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Lot 142: A fine and rare Queen Anne ebony quarter-chiming table clock with alarm...
March 11, 2014
Newbury, United KingdomLive Auction
A fine and rare Queen Anne ebony quarter-chiming table clock with alarm...
A fine and rare Queen Anne ebony quarter-chiming table clock with alarm James Reith, London, circa 1710 The six finned pillar (centre latched) twin fusee hour-striking movement with verge escapement, rise/fall regulation, pendulum hold/release lever and now fitted with additional fusee for chiming a different musical phrase via original pinned cylinder and nest of six graduated bells every quarter hour, the fine symmetrical foliate scroll and cornucopiae engraved backplate signed James Reith, LONDON to a central cartouche and fitted with pull-wind spring barrel for the alarm mechanism sounding on the hour bell and set via a rotating subsidiary dial positioned in the arch of the dial driven via vertical arbor by a contrate wheel fitted to the hour wheel/pipe, the 7.5 inch brass shallow break-arch dial with herringbone canted border engraved calendar and false bob apertures to the matted centre within applied Roman numeral silvered chapter ring with cruciform half hour markers and Arabic five minutes to outer track and signed Reith, London to lower margin, the lower angles applied with crown and sceptre pattern cast spandrels, the upper angles with rosette-centred silvered Strike/Silent and Locke ye Swing/Unlock ye Swing subsidiary selection dials set within a field of fine foliate engraving continuing to the arch incorporating arched regulation sector divided 0-60 and annotated Slo/Faft with fine steel pointer cranked to clear the centre pivot for the rotating silvered Roman numeral alarm setting dial contained within, the early inverted bell-top case with gilt brass carrying handle and ball finials above shallow-arch glazed front door with foliate pierced frets to upper quadrants, the sides with conforming lozenge shaped frets above rectangular windows, the rear with rectangular door inset with arch glazed aperture and upper quadrant frets to match the front, on moulded shallow skirt base with gilt brass compressed bun feet, 41.5cm (16.25ins) high excluding handle. James Reith is recorded in Baillie, G.H. Watchmakers & Clockmakers of the World as apprenticed in 1698 and free of the Clockmaker's Company 1705-6. Reith was recruited by Henry Sully to work with him at the watch workshops at Versailles which Sully had established in 1718. Reith became Sully's assistant manager but unfortunately sought to subsequently blame Sully for the low volume of production. Sully left to set up another workshop under a different patron at St. Germain en Laye, which by 1720 had also failed. Relatively few clocks and watches by James Reith are known but all of them are of the highest quality and include an early year going longcase clock with equation of time (illustrated in ANTIQUARIAN HOROLOGY Vol. 19 page 28) and a fine gilt brass mounted burr walnut veneered table clock with three subsidiaries to the full-arch dial. Of his watches a few signed as being made in Versailles are known, including a gold cased example in The Victoria and Albert Museum (Museum Number M.127 ). The current lot is testament to Reith's high quality approach. The movement is substantially built with plates measuring 8.25 by 7 inches and incorporates many rare features. These include an alarm mechanism which utilises contrate wheels to connect the remote subsidiary rotating setting dial (in the arch of the dial) with the hour wheel. The alarm is set by a steel pointer reading against the alarm hour-ring which in turn releases the mechanism (via lifting piece to the rear of the arch) at the selected time. Although remote alarm setting dials are not unheard of, they are rare with most using a series of standard wheels fitted to the rear of the dial to connect with the hour wheel. The original winding key (which was originally fitted with a second squared pipe for setting alarm pointer via its centre square) is still with the clock. The engraved decoration to the movement backplate is of the highest quality and can be firmly attributed to Tompion s engraver G195 whose work is described in detail in Evans, Jeremy; Carter, Jonathan and Wright, Ben THOMAS TOMPION, 300 YEARS. Evans, Carter and Wright speculate that G195 could possibly be identified as being Henry Adeane, who is recorded as gaining his freedom of the Clockmaker s Company in 1675 and was still working in 1704. The large bold symmetrical scrolling foliage is very typical of his work however it is the entwined-scroll engraved signature cartouche which incorporates a grotesque mask with long hatched outswept canopy to the upper margin which leaves us no doubt as this attribution. This motif is repeated on several Tompion spring clocks including numbers 369, 375, 444, 460 (the Barnard Tompion ) and 467. The cornucopiae are generally not seen on Tompion backplates but are sometimes used on movements by Windmills and Quare, who were also known to have sometimes employed G195 . In addition to the backplate, foliate scroll engraved infill is used effectively to populate the spaces around the many features in the arch of the dial. This shallow profile arch, as well as being centred by the alarm setting dial, has a curved silvered arc for the rise/fall mechanism over subsidiary strike/silent selection and pendulum locking dials to the upper spandrel areas. The latter of these features is particularly rare and not often seen on standard-sized table clocks outside the workshops of Tompion or Graham. The shape of the arch is a transitional feature favoured by relatively few makers during the first decade or so of the 18th century, perhaps most notably Joseph Windmills. However most early shallow-arch dials seem to rely purely on engraving alone (usually incorporating a signature) to decorate the arch, the complex arrangement of features seen on the current lot is extremely rare at this date and aesthetically particularly pleasing. IMPORTANT NOTES REGARDING THE CATALOGUING OF CLOCKS Movements, dials and cases: movements and dials are described as relating to the cases in which they are housed in one of the following three ways: the case.... we are of the opinion that the movement and dial started life in the current case. in a case we are of the opinion that the movement and dial are in a case of correct period and type (and may well be original to the movement and dial), however there is evidence to suggest that they may not have started out life together. now in a case we are of the opinion that the movement and dial are no longer in the original case or one of correct period and/or type. Pendulums, weights, winding and case keys: unless specifically indicated otherwise in the catalogue description it can be assumed that all clocks with cases are sold with the requisite pendulum and correct number of weights (where appropriate), however we cannot guarantee that they are original to the clock. We do not indicate in the catalogue description whether winding or case keys are present with any specific clock. As many clocks are consigned without keys please check with the department to establish whether they are present or not prior to bidding. Condition: due to the mechanical nature of clocks and the fact that most are of great age we cannot offer any guarantee as to whether they are in working order or free from major faults or restoration. Although we endeavour to catalogue items in a fair and informed manner, omission of any comments or observations regarding the condition or originality of a clock in the description does not necessarily indicate that it is free from significant faults, restoration or is in working condition. We would strongly advise any prospective purchaser to view the item in person or request a condition report and/or further images prior to bidding. Measurements: dial measurements are given in inches, other dimensions such as height are given in centimetres and inches. The measurement given for the height of a longcase clock excludes any removable finials in order to provide an approximate minimum ceiling height in which the clock can be accommodated.