GEOFFREY BLACKWELL O.B.E. (1884-1943)
Geoffrey Blackwell was a discerning collector and considerable patron. After being educated at Harrow he joined the family firm of Crosse & Blackwell, becoming chairman of the company before the second world war. His diverse interests included watercolours, in particular those by Philip Wilson Steer. His main interest however was in Georgian furniture and it was his friend R.W. Symonds who steered him towards the well mannered classicism of the Georgian era. By 1936 the Blackwell collection was of sufficient importance for Symonds to devote two Apollo articles to his furniture and his clocks (vol. xxxiii, 1936).
His clocks, though small in number by comparison to the furniture, were chosen as much for their case-work as for their movements. They included a Queen Anne silver-mounted ebony table clock by Francis Robinson, a table clock by Henry Massey and a table clock by Thomas Tompion No. 212.
Joseph Knibb (1640-1711), was the most famous, inventive and prolific member of the celebrated Knibb family. The son of Thomas Knibb of Claydon, he is thought to have served his apprenticeship with his cousin Samuel Knibb, who is thought then to have been working in Newport Pagnell. Joseph then set up in Oxford in 1665, taking on his younger brothers John and Peter as apprentices.
On moving to London in about 1670/71 (the same time as Thomas Tompion), he took on a number of apprentices such as Patrick Vans, Edmund Massey, John Miller, John Drew and Brounker Watts. During his formative years in London it is now thought that Joesph Knibb and Thomas Tompion shared many of their thoughts and ideas. Some of the early work being produced from Tompion's workshops displayed many delicate Knibb-like features.
Knibb made an intriguing variety of different striking and repeating mechanisms such as Roman strike, double-six strike & grande sonnerie. His cases remained similar throughout his time in London, their simple design avoided the vagaries of fashion and his longcase clocks in particular had exquisite proportions. The vast majority of his table clocks were veneered in ebony or ebonised fruitwood but occasionally he veneered them in walnut as with the present example which has an excellent patina.