them to
about 1810, and signed Jos. Ortelli & Co of Bath [See Barometer Image No. 30]. It also has the word Fecit. Joseph
Ortelli ought therefore, have made the instrument, but probably not in Bath – that was where he sold it. The odds are
that it was made in London.
ANTHONY ORTELLI (1) 1790-1873
Ortelli's connection with Buckingham, it's not surprising to find a batch of barometer with a Buckingham signature,
but it isn't his name on them. It's that of Anthony Ortelli.
BUCK1: A Sheraton type, signed
A Ortelli Buckingham was sold by Musgrave Bickford Antiques, Devon.
BUCK2: A stick barometer circa 1800, also signed A Ortelli, Buckingham, was auctioned by Waddingtons,
Toronto, in December 2010, from the collection of Katrina Wilson, Toronto 39ins/99.1cms long
A 6" wheel barometer in mahogany with swan neck pediment, dating from late 1820s-early
1830s. Private collection, Cheshire. Barometers with very small dials are considered highly desirable
|BUCK3: Six inch dial Buckinham Ortelli
|Courtesy of Andrew Foott
BUCK4: An 1820 Sheraton, signed A Ortelli Buckingham, alcohol thermometer, shell
and flower inlay, boxwood strung. Auctioned by Bigwood, 24 September 2010, Lot 310. Image requested
|BUCK5: A. Ortelli with centre hygrometer
|Courtesy of Andrew Foott
BUCK5: A 10 inch wheel barometer with, most unusually, a centrally mounted hygrometer. When fitted
to an instrument, the hygrometer was almost always at the top, above the thermometer case. Private collection, Cheshire.
Mahogany Barometer with brass finial, 12" long thermometer box, 8" dial, inscribed A Ortelli, Buckingham, and Warranted.
with flower and shell inlays, Ebony and satinwood stringing. 39" (99cm) high That came from an online dealer in Manningtree,
but they appear to be no longer in business.
BUCK7: mahogany wheel barometer with hygrometer,
thermometer, main dial and spirit level. Swan neck pediment with brass finial, Line inlay and delighful foliate engraving
to the centre of the main dial, and with the little leaf motif at the top of the thermometer plate. The spirit level is signed
A Ortelli, Buckingham 1817. A very elegant instrument. Reference: http://savannah.craigslist.org/atq/3564170080.html
|BUCK7: A Ortelli, Buckingham, 4-dial, 1817
|BUCK7: Spirit level showing the 1817 date
|BUCK8: Ortelli & Co Buckingham
|Courtesy of Brentwood Auctions
BUCK8: This very
plain four-dial mahogany barometer signed Ortelli & Co, Buckingham, with broken pediment and shell inlay,was auctioned
by Brentwood Antique Auctions in 2011, Lot 419. Small circular motif to dial centre, no decoration to other plates.
Name and town must be on the level plate which is obscured by some unspecified stuff.
BUCK9: No image for this now
available, but described in auction catalogue as 'Late George III'. Evdiently a Sheraton, 100 cms long, and signedA
Ortelli Buckingham. Sold 7 July 2003, Bath, Lot 137 by Bonhams. provenance given as The Remaining Contents of Ashley Grange.
BUCK10: No image available
now, but a wheel barometer inlaid with a shell motif and signed Pizzi Ortelli Buckingham. Sold at Par by Bonhams, lot 81,
2 Dec 2004. This description of what could well be a Sheraton suggests that the partnership existed at least as
early as about 1825.
was born in 1790,
in Rovenna and came to Buckingham between late 1814 and 1817 with his wife and daughter. It could
not have been earlier - unless he had made brief visits before 1814, and it has to be by 1817 because of the existence
of the 1817 barometer, listed above. Other references, not least the birth of three further daughters, also place Antonio
in the town during the next few years. Like Peter (1) before him (and I suspect they were brothers) he was a jeweller,
but his shop sold many other things, not least barometers, and he may have had some hand in making ot assembling them. It
is interesting that, if they were so closely related, that Peter did not stay in Buckingham and hand over a going concern
to Antonio. Instead, as we know, Peter sold up and Antonio must have started from scratch.
