George Graham No. 734

A George II burr walnut eight-day longcase clock with original numbered winding key.  Circa 1735/40
No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VA… Read more THE BUCCLEUCH GRAHAM This magnificent seat stands on a knoll in view of the confluence, at about half a mile distant of the rivers North Esk and South Esk, each of which gives a title to a Nobleman in Scotland. In ancient times there was a castle in its place, the residence of the Morton family. The park of about 800 acres has mainly oak trees and is surrounded by an estate wall. The estate has been held by the Dukes of Buccleuch since the year 1642. James, Duke of Monmouth was the illegitimate son of Charles II, by Lucy, daughter of Richard Walters Esq of Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire. Monmouth married Anne, Countess of Buccleuch in 1683. They assumed the family name of Scott and were created The Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch, Earl and Countess of Dalkeith and Baron and Baroness of Whitchester and Eskdale. Their son, James Scott, Earl of Dalkeith, married Henrietta, second daughter of Laurence Hyde, Earl of Rochester. Their son, Francis Scott, second Duke of Buccleuch obtained the restoration of the Earldom of Doncaster and Barony of Scott of Tyndale (held by his grandfather the Duke of Monmouth) and married Lady Jane Douglas, eldest daughter of James, second Duke of Queensberry . The second Duke died on 22 April, 1751 and was succeeded by his grandson Henry Scott, 3rd Duke of Buccleuch. Not withstanding the possibility that the present clock could have been inherited by marriage, it seems likely that it was originally bought for Dalkeith by Henry Scott, 3rd Duke of Buccleuch.
George Graham No. 734 A George II burr walnut eight-day longcase clock with original numbered winding key. Circa 1735/40

George Graham No. 734

A George II burr walnut eight-day longcase clock with original numbered winding key. Circa 1735/40
The case with boxwood and ebony line-inlaid panel to the front and sides of the plinth with double footed skirt, concave moulding beneath the rectangular trunk door twice punch-numbered 734 to the top of the leading edge and again on the interior face of the door above the substantial chamfered brass hinges, the hood with brass-capped three-quarter columns supporting the frieze with original pierced walnut frets, similar original pierced walnut frets to the sides, the moulded caddy top now lacking finial (see notes), the 12½ in. square brass dial signed Geo: Graham London at the base beneath the silvered Roman and Arabic chapter ring with pierced and chamfered blued steel hour and minute hands, the matted centre with large diameter subsidiary seconds ring and calendar aperture with pin-hole adjustment, Indian mask-and-foliate double-screwed spandrels, bolt-and-shutter maintaining power lever by chapters II and III, latches to the dial feet and also to the five substantial pillars of the movement with thick brass rectangular plates, the going train with original deadbeat escapement, original rectangular-section brass rod pendulum with large brass-cased lead lenticular bob terminating with a brass nib-piece with the original calibrated rating nut, the strike train with racks planted on the front plate and strike on the original bell, the movement backplate punch-numbered 734 at the base in the centre, right angle brass securing bracket fixing to a brass T-bar screwed to the top of the backboard; with the original winding key punch-numbered 734 with rectangular-section shaft and ebony handle, together with correspondence dated January to April 1944 to and from J.C. Hirst (the buyer) and P.J. Ormiston (the Secretary to the Duke of Buccleuch, Dalkeith Palace)
7 ft. 10 in. (238 cm.) high
Probably originally bought by the Buccleuch family, thence by descent to the 11th Duke of Buccleuch and Queensbury (born 1923).
Sold, circa 1943 to J.C. Hirst Esq.
Sold Sotheby's London, 1 October, 1998, lot 468, to the present owner.
R.W. Symonds, English Dial Design, Country Life, 14 February, 1947, J.C. Hurst Collection
R.W. Symonds, The Genius of George Graham, Country Life Annual, 1951, figs 2 & 3
H. Alan Lloyd, Old Clocks, 4th. ed. 1970, pls. 26b & 39d
H. Alan Lloyd, George Graham, Horologist and Astronomer, Horological Journal, November 1951, p. 709
H. Alan Lloyd, The Collectors' Dictionary of Clocks, 1964, fig. 254
Special notice
No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 17.5% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis

Lot Essay

Graham's longcase clocks have their own entirely individual character. Only the best clockmakers created a style that developed into one that was uniquely their own and produce clocks that were instantly recognisable. This ability that Graham had, and that other makers like Tompion and Knibb shared, separated their clocks from other clocks that were being made by their contemporaries.

Graham used top quality walnut veneer which has a long-lasting deep colour with close-grained figuring. His mouldings are bold, his plinths fashionably double-footed and beautifully proportioned to balance the dimensions of the hood. The present lot is extremely rare in that it has so many wonderful original features. The hood, for example, retains the original sound frets which stand even the closest examinations, it is impossible today to reproduce the flair and touch of such delicate work. The caddy top is also original but now lacking the finial which is referred to in letters from J.C. Hirst Esq to the Duke's secretary.

Pendulums from this period are often overlooked unless they happen to be of a particularly innovative design. Graham's pendulums were very well made and like his cases and movements his pendulums are also instantly recognisable. The present pendulum is a classic example of the type that he used on his domestic longcase clocks. The brass rod is of rectangular section, the bob is extremely thick and heavy and constructed in the normal manner of lead within a brass jacket. The bob terminates with a finely calibrated nut with a brass nib-piece against which the nut may be adjusted.

Original or even contemporary winding keys are becoming increasingly more difficult to find. Thomas Tompion probably began numbering his keys when he started his numbering system, thought to have begun circa 1685. No other clockmakers from this period had such a complete numbering system for their clocks. Taking the number of Tompion's clocks known to exist today it is thought that less than 3 retain their original keys and a similar percentage of Graham's keys have also survived. The keys seem to have all been punch-numbered on the brass square that joins the steel shaft. It is perhaps surprising that they did not also punch-number their pendulums and weights.

We are grateful to Jeremy Evans Esq for his kind assistance with this catalogue entry.


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