Nicholas Vallin (circa 1565-1603) was the second son of John Vallin, a Flemish clockmaker from Ruyssell (now Lille). Nicholas first worked with his father and is believed to have set up on his own in 1593 in St Annes, Blackfriars, London. He died of the plague on 17 September 1603.
Domestic clocks were few and far between until the end of the 16th Century. Notwithstanding the alterations which have taken place, the present clock is therefore an extremely rare survival.
The earliest recorded English clocks were mainly made by Huguenot emigrants from Flanders and all existing examples date from post 1575. Perhaps fifteen or sixteen pre-pendulum English spring clocks are known to survive in whole or in part. A number of these were made by Nicholas Vallin. The earliest known English clock with a carillon (dated 1598) is also by Vallin. Formerly in the Ilbert Collection it is now in the British Museum.
A square table clock by Vallin of closely related design to the present clock is exhibited in the Museum of International Horology, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland and is illustrated by Dawson, Drover and Parkes (Early English Clocks, Woodbridge, 1982, p. 25, pls. 16-18) and also Alan Lloyd (The Collector's Dictionary of Clocks, New Jersey 1964, p.182, fig. 463). A further closely related clock, from the Portland Collection, is exhibited in the Harley Gallery, Welbeck, Nottinghamshire. Both these examples have the bell and pierced bell cover missing on the present clock.
There are numerous similarities between the Portland, La Chaux-de-Fonds and Cummer clocks. All have related engraving to the sides, including geometric bands above arcaded courtyard scenes, although there are slight variations in their design. The upper case sections all have engraved fan spandrels and similar engraving to the dial centres. The chapter ring of the Portland clock is similarly engraved with Roman chapters and flower head half hour markers and it too has an inner twenty four hour ring. The La Chaux-de-Fonds Vallin is recorded as having a later dial. However, it would appear from the other two examples, that only the chapter ring may have been changed. The base plates to all the clocks have square and circular line engraved borders and all are signed within similar engraved shield cartouches, as does a Vallin clock currently on private loan to the British Museum. A very similarly engraved dial centre may be seen on a watch by Gylles van Ghele dated 1589 (see David Thompson, Watches, British Museum Press, London 2008, p. 21). See also the dial centre and chapter ring on an unsigned spring clock, probably by Vallin, in the the British Museum (Dawson, Drover and Parkes, Early English Clocks, Woodbridge, 1982, p. 31, pl. 28).
The following spring clocks by Vallin are known:
Small drum clock with astronomical indications, The Science Museum, London
Small drum clock (later case) with astronomical indications, formerly exhibited in The Time Museum, Rockford Illinois, now in a private collection
Small drum timepiece, The Banff Museum, Banff, Aberdeenshire
Small drum striking clock with alarm, illustrated Dawson, Drover & Parkes, Early English Clocks, Woodbridge, 1982, current location unknown
Vertical table clock case dated 1600 (later dial and movement), The British Museum, London
Vertical table clock case (movement by Bartholomew Newsam), The British Museum, London
Horizontal table clock, The Museum of Horology, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
Horizontal table clock, The Portland Collection, Harley Gallery, Welbeck, Nottinghamshire
Monstrance clock, formerly a drum table clock, on loan to The British Museum, London, private collection
The present clock, formerly exhibited in The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, Jacksonville, Florida
The Cummer Museum
The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, built on the site of the home of Arthur and Ninah Cummer, opened in November 1961. From Ninah Cummer's relatively small collection of sixty pieces that launched the museum, The Cummer's permanent collection has grown to over five and a half thousand works of art encompassing eight thousand years of art history. The present lot is being sold to benefit the museum's acquisitions fund.