An auction catalogue recorded
the existence of a barometer (possibly of Sheraton style) signed, "Pizzi Hetti, Buckingham". That should undoubtedly
read "Pizzi & Cetti" Buckingham. In the mid 1830s there was a Paul Cetti
with an Ortelli and a Bianchi
in Reading, proof, if it were needed, of the web of links, often transient, between
these Italian immigrants. That Reading Ortelli was Defendente
, soon to become Antonio's son-in-law and
A major blow struck during the brief period between the birth of his last daughter and
the early Spring of 1828, with the sudden death of his wife. He returned to Italy and there remarried, to Angela
Primavesi. Four years later, Angela's brother, Fedele, married Antonio's sister, Marta
Maria. They, too, would come to England, and probably Antonio and his new wife, plus the son born to them in 1830 - Giovanni
- and Antionio's daughters from his first marriage travelled with them. Antonio's was
in partnership with Joseph Pizzi in Buckingham from 1828-1834.
I have a four year gap in his life, after which
he resurfaces not far away, in Oxford. There is a hint that he was ill round this time.
Clocks by Ortelli of Buckingham
In 2009 Colwyn Bay auctioneers Rogers Jones sold a a Regency
mahogany cased bracket clock with pineappple finial, signed Anthony Ortelli, Buckingham. It fetched
£1200, ex commission, and was the most expensive item in a £12,000 collection of antiques etc belonging to the
late Betty Roberts of Criccieth who died on May 31, 2009 in Criccieth aged 92 years. She was the widow of Thomas
Owen Roberts, and the Roberts were seafarers.For how long they had owned the clock is unknown, but it was bought by a
telephone bidder from Buckingham, so maybe it has returned home.
Lot 356: A Silver Hunter Pocket
Watch with fusee movement by Pizzi & Ortelli, Buckingham (No.4512), London 1828. That was the catalogue description
by Richards auctioneers of Axbridge 2Dec 2009, and is also the proof of the partnership existing in or before 1828. It sounds
as if Ortelli and Pizzi actually did make the fusee movement. A fusee movement has a brass cone on which you wind a fine chain
using the key. Very easy to recognise, especially if you have a clock with glass panels that lets you see the movement.
A 19th Century silver cased, engine turned, pocket watch with
key PIZZI D'ORTELLI BIRMINGHAM [Assume that should read Pizzi & Ortelli]. Lot 467 Richardsons, Bourne 4/6/2009.
Early nineteenth century eight day longcase clock, by Ortelli of Buckingham, with painted arch
dial with lunar phase decorated with moon and galleon at sea, the spandrels painted depicting allegories of the four Continents,
the circular dial with subsidiary seconds, calendar aperture and Roman numerals, in an inlaid mahogany case with swan-neck
pediment, turned columns with brass Corinthian capitals and inlaid shell paterae, on bracket feet, 231cm high. The condition
report included a note that Plate behind dial is signed Wilkes & Son. The latter made dials from 1820-1831. The
clock is very handsome. Wish I had a big enough house for a longcase clock.
A.Ortelli, Buckingham - circa '1870' A 'London' style flame mahogany cased 8 day pointed arched
dial (12 x 16.5) longcase clock, showing seconds and striking on a bell. the clock stands 82 high having
a full length (33) arched top trunk door with peripheral moulding. the breakarch hood with reeded columns and fretwork and
rectangular fretted side windows. Dickins, Lot 708, sold 8/10/2011. I think that 1870 date is a typo, given
the image of the clock.
A. Ortelli Buckingham, an early 19th century mahogany
longcase clock. The hood having a fretted pediment with brass capped pilasters, the trunk with arched waist door,
on box plinth with later bracket feet, 8-day four pillar mechanism with rack bell strike, faced by an arched white painted
dial with subsidiary seconds, 2.12m high. Auctioned by Bigwood: Lot 323, 24 Nov 2011
Other Ortelli Barometers of this period
from the Macclesfield and Buckingham groups, there are Ortelli barometers engraved with the names of other towns or, indeed,
no town at all. It is more than likely that all were made in London.
