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A Charles II olivewood tic-tac turntable clock with strike and alarm
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A Charles II olivewood tic-tac turntable clock with strike and alarm\nThomas Tompion, Londini Fecit, circa 1673\nThe case in the grande architectural style with oyster veneers, ebonised twist columns with cast gilt-metal bases and Corinthian capitals supporting the entablature with pierced wood sound frets to the front and sides, the top with an ogee and bolection-moulded caddy flanked and surmounted by flowering urn and flambeau gilt-metal finials raised on rectangular pedastals, turntable base on ebony bun feet, the 9¾ in. sq. dial signed Thomas Tompion Londini Fecit in florid script beneath the narrow silvered Roman and Arabic chapter ring with pierced blued steel hands, winged cherub spandrels, the matt centre with small calendar aperture above VI, central rosette engraved calibrated alarm disc, three winding holes for going, strike and alarm, strike/silent lever above XII, latches to the dial feet and ten ringed pillars of the twin gut fusee movement with divided front plate, going barrel for the alarm, high-position outside countwheel with internal detent for strike on the single bell, bolt-and-shutter maintaining power, tic-tac escapement, the bob pendulum with steel holdfast clip to the backplate engraved with a repeat signature within a lambrequin, the movement seated on brass veneered movement blocks with screw-fixed securing plugs\n24½ in. (62.5 cm.) high
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notes

Thomas Tompion, 1639-1713, born at Northill, Bedfordshire, had moved to London by 1671 and become a brother of the Clockmakers' Company by redemption. In 1674 he moved to Water Lane and met Dr. Robert Hooke through whom he came to the notice of Charles II from which time he held an unrivalled position in English horology. In 1703 he was Master of the Clockmakers Company. He died aged 74 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Notwithsanding the obscurity of Tompion's training and uncertainty over the exact date of his arrival in London, it is certain that he established himself rapidly as a leading clockmaker. While defining his own style and method of working, Tompion started to produce clocks in small batches which is assumed to have led to his adopting a system of serial numbering, circa 1680.

During these initial years in London, the early and mid 1670s, Tompion must have been in contact with the leading horologists of the day. Of these links, that with Hooke is the only one documented, but others have been deduced on the basis of stylistic influences evident in the early clocks.

The present clock is the only Tompion spring clock falling within the 'architectural' period of casemaking, and must rank as one of the earliest clocks extant by him, circa 1673. Until its discovery in the late 1940s, it had generally been thought that Tompion had never made a turntable clock.

Parkes, in his contribution to Early English Clocks (op. cit., supra) talks of marked similarities in the present clock with the work of the Fromanteels, for instance in the sturdy construction and in the barrel ratchets of 18 teeth and like turning. Equally, the striking train, whilst similar to that of a Fromanteel clock illustrated by Parkes, pl. 117, is described by him as of improved layout.

In addition, there is a counterpart to the present clock, the silver-mounted ebony turntable clock by Joseph Knibb (sold in the Collection of Nine English Clocks, Sotheby's, 28 May 1982, lot 8). These two clocks are so similar in their cases and movements as to suggest that they were made, at least in part, by the same craftsmen. The movements are both of split-plate construction with ten pillars and the trains similarly planted with the exception that the ratchet and click for the alarm barrel are internal on Tompion's movement. Unlike Knibb, whose alarm stop lever is brought straight through above the spandrel, Tompion has cranked his to be centrally above XII in the dial.

But the most noteworthy differences are in the provision of maintaining power in Tompion's clock and in the escapement: tic-tac with Tompion over the verge of Knibb's clock. The design of the pallets is similar to that in the Tompion miniature longcase quarter striking night clock sodl in these Rooms, 5 July 1989, lot 72. Tompion's tic-tac design differs from Knibb's in that, as here, minimal clearance is allowed for between entry pallet and tooth. The tic-tac escapement was clearly an attempt to adapt the anchor escapement to the wide arc of swing of a bob pendulum. It seems Knibb's first tic-tac longcase was supplied to St. Andrews University in 1673, and Tompionn's present clock would appear to have been made in the same year.

