R.C.R. Barder, The Georgian Bracket Clock 1714-1830, Woodbridge, 1999, pp.158-169
A.W.J.G. Ord-Hume, The Musical Clock, Mayfield, 1995
D. Roberts, Mystery, Novelty and Fantasy Clocks, Atglen,1999
Markwick Markham (recorded 'Behind the Royal Exchange', London) flourished 1725-1805 and specialised in making both musical and ordinary clocks for the Ottoman market and for Russia also. Robert Markham was son in law and partner to James Markwick (d.1730) and sold clocks under both his own name and that of Markwick Markham. He also formed associations with other makers such as Henry Borrell and Francis Perigal, generally for the export market. The 'Turkish' or 'Ottoman' market was a lucrative one and embraced most countries of the Near East, extending to Persia.
A tortoiseshell musical clock by Markwick Markham is in the Seraglio Palace, Istanbul (Ord-Hume, p.309). Fine examples of ormolu-mounted tortoiseshell musical table clocks by Markwick Markham can be seen in Barder (p.163) and Ord-Hume (p.25). Those two clocks have cases of related design to the present clocks and were made respectively for the Ottoman and European markets. One of the finest Ottoman market clocks sold in recent years was a miniature gold-mounted bloodstone musical and automaton table clock by Markwick, Markham & Perigal sold Christie's London, Important Clocks, 7 December 2005, lot 120.
Richly-embellished tortoiseshell clock cases of this design were made for other clockmakers also. Ord-Hume (p.25) shows an almost identical case, albeit without the ormolu base banding of the present examples, which houses a musical movement by Nathaniel Barnes of London. Another, by James Drury, also for the Ottoman market but with less elaborate feet, was sold Christie's London, Important Clocks, 7 December 2005, lot 121. A European market clock by Markwick Markham of almost identical case design, but with foliate scroll angles, was sold Christie's New York, Fine Watches, Wristwatches and Clocks, 28 october 1989.
The present clocks differ from the aforementioned examples in having elaborately painted dials. Similar decoration may be seen on a tortoiseshell clock by Markwick, Markham & Perigal illustrated by Barder (p.170).
To find pairs of 18th Century clocks still together is extremely rare. Indeed, it is unlikely that many such pairs were made, although it is known that clocks for the Imperial Chinese market were produced in pairs to suit local taste. A pair of japanned musical table clocks, reputedly made for the king of Nepal, by Charles Cabrier were sold Sotheby's London, Important Clocks, Watches, Wristwatches and Barometers, 13 October 1988, lot 173 and are illustrated in Roberts (p.90). With the present clocks the painted dial decoration is mirrored, both in the subsidiary harbour and cottage scenes and also in the floral spandrels; although the differences are subtle they demonstrate quite clearly that the clocks were made to be displayed as a pair and not simply as two similar clocks. Such a pair of clocks, made to the highest case and clock-making standards of the period and with movements so small that they have to be removed through the undersides of the cases, would have been extremely expensive and would not have been made speculatively; almost certainly they would have been made as a special commission or gift for a very wealthy or important individual.