|LON1: Cross-banded Ortelli & Co London
|By courtesy of Toovey's Auctioneers
LON1. Veneered in flame mahogany (the repro does
not do it justice), cross-banded in rosewood and with ebony and boxwood stringing, with a scroll pediment,
this could be the highest quality barometer to carry the Ortelli name. The engraving of flowers, leaves and birds on
the main dial is splendid. The barometer is signed on the spirit level Ortelli & Co, 20 Cross Street Hatton Garden, London,
and should date from or before 1817 as that seems to be the last year in which the Ortellis rented the Cross Street premises,
but it could well be a few years later. It measures 114cms (almost 45 ins), which makes it a large instrument. In the
image, it looks almost identical to a barometer by Charles Somalvico which also features a bird motif. That
particular barometer features in Banfield's 'Barometers - Wheel or Banjo" on page 70 and 71. There is every chance
they used the same engraver. The only concern is that the engraving of "Ortelli & Co" and "London"
on the level plate is not as good as the decoration of main dial, though "20 Cross Street" is engraved
in script. Unfortunately, the image in the book is not large enough to reveal the engraving on the spirit level of the
Somalvico instrument. Banfield estimates that barometer at circa 1815, which would certainly support a similar date for the
|Lon12 Ortelli, London, Sheraton
|Courtesy of Nimbus Antiques
|Lon2 Ortelli, Sheraton
|Courtesy of Nimbus Antiques
LON2: A lovely Mahogany Sheraton barometer, signed Ortelli & Co, London. Boxwood
stringing, crisp floral and shell inlays and broken pediment with brass finial to top. Currently for sale at Nimbus Antiques
|LON3: Ortelli & Co London
|By Courtesy of Tennants Auctioneers
LON3: Mahogany Sheraton barometer signed Ortelli & Co, London, circa 1825.
Broken pediment, shell and flower paterae, with stringing and line inlay to the edges of the case, alcohol thermometer
tube, 8-inch dial, 98cm high. Auctioned by Tennants, 19 November 2009
Ortalli & Co, London, 38" Sheraton, with beautiful marquetry stringing, floral and foliate engraving
to main dial, and a pretty leaf and flower engraving 'sprouting ' from the top of the thermometer.
Acorn finial. sold by Horologica, Billericay. Image doesn't do justice to the stringing.
|LON4: detail of dial
|Alas the stringing detail doesn't show up! Courtesy of Horologica
|LON4: Ortalli & Co London
|courtesy of Horologica
LON5: Mahogany wheel barometer with inlaid string banding and shell panels by Ortelli
and Co, Hatton Garden, London. It lacks the star or flower inlays of the Sheraton. Looking at the image, it
is probably among the least impressive of the Ortelli barometers, but needs restoration. Sold 2012 by Wotton auctions.
LON6. Wheel barometer with thermometer, hygrometer, and convex
mirror, signed on the level dial P.Ortelli, London . No image available, but the text claims it is George III. Auctioned
by Lawrences of Bletchingly in 2001
A George III boxwood-strung mahogany stick barometer, the silvered Vernier
scale signed Ortelli & Co. London with alcohol thermometer, the case with finial to the architectural pediment and moulded
cistern cover - 39½ (100cm.) high. No image, but sold by Christies, Sale 6478, lot 82.
A German-based vendor sold a wheel barometer signed Ortelly & Co London. No useful description is given, other than that
it was decorative, and no image was available, but with measurement of 98cm x 26cms it has the proportions of a typical Sheraton.
LON9 Sheraton barometer
by Ortelli & Co. London. with conch shell and flower inlays, 97 cms high. Was in the hands of Lancaster Antiques in New
Zealand but they may have ceased trading as the site is now owned by Cordy’s auctions.
Two glass mahogany wheel barometer with broken pediment, signed Ortelli, London. Pretty little floral motif to
dial. Just acquired by its owner, needing restoration. Private collection, Cheshire.
|LON10: 2-glass Ortelli & Co London
|Courtesy of Andrew Foott
|LON11: Round top, Ortelly & Co 19 Leather Lane
|Courtesy of Pook & Pook auctions, Downington PA
LON11. In many ways the most most
unusual of all the instruments so far: a mahogany round top with shell and flower inlay and mercury thermometer, signed Ortelly
& Co, 49 Leather Lane, Holborn. This is the first record of an Ortelli barometer bearing this address. The engraving
of 'Change' in upper case Roman characters, in a gentle convex arc that parallels the copperplate script of the name
and address beneath it is also unexpected but not unique. Graded in tenths. Somewhat distressed, with the dial re-screwed
off centre. Auctioned by Pook & Pook Philadelphia, 14 Dec 2012, Lot 150. Comments on the likely date gratefully received!
