ARCHITECTURAL CLOCKS WITH EXOTIC VENEERS
The small and elegant proportions of the case of this clock are perhaps its most distinctive and appealing features. Standing just 68 inches high it is small even by the standards of the architectural period in English clockmaking and perhaps not surprisingly Dawson, Drover and Parkes (Early English Clocks, Woodbridge, 1982, p. 243) describe it as 'miniature'.
Although ebony and ebonised pearwood veneers are most commonly associated with early longcase clocks other exotic veneers were used, as on the present clock. Tom Robinson (The Longcase Clock, Woodbridge, 1985, p. 57, fig.) illustrates an East case of circa 1670 veneered in lignum vitae, (also shown in Dawson, Drover and Parkes, p. 240, pls. 321-322) and an earlier clock by Ahasuerus Fromanteel, from the Ilbert Collection, veneered in cocus wood, (Robinson, p. 39, fig.); the same clock is described as laburnum in Britten's (Old Clocks and Watches and their Makers, 7th edition, p. 100, pl. 59). See also a three-month going timepiece by Ahasuerus Fromanteel veneered in Princes wood, Dawson, Drover and Parkes, p. 497, plates 737-739. R.A. Lee (The Knibb Family Clockmakers, Byfleet, 1964, p. 13, pl. 3) shows one of only three clocks by Samuel Knibb, an architectural longcase with kingwood or cocus wood veneers. Walnut was also used on architectural clocks as may be seen on a hooded wall clock of circa 1670 by William Clement in the British Museum (Dawson, Drover and Parkes, p. 176, pl. 238) and a longcase by Hilkiah Bedford of circa 1670-73 (Dawson, Drover and Parkes, p. 319, pls. 320-321). See also a slightly later East architectural longcase of circa 1675 veneered in kingwood (Robinson, p. 60, fig.).
The geometric decoration on the case of the present East clock is unusual. Robinson describes an apparently similar design on the sides of the previously mentioned lignum vitae East -- 'The veneer is in small pieces those on the sides form a diamond design' (Robinson, p. 58). A detail illustration of this clock in Dawson, Drover and Parkes, p. 240, pl. 322, shows that the front veneers also formed in lozenge design. A diamond motif may be seen on the trunk door of a later provincial clock by Greenhill of Maidstone (Dawson, Drover and Parkes, p. 257, pl. 247).
The acanthus leaf capitals to the hood columns may be compared with examples on East architectural table clocks, see Dawson, Drover and Parkes, p. 156, pl. 203 and Horological Masterworks, Wadhurst, 2003, pp. 42-43. Similar capitals may be seen on architectural longcases by other makers of this period, 1665-70, such as Ahasuerus Fromanteel (Dawson, Drover and Parkes, p. 165, pl. 216); see also a hooded wall clock by East (p. 164, pl. 215).
The ormolu mount to the hood tympanum, although in our opinion a replacement, is made to a well known design of the period and may be seen on clocks by several of the best makers.
The 'eagle-head' trunk door escutcheon, although most readily associated with the Knibbs (see Lee, pp. 24-29 for examples), was likewise used by several makers, including Ahasuerus and John Fromanteel (see Dawson, Drover and Parkes, p. 169, pl. 227 and p. 170, pl. 228). It may be seen on an East architectural longcase exhibited in R.A. Lee The First Twelve Years of the English Pendulum Clock, 1969, No.7, plate 18.
DIAL AND MOVEMENT
The fine dial plate engraving of the present clock, filling the corners and extending off the edges of the plate, may be compared with that found on an East table clock movement sold Bonhams, London, 13 December 2011, lot 116 (£49,250). That example also has the matted centre and engraved central rosette seen on this clock.
The distinctive 'bottle-shaped' movement plates may also be seen on clocks by the Fromanteels, see The First Twelve Years of the English Pendulum Clock: No. 7 (pl. 28) - Ahasuerus; No.15 (pl. 45) - Johannes; and No. 33 (pl. 85) - Ahasuerus. The previously mentioned Ahasuerus Fromanteel longcase sold at Bonhams in 2009 likewise has 'bottle-shaped' plates.
COMPARATIVE CLOCKS AT AUCTION
This clock may be compared to an architectural ebonised pearwood longcase clock by East sold Christie's, London, 6 December 2006, lot 112, £355,200 and further to a silver-mounted example by Ahasuerus Fromanteel, sold Bonhams, London, 15 December 2009, lot 103, £400,800.
EDWARD EAST (1602-1696)
Formerly of the Goldsmiths' Company, apprenticed to Richard Rogers in 1618, made free in 1626, East was one of the ten original assistants when the Clockmakers' Company was incorporated in 1631. He was twice Master, in 1645 and 1653. He worked in Pall Mall in the 1620s, at 'The musical Clock, Fleet Street' in the 1640s and then later at 'The Sun, outside Temple Bar'. Of the eight known apprentices under his auspices between 1643 and 1676 probably Henry Jones was the most celebrated, and his early clocks show East's influence. From Southill in Bedfordsire, East was a Royalist and is thought to have made clocks and watches for Charles I before being granted office as Chief Clockmaker and Keeper of the Privy Clocks in 1660 under Charles II. This can be contrasted with his contemporary, Ahasuerus Fromanteel (1607-1693), a Parliamentarian with apparent support from Oliver Cromwell and who had a fractious relationship with the Clockmakers' Company. East left a considerable estate and in later life gave 100 to the Clockmakers' Company for the benefit of poor members.