Born in 1602, East was one of the greatest English clockmakers of the 17th Century. One of the first Assistants in the Clockmakers' Company after its formation in 1631, he was Master of the Company in 1645 and again in 1653. Upon the restoration of Charles II to the throne in 1660 East was appointed clockmaker to the King. A Royalist and most likely a Catholic also, he must have been a very different character to his closest business rivals, Ahasuerus and John Fromanteel, Anabaptists with Parliamentarian leanings. East lived until 1697 and clearly prospered, giving £100 to the Clockmakers' Company for the benefit of poorer members shortly before he died.
THE PRESENT CLOCK:
This clock is a remarkably intact survival of early English clockmaking by one of the most important makers of the 17th Century and displays a number of noteworthy features.
The exquisite dial engraving, in a style fashionable for the period, can be seen on other examples by East. See Edwardes (pl.137) and the British Clockmaker's Makers Heritage Exhibition catalogue (p.X) for architectural longcases of closely related design and with similar dial engraving. Symonds (Masterpieces, fig.109) and Britten's (p.99) show East wall clocks with similar engraving and Cescinsky (p.32) shows a longcase dial. Other makers also used pear engraving. See for example the Joseph Knibb night timepiece illustrated in Dawson, Drover & Parkes (pp.516-517).
The projecting backboard on the present clock, although unusual, is by no means unknown. Lee (The First Twelve Years, pl.20) shows a longcase by Ahasuerus Fromanteel which shows this feature. It can be seen again on an unsigned longcase, attributed to Fromanteel and closely resembling the Lee example, sold Christie's London, Clocks and Watches, 12 December 1988, lot 166.
The hood mount on this East longcase is unusual and distinctive and we are not aware of a comparable example on another clock. The symbolism may point to a client with an interest in hunting. The decorative focus remains resolutely on this area (notwithstanding the now absent finials). The hood columns are unadorned. In this they may be compared with other East longcases at Belmont House in Kent and in the Terry Collection in Fairfax House York. These examples have spiral-twist columns.
Dawson, Drover & Parkes, Early English Clocks, Antique Collectors' Club 1982, pp.164-172, p.193; Ernest L. Edwardes, The Grandfather Clock, Sherratt & Son 1974, pls.137-139; RW Symonds, A Book of English Clocks, King Penguin 1947, p.22, pp.24-26; Exhibition Catalogue, Horological Masterworks, The Antiquarian Horological Society 2003, pp.38-39 & pp.42-43; Baillie, Clutton & Ilbert, Britten's Old Clocks and Watches and Their Makers, Seventh Edition, E & FN Spon, 1956, pp.99-100; Herbert Cescinsky, The Old English Master Clockmakers and their Clocks 1670-1820, Routledge & Sons, 1938, p.24 & pp.47-52; Derek Roberts, British Longcase Clocks, Schiffer 1990, pp.24-25.; Tom Robinson, The Longcase Clock, Antique Collectors' Club 1981, p.34; Ronald A Lee, The First Twelve Years of the English Pendulum Clock, Exhibition Catalogue 1969, pls.4-7, 17-20, 25-30, 42-43, 67-68, 75; RW Symonds, Masterpieces of English Furniture and Clocks, Batsford 1940, p.149; Ronald A Lee, The Knibb Family Clockmakers, Manor House Press 1963, pp.24-25; Percy G. Dawson, The Iden Clock Collection, Antique Collectors' Club 1987, pp.19-40; Science Museum, British Clockmaker's Heritage Exhibition, 1952, exhibit 76 (pp.37 & X); The Noel Terry Collection of Furniture and Clocks, York Civic Trust 1987.