LON12: Ortelli & Co. London, mahogany
Sheraton. Almost identical to LON10 with its free floral and foliage engraving , but it has the shell
and flower inlay. Probably dates to around 1820 and, like 21A and others, was made for the cheaper end of
the market. Sold by Stroud Auction Rooms in January 2012, lot 204
|LON12: Basic Sheraton, Ortelli & Co London
|Courtesy of Stroud Auctions
LON13: A boxwood-strung mahogany
Sheraton with flower and shell inlay and alcohol thermometer, 40 inches high. Just above the centre of the dial is a
feathery little motif of a bud and three leaves. The inlays are simple but the whole effect is rather sweet. Auctioned
by Mitchells Antiques and Fine Art, 16 June 2011, Lot 867. Image requested
LON14: Sheraton signed Ortelli & Co, London, broken pediment over inlaid rosette,
arched thermometer box and 8-inch signed silvered dial 96.5cm (39in) long. Auctioned Bonhams, London. Lot
263, 3 March 2008
|Courtesy of Bonhams Auctioneers
|LON14: pediment and flower inlay
|Not exactly symmetrical!
LON15: This is probably a four-dial
with broken pediment, but the only image of it is a partial view on Invaluable, and Cameo Auctions, who sold it in 2007, went
bankrupt in 2011. It is known to have a 10-inch dial and to be signed by J Ortelli London. When sold it was missing its hygrometer.
The image did not show the bottom but I presume it had a spirit level. The shoulder puts it post 1820 and the neck is not
quite as flowing as, say, No 4 It looks to have been a handsome piece.
LON16: A stick barometer signed John
Ortelly & Co London. Boxwood and ebony chequered line inlay to the mahogany case, broken pediment . Sold in 2004 by Gardiner
Houlgate Auctioneers, Lot 435. Datable to around 1810-1815. Unfortunately, the auction house no longer as an image of
it, This is so far the only John Ortelly or Ortelli barometer to turn up. No information about him, either,
|LON17: Ortelli & Co London, Sheraton c. 1820
|Courtesy of Durrants Auctioneers
Sheraton, probably from around 1820, with central dial engraving rather like a ripsaw blade of a circular saw, Alchohol
thermometer, line inlay, possibly ebony strung. Signed Ortelli & Co London. Sold March 2013, Lot 14, by Durrant's
|Courtesy of Gorringes
really handsome four-dial wheel barometer, measuring 3ft 6inches, probably dating to around 1820, mahogany veneer, stringing,
signed Ortelli & Co London
|Courtesy of Cheffins Fine Art
|Lon9, stick signed Ortelli & Co fecit London
|Courtesy of Cheffins Fine Art auctioneers
|Lon19, stick signed Ortelli & Co fecit London
|Courtesy of Cheffins Fine Art auctioneers
LON19: Stick barometers with a London signature
are rare among the Ortelli instruments. This typical stick barometer from around 1810-15 is signed Ortelli & Co London,
and carries the further information 'fecit', which is nice to see. Replacement tube, turned cistern cover, herringbone
pattern veneer down the trunk. 100.5 cms. Plenty of dust....
LON20: Mahogany Sheraton sold on
Ebay in September 2013. Very typical and signed J. Ortelli London in cursive script. Presumably Joseph. Small,
fairly plain, central engraving. Leaf motif engraved on the thermometer register plate, to 'sprout' from the
tube. Thin engraved wavy line outlines the thermometer bed. As i was pipped at the post for this, I am feeling very
sore. Images requested from seller. Maybe buyer will get in touch.
|Courtesy Kembury Antique Clocks and Barometers
|Courtesy Kembury Antique Clocks and Barometers
LON21: Typical Sheraton
of the 1815-1820 period signed Ortelli & Co, in upper case, over the engraved floral motif above the spindle.
