Vaudrey Mercer, Edward John Dent, AHS, 1977, pl.43
Derek Roberts, English Precision Pendulum Clocks, Schiffer,
2003, p. 168, fig. 20-8A-d
"I beg leave to inform you that I have succeeded in applying the remontoire escapement to a small clock and it appears to answer well" sir George Biddel Airy (1801-1892) wrote these words in a letter to Dent on 28th September 1843, he was 42 years old and had been Astronomer Royal for some eight years. Airy was a mathematical and scientific genius, a tireless inventor whose boundless energy was to the great benefit of science, horology and astronomy. It is said that in one of his examinations at the age of 18 whilst at grammar school in Colchester he had repeated 2394 lines of Latin verse! He won a scholarship at Cambridge and age 23 was elected a Fellow of Trinity and became assistant mathematical tutor - in short - he was a genius.
He was fascinated with horology and had many dealings with the firm of Dent collaborating with them on many occasions not only with the present remontoire invention (designed originally for the turret clock at the Royal Exchange) but also other famous experiments including the electrically driven Greenwich Mean Time clock, made circa 1870. This was the first clock made with sufficient accuracy to warrant adjustment for variations in atmospheric pressure and it became the Greenwich Mean Time clock from 1870 to 1920 at which time it was superceeded by Shortt's vacuum tank clocks.
Edward John Dent was born in 1790, the son of a tallow chandler, Airy the son of an excise collector, their relatively humble up-bringings may explain why their collaboration was so fruitful. Dent apprenticed to Richard Rippon and was Journeyman and chronometer maker for several other illustrious clockmakers such as Vulliamy and Barraud before entering into partnership with John Roger Arnold in 1830(-1840). He died in 1853 but his business was inherited by his two stepsons Frederick and Richard Rippon on condition they took the Dent name. He was best known for making the Great Westminster Clock or 'Big Ben'.
The present clock is illustrated and extensively described in the book on this great clockmaker; Vaudrey Mercer, Edward John Dent, AHS, 1977, pl.43.
A very similar clock numbered 521 was sold Sotheby's, New York, Masterpieces from the Time Museum, December 2, 1999, lot 72