A Victorian oak architectural wall timepiece
Vulliamy, London, circa 1846-47
The four columnar pillar single chain fusee movement with half deadbeat escapement regulated by 14 inch pendulum with heavy brass bob stamped with serial number 1721 and T-bar suspension, the backplate inscribed VULLIAMY, LONDON, No.1721, the 12 inch circular silvered brass Roman numeral dial signed VULLIAMY, LONDON to centre and with steel spade hands, the architectural case with triangular ogee moulded pediment over full-height rectangular door incorporating moulded silvered brass fillet insert to the inside of the circular glazed aperture and carved foliate strapwork scroll blind fretwork panel infill to the upper quadrants and conforming apron panel, the base with shallow ogee moulded skirt over a pair of scroll outline brackets with pendulum access flap to the baseboard between fronting pendant backboard set to against the wall at the rear, 78.5cm (30.75ins) high.
Provenance: The property of a private collector, Hertfordshire; purchased at Bonhams, New Bond Street, sale of Fine Clocks 12 th December 2006 (lot 126) for £1,875.
Benjamin Lewis Vulliamy is recorded in Baillie, G.H. Watchmakers & Clockmakers of the World as born 1780 to Benjamin Vulliamy and gaining his freedom of the Clockmakers' Company in 1809. He worked from 52 Pall Mall, served as Warden 1821-5 and was appointed Master five times. He was the last of the celebrated dynasty of Royal clockmakers which started with his grandfather, Justin, forming a partnership with George II's clockmaker, Benjamin Gray. Benjamin Lewis Vulliamy was perhaps one of the most influential horologists of his time publishing many works and undertaking numerous high profile public commissions as well as holding the Royal Warrant. He supplied many clocks to the Royal family including the turret clock for Windsor Castle in 1829 (replacing an earlier movement by Joseph Knibb); however his horological legacy is perhaps somewhat slightly blighted by his tendency to undertake controversial alterations to earlier important clocks by makers such as Tompion. The Vulliamys started numbering most of their clocks from 1788 until 1854. Two of the original Vulliamy work books still survive in the library of the British Horological Institute at Upton Hall, these often can provide valuable information regarding the manufacture and provenance of many clocks made by the workshop. Unfortunately the records are incomplete hence only note clocks with serial numbers 296-469 and 746-1067. There is also a third surviving Vulliamy workbook, relating only to repairs and servicing dating to the period 1846-53. Interestingly this volume records at least sixty five clocks being in the possession of the government 'Office of Works' and another forty being in the possession of Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace.
Roger Smith in his article entitled Vulliamy Clock Numbering, A Postscript , published in Antiquarian Horology Vol. 21 No. 5 (September 1994), used surviving data in the records of the British Horological Institute at Upton Hall and known documented examples to compile a graph from which unrecorded clocks can be fairly accurately dated. According to this chart number 1721 would date to around 1846-7; this date is further corroborated by the recent discovery of Vulliamy number 1630 (see Bruun Rasmussen, Copenhagen, sale of Selected furniture, clocks and carpets, 15 th December 2020 lot 2051/8078) which is dated 1844.
The movement is in relatively clean working condition with no visible evidence of alteration or significant replacements. The original pendulum is present and is complete with its T-bar suspension block. The movement is secured in to the case with two hand screws through the seatboard, there are holes/threaded bracket for a third screw which is no longer present (and not really required!). The dial is in good original condition but has overall moderate discolouration/tarnishing to the silvering.
The case is generally in sound original condition and is free from serious defects. There is some historic opening/movement to the joints to the superstructure as well as noticeable wear to the edges of the pediment mouldings. The base backboard has been drilled to assist with the wall mounting and overall the case has been repolished taking-on a light honey-coloured hue contrasting with the frets which are stained darker. Case otherwise is very presentable with faults limited to age related bumps, scuffs and shrinkage.
In addition to the pendulum the timepiece has a case key but no winder.
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