London is engraved in cursive script on the lower half of the dial. Another Ortelli with a lovely little
sprig motif - similar to the designs on LON13 and LON10. The case edge is strung witth both boxwood
and ebony. Height 39 1/2ins. (100cms.). Currently for sale at Kembury Clocks.
|No. 22 Ortelli of London Sheraton
|courtesy of Mallams Auctions, Cheltenham
Signed Ortelli, London, this simple Sheraton is unremarkable
and in need of restoration. The silvering has entirely gone from the thermometer plate and main dial. The decoration
on the dial is minimal and confined to the very centre. Shell and flower inlays are standard. Auctioned 5 June by Mallams,
BATH1: Mahogany stick barometer, signed Ortelli of Bath., with vernier, exposed mercury tube, chevron
veneer, elegantly inlaid cistern cover, alcohol thermometer and broken pediment. Auctioned by Rago Arts 333 North Main Street
Lambertville NJ 08530 in April 2003
|BATH2: Jos. Ortelli & Co.
|Courtesy of Kembury Clocks
|BATH2: Detail of shell inlay and stringing
|Courtesy of Kembury Antique Clocks
BATH2: Sheraton barometer from about 1810,
Shell and flower inlays to the mahogany case. which is edged with really attractive marquetry stringing in the 'rope'
form. A convex cast bezel, and engraved silvered dial signed ' Jos. Ortelli & Co. Fecit' of Bath.
Circa 1810. Sold by Kembery Antique Clocks, Bristol.
BATH3: A very typical mahogany stick
barometer, 96cms, with line inlay and veneer laid in chevron pattern, signed D Ortelli, Bath. Signature engraved
in nice, flowing script. Auctioned in September 2013 by Auktionshaus Plückbaum GmbH of Bonn, Germany.
|D Ortelli, stick barometer
|Courtesy of Amersham Auctions
Amersham Auctions sold this attractive Sheraton in 2013.
Signed D. Ortelli, Bristol, mahogany veneer, typical flower inlays, 33ins high
CARL1 Mahogany Veneer Inlaid Stick Barometer, signed N. Ortelly
& Co. Carlisle. Auctioned by Skinners, Boston. Mass. Sale 2365 Lot 229.
A typical mahogany Sheraton, 101 cms tall, signed Ortelli
& Co Carlisle. The thermometer plate isn't engraved beyond the expected indications, but the main dail has one of
those sweet little sprig motifs seen on a group of Ortelli barometers. Auctioned 29 Mar 2014 by Lyon & Turnbull, Edinburgh
|MARL1. D Ortelli Marlborough
|Courtesy Andrew smithcatalogues.co.uk
Another D. Ortelli, this time a stick barometer, and with ‘Marlborough, Warranted’, also engraved on the register
plate. Glazed hinged door, simple turned cistern cover, vernier. Mahogany case edged with stringing and decorated with line
inlay, exposed tube, veneers laid in chevron pattern. No brass finial, unless it is missing. Datable to 1805-1815. ,
auctioned by Andrew Smith 08 June 2010, lot 0719
A Sheraton type by D Ortelli, Marlborough, was sold on Ebay on 30 June 2008, by someone with a limited understanding
of barometers This was the text used, complete with upper-case as per original.: .A FANTASTIC ANTIQUE D. ORTELLI OF MARLBOROUGH
BAROMETER AND THERMOMETER.THIS IS A VERY NICE EXAMPLE OF ORTELLI'S WORK.I LOOKED HIM UP AND HE MADE THESE FROM THE LATE
1700'S TO THE MID 1800'S.THE CASE IS 40" LONG AND 10 1/4" WIDE AT THE WIDEST POINT.IT HAS BEAUTIFUL STAR
AND SHELL INLAY THAT GIVES IT A NAUTICAL MOTIF.THE THERMOMETER STILL WORKS AND IS MARKED FREEZING,TEMPERATE,SUM HEAT,AND BLOOD
HEAT.THE BAROMETER DOES NOT WORK .
|Courtesy of Gildings Auction House
|Courtesy of Gildings Auction House
|Courtesy of Gildings Auction House
One of the really fine
Ortellis was sold on18 February 2014 by Gildings Auctions, Market Harborough. The swan-pediment case is in flame mahogany,
and very beautifully outlined - the inlay doesn't show up well in the images.. It's a four glass dating from around
the 1820s, but, most unusually, the hygrometer is fitted below rather than above the thermometer. Central dial engraving is
small but very detailed, while the register plate of the thermometer has the most delicate floral engraving cradling
the bulb and also sprouting above the top of the thermeter tube. The catalogue lists it as A Ortelly, Preston, but looking
at the \ stroke of the initial makes me think that the initial should perhaps be N. Hard to tell because the rest of
the initial is too faint to make out and the image was taken at a slight angle. We will wait for this instrument to turn up
on a dealer's website.
