A fine and rare Charles II forged iron and brass turret clock movement
William Clement, London, dated 1672
The posted wrought-frame with finely forged polyhedral finials and gothic ogee corbels to the widened upper and lower ends of each corner post, the rectangular horizontal top and bottom frames with lapped and screwed-tenon joints to the principal uprights at the angles and signed WILLIAM CLEMENT + LONDINI FECIT + 1672 + to the rail above the hammer pivot, the trains with brass wheels now reversed due to wear and laid out end-to-end opposing each other pivoted with brass bushes set into vertical movement bars applied to cross-members spanning between the sides of the frame, both incorporate key-wound wooden-cored longitudinal barrels and have a 2.75 inch space between them for a centre-swinging pendulum, the three-wheel going train with four-spoke wheel crossings, brass escape wheel engaging with pallets (incomplete) pivoted between extensions to the movement bars, with the centre fitted with a pendulum backcock and continuing upwards to form the top pivot of a vertical worm-gear incorporating short helix to facilitate lift-release of the strike train and terminating with a pinion driving angled take-off work, the strike train with countwheel facing the space between the trains, twin arbor warning via simple locking arm to the fly arbor fitted with a large twin-vane fly set outside the frame over the barrel winding square, the frame also applied with remote hammer lever engaging with pins set into the rim of the greatwheel, (no pendulum weights or other accessories), the frame measuring 67cm (26ins) long by 69 (27ins) wide by 41cm (16ins) high; 77.5cm 30.5ins high overall.
Provenance: The property of a private collector. Sold at Christies, London Barometers, Fine Clocks & Watches Wednesday 7 th October 1981 (lot 99) for £4,800 hammer with previous owners listed as A. Loveday of Hereford, Peter Mactaggart of Welwyn and The Hon. G.W. Bennett.
In 1671 William Clement supplied a turret clock for Kings College, Cambridge, this clock was traditionally considered to be the earliest surviving timepiece to be regulated by anchor escapement and long pendulum supporting the possibility that Clement was the inventor. This view was further perhaps fortified by an entry in Smith, John Horological Disquisitions (1694) which states 'Mr William Clement, had at last the good fortune to give it the finishing stroke, he being indeed the real contriver of that curious kind of long pendulum, which is at this day so universally in use among us'. From this it would be fair to interpret Smith as not crediting Clement with the actual invention of the long pendulum, but perhaps is instead indicating that he devised the arrangement subsequently universally adopted which must be the recoil anchor. Two years later William Derham in The-Artificial Clock-Maker puts the case forward for Dr. Robert Hooke, who it is said demonstrated the long pendulum to the Royal Society soon after the Fire of London, however it is not clear whether this was with a form of recoil anchor escapement (although it is generally accepted that Hooke devised the spring pendulum suspension). Another contender for its invention is Joseph Knibb who, in early 1670, supplied a turret clock for Wadham College, Oxford, complete with anchor recoil escapement and long pendulum. But again there is no documentary evidence to support a view that Knibb actually devised this form of regulation.
In 1677 William Clement was made a Free Brother of the Clockmakers Company and the following year was appointed Assistant by unanimous consent and approbation and for good reasons and especial esteem. He later served as Warden in 1690 and Master in 1694. In 1697 Clement signed the Oath of Allegiance and was from September of that year excused from attending meetings on account of his age. From April 1704 he received charity payments from the Company until his death in July 1709.
The current movement is described in detail in an article written by The Hon. G.W. Bennett entitled A Turret Clock by William Clement published in the June 1956 issue of the HOROLOGICAL JOURNAL (VOL. XCVIII No. 1173 pages 348-51). In addition to this the clock was also discussed by Dr. F.A.B. Ward in his article A Turret Clock by William Clement published in at the same time Antiquarian Horology (Vol. I, N. 11 page 159).
In his article The Hon. G.W. Beckett describes how the trains have been reversed in order extend the life of the mechanism by utilising the 'unworn' face of the teeth within the trains, and comments on how this was done whilst retaining essentially all of the original components. Indeed the only significant alterations required were to the operation of strike detents and repositioning of the bell hammer lever. In order to retain the correct operation of the helical gear for the strike lift-release and intermediate driving wheel was also introduced. The escapement is a replacement, almost certainly also due to wear, however its configuration is believed to essentially mirror that of the original. The take-off gear to the top of the vertical strike lift arbor has seen some alteration but again is correct in its location and functionality.
One question raised by both Beckett and Dr. Ward relates to the general layout of the mechanism. The trains of the current lot are positioned end to end with the pendulum swinging between whilst other contemporary examples, including the celebrated eight-day clock made for Kings College, Cambridge, are laid-out with their trains side by side. The answer may simply lie in their differing applications/intended installations and pricing. The end-to end layout of the current lot mirrors that of the earliest posted-frame turret clocks (with the exception of the centre-swinging pendulum) including the Salisbury Cathedral clock. This design is efficient in its construction as it allows relatively straightforward positioning of strike detents as well as potential sharing of some of the frame members for carrying pivots; however the dial take-off is fairly basic and there is no motionwork or hand setting function incorporated into the mechanism. The Kings College clock on the other hand has motionwork and a hand setting dial, both of which have been easily incorporated into the side-by-side layout resulting in an arguably much 'cleaner', more sophisticated design. Although this configuration was clearly and evolutionary step forward from the end-to-end design, it is highly likely that such movements were more expensive.
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