THE PROPERTY OF AN IMPORTANT INTERNATIONAL COLLECTOR
The following eight lots, 163 to 170, pay tribute to the genius and inventive spirit of the celebrated Charles Frodsham, one of the leading manufacturers of high quality clocks, watches and chronometers in the 19th century and early 20th century. The timepieces offered here for sale represent an impressive selection of the majority of all the conceivable watchmaking complications of the period, including one of the earliest English flying tourbillons, a six minute tourbillon and a one minute tourbillon, all with Kew Observatory Certificates, as well as repeating, chronograph and chronometer watches.
Charles Frodsham (born 18 April 1810), was apprenticed for seven years to his father William Frodsham, an established London clockmaker, at the age of 14. At twenty, he distinguished himself by submitting one of his first marine chronometers to the Premium trials at Greenwich Observatory, receiving the second prize of 170. In 1834 he was made a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. Shortly after and doubtless encouraged by his recent successes, Charles ventured out on his own establishing his business in London, where he soon gained an enviable reputation for the manufacture of precision timekeepers; as a supplier of marine chronometers to the Admiralty, regulators to the world's observatories, and as a provider of fine watches to discerning clients worldwide. He later acquired the three prestigious businesses of J.R. Arnold, Vulliamy and William Johnson late of Grimalde & Johnson.
In 1854 Charles was granted the Royal Warrant and made Superintendent and Keeper of Her Majesty's clocks. For over 130 years Charles Frodsham & Co. were responsible for the maintenance of the Royal clocks and remained the last independent firm permitted to have workshops in Buckingham Palace.
Throughout the second half of the 19th century the firm participated at all the major international exhibitions, including, Paris, Philadelphia, Sydney and the Great Exhibition of 1851 at Crystal Palace, where a first class medal was received. In all, Frodshams obtained fourteen medals and diplomas.
From 1850 the majority of the finest Frodsham watches were distinguished with the code AD.Fmsz, a cryptogram for the year 1850. The code is formed by the numerical sequence of the letters in "Frodsham", with a "Z" for zero. Many of these pieces were sent to Kew Observatory for rigorous timing tests, attaining consistently high marks, most notably tourbillon watch no. 09182 holding the record for any English watch tested at the Kew Observatory, with a mark of 93.9, in 1906. This watch is now in the celebrated Lord Harris Collection, at Belmont, in Kent.
In 1893, Charles Frodsham & Co. became a limited company. With the advent of the motor car in the early part of the 20th century, the business expanded with the introduction of speedometers and car clocks. From the late 1940s until the 1980s, the firm concentrated on the manufacture of mantel and carriage clocks, producing amongst others the 'Princess' clock presented in 1947 to HRH Princess Elizabeth on the occasion of her marriage. Today Charles Frodsham & Co. proudly maintains the exacting standards and enthusiasm of its founder, Charles Frodsham.
A detailed account of the life and times of Charles Frodsham and the company can be found in The Frodshams, The Story of a Family of Clockmakers by Vaudrey Mercer, published by The Antiquarian Horological Society, 1981.
SIGNED CHAS. FRODSHAM, NO. 09181, AD.FMSZ, 84, STRAND, LONDON, STAMPED WITH LONDON DATE LETTER FOR 1906
Charles Frodsham. An 18K gold hunter case minute repeating keyless lever watch with box
Signed Chas. Frodsham, No. 09181, AD.Fmsz, 84, Strand, London, stamped with London date letter for 1906
Nicole Nielsen gilt-finished three quarter plate lever movement, bimetallic compensation balance with gold poising screws, minute repeating on two hammers onto two gongs, gold cuvette with engraved inscription Presented to Alfred Fynn Phillips Esq. by the Board of the Imperial Continental Gas Association in grateful recognition of 50 years valuable service rendered by him to the Association 25th July 1859 - 25th July 1909, white enamel dial, Roman numerals, subsidiary seconds, plain circular case, repeating slide in the band, raised push, five-knuckle hinges, turning pendant, case and cuvette stamped with casemaker's HMF for Harrison Mill Frodsham and numbered, dial and movement signed and numbered
54 mm. diam.