BIR1: George III stick barometer by Ortelli, Birmingham, with silvered register plate, hygrometer
and thermometer. Lot 48, sold 2006 by W & H Peacock.
|BIR2 signed A Ortelli, Birmingham
|Photo courtesy of James D. Julia Auctioneers, Fairfield, Maine www.jamesdjulia.com
BIR2: Sheraton mahogany banjo barometer
auctioned in Fairfield, Maine, USA, by James D Julia in 2007 (Ref Samoset07]. The dial is signed A. Ortelli & Co
Birmingham, and the case measures 38.5ins. The barometer came from a mansion on Long Island, New York.
EXE1: Stick barometer,broken pediment, thumb-nail edge mouldings to the trunk and turned cistern
cover, hinged door to the silvered register plate with sliding vernier scale and alcohol thermometer. Signed Maggi & Ortelli/EXETER/Warranted,
visible mercury tube and bulb cistern -- 39¼in. (99cm.) high. Circa 1820. Auctioned 16 Dec 2994 Christies London.
Unfortunately, Christies' images are with the Bridgeman Library who charge for reproduction, so the best I can offer is
The ‘Maggi’ may well have been M. Maggi; HoHo Bird clocks and barometers have an M Maggi Sheraton from
These are the Ortellis from this period that have a name but no town engraved on them. This is not unusual,
and the usual explanation is that these were sold by pedlars going from place to place. However, it's possible
that in some cases there is a town or address but the source text does not mention it, and there is either no
image or only a low-res image to examine. Most are Sheratons, putting them in the 1815-1825 time-slot. So if gaps
appear in the numbering sequence it will be because information has turned up that lets me rehome them into other categories.
Sheraton, signed Ortelli & Co., 3ft 3ins high. Sold by Gorringes. From the poor image it looks to have a fairly short
shoulder beneath the broken pediment, and it is not possible to determine if there are the expected flower paterae. Image
MISC3: A really handsome,
rope edge, mahogany Sheraton with shell and flower inlay signed Ortelli and Co, Warranted. Stuck on the back are two
old labels, one from Harwich and another from Manningtree, which suggest it was either resold or repaired in
its lifetime. The barometer was sold by It’s About Time, Westcliff-on-Sea. Try this link to see detail of
the beautiful stringing. It is surprising to find a barometer as pretty as this one without a town to its name.
|Courtesy of It's About Time, Westcliff.
|Courtesy of It's About Time, Westcliff.
|Courtesy of It's About Time, Westcliff.
|Courtesy of It's About Time, Westcliff.
|Courtesy of It's About Time, Westcliff.
The Mallett label probably refers to Henry Mallet, born in Woodbridge, Suffolk, circa 1813,
who, according to the 1851 census, was was a silversmith at 10 Kings Quay Street, Harwich, living with his wife and an
apprentice. But by the 1861 census he and his wife had moved to Southwark, London, and he was employed as an clerk in
the Small Arms department of the Tower. The label logically dates from before 1861.
The second label, A. Downing,
refers to Arthur Downing, born 1840 in Manningtree and brought up at 65 South Hill in the town. The 1871 census
records him at 20 High Street East, but his occupation is 'N.S.' (not stated). This may well be because he was in
financial difficulties and had gone or was going into into voluntary liquidation... The London Gazette
of 13 September 1872 records:
The Bankruptcy Act, 1869.
In the County Court of Essex, holden at Colchester. In the Matter of Proceedings for Liquidation by Arrangement
or Composition with Creditors, instituted by Arthur Downing, of Manningtree, in the county of Essex, Watchmaker and Jeweller. The creditors of the above-named Arthur Downing who have not already proved
their debts, are required,on or before the 20th day of September, 1872, to send their names and addresses, and the particulars
of their debts or claims, to me, the undersigned, George Pje, of No. 3, Bank-buildings, Colchester, the Trustee under the
liquidation, or in default thereof they will be excluded from the benefit of the Dividend proposed to be declared.—Dated
this 9th day of September, 1872.
