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 Derek Roberts, British Skeleton Clocks, Antique Collectors' Club, 1987, 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' (see Roberts, op.cit., p.127). Such clocks were amongst the finest the company produced. See also lot 68.