Within Tompion's oeuvre the great majority of his spring clocks are in ebony cases. There are only two recorded standard bracket clocks in walnut cases, whereas the case of this perhaps earliest surviving spring clock by him is uniquely of olivewood oyster veneer.

title

A Charles II olivewood tic-tac turntable clock with strike and alarm

medium

The case in the grande architectural style with oyster veneers, ebonised twist columns with cast gilt-metal bases and Corinthian capitals supporting the entablature with pierced wood sound frets to the front and sides, the top with an ogee and bolection-moulded caddy flanked and surmounted by flowering urn and flambeau gilt-metal finials raised on rectangular pedastals, turntable base on ebony bun feet, the 9¾ in. sq. dial signed Thomas Tompion Londini Fecit in florid script beneath the narrow silvered Roman and Arabic chapter ring with pierced blued steel hands, winged cherub spandrels, the matt centre with small calendar aperture above VI, central rosette engraved calibrated alarm disc, three winding holes for going, strike and alarm, strike/silent lever above XII, latches to the dial feet and ten ringed pillars of the twin gut fusee movement with divided front plate, going barrel for the alarm, high-position outside countwheel with internal detent for strike on the single bell, bolt-and-shutter maintaining power, tic-tac escapement, the bob pendulum with steel holdfast clip to the backplate engraved with a repeat signature within a lambrequin, the movement seated on brass veneered movement blocks with screw-fixed securing plugs

prelot

THE PROPERTY OF A LADY

signed

The case in the grande architectural style with oyster veneers, ebonised twist columns with cast gilt-metal bases and Corinthian capitals supporting the entablature with pierced wood sound frets to the front and sides, the top with an ogee and bolection-moulded caddy flanked and surmounted by flowering urn and flambeau gilt-metal finials raised on rectangular pedastals, turntable base on ebony bun feet, the 9¾ in. sq. dial signed Thomas Tompion Londini Fecit in florid script beneath the narrow silvered Roman and Arabic chapter ring with pierced blued steel hands, winged cherub spandrels, the matt centre with small calendar aperture above VI, central rosette engraved calibrated alarm disc, three winding holes for going, strike and alarm, strike/silent lever above XII, latches to the dial feet and ten ringed pillars of the twin gut fusee movement with divided front plate, going barrel for the alarm, high-position outside countwheel with internal detent for strike on the single bell, bolt-and-shutter maintaining power, tic-tac escapement, the bob pendulum with steel holdfast clip to the backplate engraved with a repeat signature within a lambrequin, the movement seated on brass veneered movement blocks with screw-fixed securing plugs

exhibited

Science Musuem, 1952, British Clockmakers' Heritage, No. 52

Royal Academy, Winter Exhibition 1960-61, The Age of Charles II, No. 257

Victoria and Albert Museum, on loan, 1976-81

Ham House, on loan, 1991-96

dimensions

The case in the grande architectural style with oyster veneers, ebonised twist columns with cast gilt-metal bases and Corinthian capitals supporting the entablature with pierced wood sound frets to the front and sides, the top with an ogee and bolection-moulded caddy flanked and surmounted by flowering urn and flambeau gilt-metal finials raised on rectangular pedastals, turntable base on ebony bun feet, the 9¾ in. sq. dial signed Thomas Tompion Londini Fecit in florid script beneath the narrow silvered Roman and Arabic chapter ring with pierced blued steel hands, winged cherub spandrels, the matt centre with small calendar aperture above VI, central rosette engraved calibrated alarm disc, three winding holes for going, strike and alarm, strike/silent lever above XII, latches to the dial feet and ten ringed pillars of the twin gut fusee movement with divided front plate, going barrel for the alarm, high-position outside countwheel with internal detent for strike on the single bell, bolt-and-shutter maintaining power, tic-tac escapement, the bob pendulum with steel holdfast clip to the backplate engraved with a repeat signature within a lambrequin, the movement seated on brass veneered movement blocks with screw-fixed securing plugs 24½ in. (62.5 cm.) high

literature

R.W. Symonds, in Country Life Annual , 1949, pp. 109-114, Craftsmanship of Thomas Tompion, figs. 1 and 9

R.W. Symonds, Thomas Tompion, 1951, pp. 114-5, 178-9, 258, colour pl. III, figs. 102, 151, 167, 203-4

K. Ullyett, In Quest of Clocks, pl. XLIV

Dawson, Drover & Parkes, Early English Clocks, 1982, p. 178, colour pl. 8, pls. 178-81, 248-52


*Note that the price is not recalculated to the current value, but refers to the actual final price at the time the product was sold.

*Note that the price is not recalculated to the current value, but refers to the actual final price at the time the product was sold.


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