Derek Roberts writes of this clock that it 'must have been one of the finest skeleton clocks produced'. Quarter chiming skeleton clocks of this size and quality are relatively rare. For other other examples, see Christie's London, 6 December 2006, lot 32 and also 5 July 2006, lot 81. Both of those clocks were also attributed to Smith's of Clerkenwell. As with the present clock, their bases carried presentation plaques (dated 1863 and 1869 respectively).
Although particularly renowned for their skeleton clocks, Smith & Sons of Clerkenwell were one of the most important manufacturers of all types of clocks during the period 1850-1900. Indeed, the company was the subject of an article in The Illustrated London News of 20 September 1851 (reproduced in Roberts, op.cit., pp.260-267), in which it was held up as being at the forefront of contemporary clock manufacture.
Smith's catalogue of 1865 gives an idea of the extensive range of skeleton clocks the company produced. A scroll pattern skeleton clock is listed at £2.10s. However, a clock such as the present example would have cost ten times as much: 'Chime Skeleton Clocks, quarter-hours on 8 bells & hours on gong, £25 upwards' (Roberts, p.127). Such clocks were amongst the finest the company produced.