1 July 2008
A William III gilt-brass mounted ebonised striking eight day table clock with pull quarter repeat
John Clowes, London. Circa 1700
The case with brass handle to repoussé brass basket top, urn finials to all angles, silk-backed later frets above rectangular glazed side panels, the front door with later applied gilt-brass mounts, raised on later block feet, the 7 in. wide brass dial with winged cherub spandrels to silvered Roman and Arabic chapter ring with sword hilt half hour and half quarter hour markers, ringed winding holes, mock pendulum and date square to finely matted and engraved centre, exhibition label pasted to the back of the dial and inscribed BRITISH CLOCKMAKER'S/HERITAGE EXHIBITION/CAT NO:-/132/SCIENCE MUSEUM/LONDON. 1952., blued steel hands, the movement with six ring-turned pillars, twin gut fusees, replaced verge escapement, pull quarter repeat on five bells and hour striking via internal rack on further bell, the case restored; two case keys
14½ in. (37 cm.) high, handle down
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Illustrated, P.G. Dawson, C.B. Drover & D.W. Parkes, Early English Clocks, Woodbridge, 1982, pp.401-406, plates 570-576
British Clockmakers' Heritage Exhibition, Science Museum, London, 1952, catalogue no.132
John Clowes was born in 1651 and made a Freeman of the Clockmakers' Company January 1672/73, known as a great (turret) clockmaker. He became Assistant Warden in 1708 and was due to serve as Warden in 1713 but was unable. He never returned to the Court and it is believed he died in 1713/14. Amongst his apprentices were his son, John, and Francis Gregg.
The movement of the present clock is well illustrated and discussed in Dawson, Drover and Parkes (pp.401-406, plates 570-576). The movement is said to be made to an early design and is compared to work by Henry Jones, Thomas Taylor and Nathanial Hodges. The under dial work is quite heavy and unrefined and the quarter repeat hammers are separately pivoted with individual springs, features normally associated with earlier work. Some of the clock's most pleasing qualities are the fine symmetrical engraving to the back plate and the use of a large pierced and engraved apron which carries the signature. Dawson, Drover and Parkes note that the case was damaged ('smashed') by a bomb during the war, although the extent of this damage is not discussed and clearly it has subsequently been fully restored.
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