Current issue of Antiquarian Horology

Volume 37, Issue 4, December 2016

The front cover shows a detail of a pearl, gold and enamel automaton mouse, attributed to Henri Maillardet, circa 1805. Measuring 5.5 cm (with tail 12.5 cm), it was sold in Sotheby’s Treasures Sale  8 July 2015, lot 47. The automaton is illustrated inside this issue in the announcement of the AHS London Lecture to be given in March next year by Julia Clarke on ‘Casing watches and automata. The goldsmiths and enamellers of Geneva 1780–1830’. Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s.

It contains the following articles:

The London Gazette as a source for the history of the English horological trade: 1720–1849
by D. J. Bryden (pages 477–495)
Summary: Formal notices in the London Gazette chart the progress of bankruptcy proceedings, and petitions for release from prison by insolvent debtors. After 1720 it became routine to specify the trade of bankrupts and debtors so that members of the clock and watch trade can be readily identified. Some 400 bankruptcies involving members of the horological trade have been found between 1720 and 1849. Over that period, about 1300 members of the clock and watch trade, imprisoned as insolvent debtors, entered petitions for release. Sixty per cent of these horological practitioners were London based, the others working elsewhere in England (England and Wales – Scotland had a quite separate legal system, as did Ireland.) Many names do not appear in standard reference sources. From the early 1730s, business partnerships utilised the columns of the London Gazette to announce their formal dissolution. The termination of around 330 horological business partnerships have been logged, of which almost two thirds are non-metropolitan. The London Gazette notices provide insights into the operation of the trade in London and elsewhere in England, in particular trade specialisation and diversification from and into horological activities. This article is a condensed version of a longer fully referenced study that is available on-line for AHS members at, together with the main database, an alphabetical index of horological workers and various other appendices.

An Englishman, a Frenchman and a watchman: the cross-border life of Robert Lenoir (1898–1979)
by James Nye (pages 496–510)
Summary: Born in France, trained in Switzerland, but naturalised as British, Robert Lenoir offered a nexus between competing horological communities compelled by circumstance and personal ties to collaborate closely. British imports of Swiss parts, raw materials, machine tools, patterns, jigs, techniques, sometimes even the skilled technicians themselves, all colour the story of this remarkable man – trainee watchmaker, Great War combatant, motor accessory salesman, chief technical officer, and pivotal figure in post-Second World War British watchmaking. This article is an edited version of the 2015 Dingwall Beloe lecture, in which, using newly discovered material, the author charted the biography of this remarkable man against a backdrop of twentieth-century conflict.

The origin of the English lantern clock Part 1: Comparison with European Gothic clocks
by John A. Robey (pages 511–521)
: English lantern clocks are often said to be a development of the iron Gothic clock, made on the Continent from the fifteenth century, and while this has been refuted on stylistic (but not technical) grounds, it is still popularly believed. This article discusses the two main types of Gothic clocks: Germanic and French/Flemish, noting their similarities and differences, and compares them with the earliest lantern clocks. Apart from the basic concept of a posted-frame weight-driven wall clock with end-to-end trains, it is shown that there are very few similarities between lantern clocks and Gothic clocks. They differ not only in style but in their materials, construction and many technical details.

A Time to Remember
by Rory McEvoy, (pages 522–529)
Summary: To mark the centenary of the sinking of RMS Titanic on 15 April 1912, the National Maritime Museum (NMM) put on an exhibition entitled Titanic Remembered, which highlighted some of the stories told by survivors of the disaster to Walter Lord, who wrote the book A Night to Remember on which the 1957 film of the same name was based. When the exhibition closed at the end of September 2012, there was a brief opportunity to research one of the Museum’s evocative Titanic-related items, an 18-carat gold open faced pocket watch, before it returned to its usual permanent display. This paper discusses the study of the pocket watch using X-ray imaging and computed tomography (CT) and evaluates the outcomes of the investigation. Read this article here.

A dial described in 1473
by William Linnard (pages 530–535)
Summary: A description of an Italian tower-clock dial was published in 1473. This appears to be the earliest printed description of a clock dial ever published in Europe. The dial is of the famous tower clock in Mantua, one of the main centres of the Italian Renaissance, and this contemporary description by Pietro Adamo de Micheli is the first attempt to describe a new technological wonder in words understandable to a layman without resort to technical vocabulary.

The issue totals 144 pages and is illustrated mainly in colour, and is completed by the regular sections, Book Reviews, Picture Gallery, AHS Programme and Calendar, AHS News, Letters to the Editor and Further Reading.