PYE, Trustee. The 1881 census records him at 41 High
Street, Manningtree, and confirms him as a watch maker. In 1891 his workplace/residence had moved to 17 High Street,
and in 1901, the last year he is recorded in the censuses, he had moved to 129 South Road, Manningtree.
we know to within a couple of decades when the Ortelli came to him.
MISC4: Ortelli & Co Warranted, Sheraton,
auctioned by Carlsen Gallery, near New York, Jan 16, 2011. Probably a fairly early Sheraton. Interestingly, instead of the
typical shell inlays flanking the thermometer case it has lenticular versions of the stylised floral paterae at the top and
bottom of the case
MISC5: N. Ortelli & Co. 8" dial Sheraton
style but, unusually, in walnut, with shell and star inlays. Broken arch top. Height 38". Ex: Haskell/Jones . Auctioned
by Eldred’s in the USA in 2004.
MISC6: Standard Sheraton mahogany barometer engraved
on the dial by P. Ortelli; Warranted, 38 x 10 in., auctioned 03/10/ 2007 by Stair Galleries in the USA Shells and floral paterae.
Looks to be circa 1820. Pale stringing, very plain engraving,. Image requested
|MISC7: Sheraton signed N Ortelli & Co
|By Courtesy of Bonhams Auctioneers
MISC7: Sheraton mahogany wheel barometer engraved N Ortelli & Co, Warranted ,Brass bezel and
bevelled glass, with alcohol thermometer above, mounted on a mahogany case with moulded pediment centred by a turned finial
and inlaid with marquetry flowers and conch motifs, outlined with boxwood stringing, wide 25cm, deep 5cm, high 97.5cm. The
central round motif is unusual but simple, and beneath ‘Change’ is an upright leaf motif. Auctioned by Bonhams,
Lot 120, 31 January 2013
|Courtesy of www.bathantiquesonline.com
MISC8: Ortelli & Co
flame mahogany barometer with broken pediment,line inlay and brass finial. and Sold April 2005 by Bath Antiques Online . Something
is engraved in the lower half of the dial, but the image resolution is insufficient to show it. If you bought or sold this
barometer, please get in touch so it can be relocated to the correct section or given its own.
MISC9: Millers Price Guide online features a a neat Sheraton signed D. Ortelli, Warranted, 38"
high. It has the usual conch shell inlay, with circular rosettes top and bottom. It is very hard to determine if the case
is edged with stringing. The dial has a small star at the centre. Alcohol thermometer.
|MISC10: N Ortelli Fecit Sheraton
|By courtesy of Bonhams
A mahogany Sheraton, strung with boxwood, with conch shells and flower paterae - flowers have slighly pointy petals.
Signed N. Ortelli above the centre and Fecit below, but definitely no town engraved. Dial is very simply engraved
with a little central circular design. Auctioned 5 July 2006 Lot No 279 by Bonhams, Norwich.
|Misc 11 Stick Ortelli
|Note the chequered inlay of cistern cover
A mahogany stick, signed on
the register plate "Ortelli Fecit". A very typical stick of its time, except that the cistern cover is inlaid with
two concentric chequered circles . The image isn't good enough to read the register plate to see whether any town
was also engraved so the information comes from the description given by Deburaux Associes of Paris who auctioned it on 15/12/2012.
Tube was intact, but empty; alcohol thermometer.
|J Ortelli Fecit
|courtesy of Nimbus Antiques
|J Ortelli Fecit
|courtesy of Nimbus Antiques
A stick barometer, with attractive rope stringing
that is almost identical to that on Macc21, but even more interestingly signed J Ortelli & Co Fecit, and, like the other
Ortelli sticks, dating to circa 1810-15. Currently on sale at Nimbus Antiques, Whaley Bridge. It has a Macclesfield provenance,
but I don't know how far back that provenance extends.
A standard Sheraton, in the USA, signed
Ortelli & CO above the spindle, with FECIT engraved below the spindle. Definitely no town. For sale on Ebay in Oct/Nov
2014. Images requested from vendor.
Charles Ortelli of Ireland
In 1861, one Francis Ortella was married at St George In The East to Ellen Barratt.
the name and profession of his father was stated to be Charles Ortella, Optician, and Francis's place of birth was Ireland.
