A FINE AND RARE GEORGE II GILT BRASS MOUNTED EBONISED QUARTER-STRIKING TABLE CLOCK
HENRY HINDLEY, YORK, MID 18 th CENTURY
The six distinctive double-baluster turned pillar twin chain fusee movement with arched plates measuring 10.25 by 6 inches enclosing greatwheels fitted to the narrow ends of the fusee cones, the going train incorporating perpendicular contrate drive from the centre-wheel to the escapement positioned at the apex of the plates, now with deadbeat escapement incorporating Brocot-type pallets positioned between the dial and the front plate (behind a shaped bridge) and regulated by half-seconds lenticular bob pendulum swinging to the rear, the two-in-one quarter-striking train incorporating single rack for both hours and the quarters utilising a standard snail arrangement to set the count for the former, and a second three-tooth rack stop lever (acting on a pin set in the hour rack arm) to control the latter, sounding on a graduated pair of bells with the hour on the larger and the quarters on both via dedicated hammers (incorporating Hindley's distinctive 'L' shaped springs) driven by the same pin wheel with automatic positioning via lateral pump action facilitating disengagement of the quarter hammers and engagement of third single hour hammer leading up to the hour, the backplate applied with an additional second plate finely engraved with asymmetric scrolling foliage around a central circular cartouche signed Hen. Hindley, of YORK flanked by Ho-Ho bird, lion and grotesque mask inhabited strapwork, the 7 inch arched brass dial with richly matted centre within applied silvered Roman numeral dial with Arabic five minutes to outer track and signed H. Hindley, York to lower edge, with scroll-pierced steel hands and lambrequin mask centred scroll cast spandrels, the upper margin with Strike quar's/Hr/Silent selection beneath arch centred with a subsidiary seconds dial flanked by female sphinx inhabited scroll cast mounts, the plate further applied with raised ogee border mouldings incorporating architectural cavetto 'capitals' and keystone details, the ebonised bell-top case with hinged brass carrying handle and pineapple finials over complex top mouldings and arch-glazed hinged front incorporating generous gilt fillet moulding to dial aperture, foliate scroll cast gilt upper quadrant frets and applied with female term mounts to uprights, the sides with arched brass fish scale sound frets and the rear with rectangular glazed door set within the frame of the case, on stepped ogee moulded skirt base.
48cm (19ins) high with handle down, 27.5cm (10.75ins) wide, 18.5cm (7.25ins) deep.
Henry Hindley was born in Great Harwood, near Blackburn, Lancashire 1699, little is known about his early life, however by the mid 1720's he was making clocks in Wigan where he repaired the church clock in 1726. Hindley moved with his young family (including his son, Joseph born 1728) to the prosperous city of York where, after making clocks for the Mansion House and Guildhall, he gained his Freedom of the city in 1732. Hindley s talents were such that he equipped his workshop with tools of his own design including an important dividing and wheel cutting engine, a screw cutting lathe and a fusee engine. As well as domestic clocks Hindley received commissions for several turret clocks including York Minster and supplied a range of scientific instruments including two important equatorial telescopes for the Duke of Norfolk and William Constable. By the 1760 s Hindley s health had deteriorated to the extent that an ever-increasing proportion of the business was handled by his son Joseph. Henry died in 1771 with his son and successor Joseph unfortunately dying just three years later in 1774, before he had had the opportunity to stamp his own mark on the family firm.
According to the late Rodney Law, of Hindley's work only around 15 'spring clocks' are known versus around 40 longcases (see Law, R.J. HENRY HINDLEY OF YORK 1701-1771, PART II - published as an excerpt by The Antiquarian Horological Society). Law writes that of the examples seen by him all except one have half-seconds pendulums, all but three seconds hands and the majority have maintaining power. All also have the same distinctive design of double baluster pillar following those possibly first seen on Hindley's longcase clock of 1742 suggesting that he did not start making spring clocks until after that date. The use of fusees with the large ends positioned frontwards was to reduce the degree of friction at the larger front pivot which, with the standard design, was most apparent after winding. Further refinements include 'kneed' springs (of right-angled 'L' form), and two-in-one quarter-striking using the same rack for both the quarters and the hours. Indeed it is noted by Rodney Law that the latter detail has similarities with French work suggesting that Hindley was either well-read, having studied the works of makers such as Thiout, or was kept abreast of French work by his 'ingenious Jesuit friend'
The positioning of the escapement behind a bridge towards the apex of the arch of the frontplate (driven via a vertically pivoted arbor with contrate wheels), is again typical of Hindley's work and allows space for a half-second pendulum to be installed in a standard-sized table clock as well as the provision of subsidiary seconds to the arch of the dial. Indeed when fitted with his form of deadbeat escapement Hindley's table clocks would have been very good timekeepers, hence the provision of a seconds dial will be very worthwhile. In addition to these refinements the wheel train of the current clock is very finely executed with pinion counts of eight or above which, again, ensures fine accurate running. A clock by Hindley with very similar design and layout to the current movement is illustrated and described in Darken, Jeff (editor) TIME & PLACE, English Country Clocks 1600-1840 on pages 150-53.
The separately engraved backplate fitted to the present clock is highly unusual. The decoration is finely executed by an accomplished engraver and can be firmly placed within the category of 'vine engraving 1740-1770' discussed in Dzik, Sunny ENGRAVING ON ENGLISH TABLE CLOCKS, Art on a Canvas of Brass 1660-1800 on pages 337-358. Indeed the quality of the engraving, both in its up-to-date sophisticated design and highly accomplished execution, would suggest that it was executed in London. It is therefore most probable that Hindley sent the plate to London to be engraved as a separate entity from the movement and fitted it over the plain backplate on completion of the mechanism.
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