FINE DETAIL FOR LUXURY MARKETS
This palatial Ottoman market clock model by one of the principal exponents of the genre, Henry Borrell, with its prominent positioning of the tune selection dial has apparently not been previously recorded. There are however many familiar features; the openwork serpentine mounts to the angles are a feature found in export clocks by Borrell; the most celebrated being the ormolu and enamel musical and automaton table clock which established a world auction record for an English clock when sold Christie's, Hong Kong, Magnificent Clocks for the Chinese Imperial Court from the Nezu Museum, 27 May 2008, lot 1511 (HK$36,167,500, £2,355,000), also a smaller ormolu clock in the same sale, lot 1515 ; furtherexamples may be seen in the Palace Museum Collection, Beijing (Yangzhen p.100). A similar blue enamel silvered arched dial plate with white enamel dial signed by William Story features in a Guangzhou made ormolu automaton clock of the Qianlong period (1736-1795) also in the Palace Museum Collection (Yangzhen p.51). The same basic case outline conforms to a pair of ormolu mounted tortoiseshell veneered clocks signed Markwick Markham sold Christie's, London, 1 July 2008, lot 41, (181,250); and two tortoiseshell veneered organ clocks signed Markwick Markham Borrell have also been recorded and are an evolution of the current model (sold Christie's, London, 15 September 2004, lot 9 (£65,725) and Christie's, London, 7 December 2005, lot 45 (£50,400).
THE OTTOMAN MARKET
The earliest recorded attempt at trade with this lucrative market was by Sir John Finch, British ambassador to Turkey. He presented an English Clock to The Grand Vizier in 1680; it was refused as the Grand Vizier was expecting a large sum of money. The Ottoman market peaked for the English Clockmaker in the second half of the 18th century.
Henry Borrell was a London clock and watchmaker whose address is recorded at 8 Aldersgate Buildings in 1795 and at 15 Wilderness Row 1795-1840. He was one of a number of English clockmakers towards the end of the 18th century whose work was strongly connected to the Export market of both the Near and Far East. His son Henry Perigal Borrell (1795-1851) worked in Turkey as agent for his father and was well connected there through his wife Emily Boddington whose grandfather had been British Chancellor.
The Markwick and Markham names appear on clocks and watches from the mid-17th to the early 19th centuries. The earliest clockmaker appears to be James Markwick (born about 1640) who was made free of the Clockmakers Company in 1666. His son James took over his father's business in 1696, was Master of the Clockmakers Company in 1720 and formed a partnership with Robert Markham shortly afterwards, it was short-lived as James junior died in 1730. James junior's daughter Catherine married Robert Markham in about 1729. There are no contemporary directoryrecords of the firm after Markham junior died in 1741. It is after this date that we see many other names written on the dials of clocks and watches in conjunction with Markwick Markham such as with the present clock. As well as Henry Borrell, others such as Louis Recordon, Dupont, Francis Perigal, William Story, Isaac Rogers, Peter Upjohn, Spencer & Perkins, William Kipling and John Johnson all appear. Both Ian White and Kurz cite Felix de Beaujour (A View of the Commerce of Greece, date unknown) writing of the trade with Turkey 'Markwick Markham are fictitious names. It is an old extinct clock manufactory whose name some London makers borrowed lest the Turks should be startled by new names'.
Eric Bruton notes the similarity of movements of musical clocks of the late 18th century for the Ottoman market and suggests Thwaites and Reed of Clerkenwell as the supplier, despite the different makers' names on the dials. This is confirmed by the Day-books of the firm in the London Guildhall Library (Ms. 6788). From the 1780's both movements and complete clocks were supplied by Thwaites and Reed often fully decorated for the 'Turky Market'.
Ian White English Clocks for the Eastern Markets, Ticehurst, 2012, pp. 344-6.
Lu Yangzhen (chief editor) Timepieces Collected by the Qing Emperors in the Palace Museum,
Hong Kong, 1995.
Richard C.R. Barder The Georgian bracket Clock 1714-1830, Woodbridge, 1993, pp. 154-172.
Percy G. Dawson 'Repatriated English Clocks' Antiquarian Horology, Vol. 13, No. 5, September 1982, pp. 434-7.
O. Kurz European Clocks and Watches in the Near East, London, 1975, pp. 77-88.