He was 24 when he married, giving him a likely year of birth of 1837. Francis became a looking glass silverer and carver
and ended his days in 1909 in the Workhouse. If his father was an optician, in Ireland, there is a good chance he was to some
extent involved with barometers, and if he had a son in 1837-ish, the likelihood is that he was born sometime in the first
two decades of the 19th century. But that is as far as I have managed to get, and no barometers signed by C Ortelli,
anywhere in Ireland, have come to light. What is very obvious is that this Charles cannot be the Ortelli who died
in London in 1814, a good twenty years before Francis Ortelli's birth in Ireland.
With few barometers carrying the word 'fecit'
(though that is true of the instruments from many makers) there is no knowing how much of each barometer was made by the hand
of the Ortelli whose name is engraved on it, or whether, between them, the London Ortellis could provided all the requisite
expertise. That Peter (1), Charles and Francis Ortelli died in London is documented. The fate of Joseph is not yet known.
Antonio is well documented, and his story continues. Of D, N. and, if he ever existed, an early John, there's no
evidence beyond the barometers. Probably they all went back to Italy. However, the D is likely to stand for Domenico,
and there was a Domenico who was the father of Antonio. But there's not a shred of proof that this Domenico ever touched
a barometer - on the other hand, he was alive at exactly the right time to have come to England. N is probably going
to be Niccolo - male names that begin with D and N are not among the more common in Italy, and the inhabitants of the
villages around Como were, to say the least conservative when it came to naming their children. That said, so were the English
at this time. We can say of N and D that, to judge by the barometers, they were probably working in England
in the period around 1810-1820, and assuming they and Joseph went home to Como they must have died before the state records
start in 1866. And the possibility exists that some of the barometers they made were created in Rovenna and taken to Britain
to be sold.
My personal opinion, for what it's worth, is that the Ortellis came over sufficiently
early to have been skilled migrants and therefore makers to some extent and that they may well have had a significant
if short relationship with Gabalio. However, the evidence of MACC4 and the National Trust's Tagliabue
barometer at Stourhead (see MACC4) also suggests a very strong association with Tagliabue and Torre or
at the very least that they did business with the same case maker. The fact that Antonio was married to a Della
Torre is not going to be insignificant.
They lived and worked in in Holborn, with addresses
in Cross Street and Leather Lane. Banfield lists 94 Holborn, too, for this early period. The barometers were made
in London and some were retailed in Buckingham either through Anthony or Peter. The large group of Macclesfield barometers
remain to be explained.
In terms of quality, the barometers span quite a range. The sticks
conform to a very traditional type: cistern tube, with generally plain cistern covers, exposed tubes, broken pediments,
and glazed doors. The use of herringbone veneer and other decoration turns them into handsome instruments, with good
engraving. The majority of wheel barometers were of the Sheraton type, some of lesser quality than others, doubtless
reflecting the natural commercial imperative to meet and profit from the growing demand for affordable domestic
instruments. Among the other wheel barometers a number stand out as individual and of very high quality. Some of these non-sheratons
have cases in the style of Anone and Tagliabue, which would place them in the first decade of the 19th century.
was suggested that the Ortellis must have been the most prolific of the barometer makers, and sometimes it seems it because
nobody else seems to have researched and catalogued the extant barometers of any other maker. Obviously nobody is quite as
mad (or, as our Italian friends would say: pazza) as me. But then I did a search on Invaluable.com of auctioned
barometers. Recorded Ortellis: 65; recorded Tagliabue barometers:248.
It is not really possible to look at a barometer
and, without looking at the signature, say 'That is clearly an Ortelli'. Barometer makers were not the same as painters
who have techniques and styles that make them easily recognisable. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say it is
hard to recognise the work of individual makers after, say, the third quarter of the 18th century. However, what unites
more than a few of the Ortelli instruments is the use of foliate engraving, and this is sometimes carried into the thermometer
register plate and, occasionally, into the other dials . Put it this way, if you find a barometer with charming
floral engraving, elaborate or simple, then you won't be surprised to also find the Ortelli name.
Go to: The later Ortellis and the London Colony, and more
Go back to The Elusive Ortellis of Macclesfield
Go back to: barometers -history, working and styles
Go back to Antique Barometers: Introduction
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