Current issue of Antiquarian Horology

Volume 38, Issue 1, March 2017

The front cover features an enamelled dial showing the times of sunrise throughout the year designed by Charles Clay with central gold disc with hand representing the face of the sun. 10.5 cms diameter. The clock is the subject of the article by Tessa Murdoch in this issue. Photo courtesy of Dreweatts 1759 Bloomsbury Auctions.

It contains the following articles:

The origin of the English lantern clock Part 2: The earliest lantern clocks
by John A. Robey (pages 35-50)
Summary: The second part of this article looks at the observation that the lantern clock appeared fully formed with no surviving prototypes. Possible transitional clocks are considered, but none can be regarded as a precursor to the English lantern clock. Continental clocks that influenced the design of the lantern clocks are also considered and some of the factors that led to the design of this specifically English clock are discussed. It is suggested that a major factor was the ease of working brass castings compared to the skills needed to forge iron wheels and frames.


A royal acquisition for the Victoria and Albert Museum
by Tessa Murdoch (pages 51-60)
Summary: An English mantel clock, with a movement signed ‘Clay’ for Charles Clay, housed in an ormolu case manufactured in Paris, was shown at London’s Masterpiece Fair July 2015. The author identified it as that described in Peter Dutens’s 1736 bill to Frederick Prince of Wales preserved in the Duchy of Cornwall Archives. The clock was acquired by the V&A in 2016. This article describes and illustrates the clock, its history and the craftsmen involved in its production. Prince Frederick’s Franco-British clock epitomizes the new Rococo taste and is an important icon for the study of French influence on decorative art produced in London in the 1730s.

The inertia escapement—William Hamilton Shortt’s first step towards the free pendulum
by Tabea Rude (pages 61-73)
Summary: William Hamilton Shortt is best known for the development of a highly successful free pendulum clock, c. 1923. Largely unknown are the much less successful predecessor clocks from the previous decade: the inertia escapement clock, the triangle regulator clock and other similar experimental clocks intended as designs for high precision timekeeping. Through the conservation process of one of these experimental models—an inertia escapement clock—we can add to the existing body of research. Studying the object, with input from Robert Miles and James Nye, more of the experimental underpinning for the development of Shortt’s thought process has emerged. We add to the literature with a comparative study of details of three of the four known surviving inertia escapement clocks. This has been completed through physical examination, but also using photographs. Importantly, it has been possible to conduct experiments on one of the clocks. Both Hope-Jones and Shortt described the inertia escapement as a failure in the quest for higher accuracy. A practical examination allows us to understand better their conclusion, and illuminate the elements of the inertia escapement that survived in the later free pendulum.

The National 15. The decline of British watchmaking and the role of Smiths in a hoped for recovery
by David Read (pages 74-89)
Summary: By 1870, the development of factory based manufacturing in the USA had changed the nature of the horological industry. The Swiss responded and modernised, but the trade in the UK resisted change, and declined dramatically as a result. In consequence the United Kingdom entered World War Two without a horological industry that could provide the high grade watches that were an essential strategic resource. A significant proportion of what was left of British clock and watchmaking, including H. Williamson Ltd, had been acquired by Smiths and the government was keen to support a national revival of the high quality segment of the industry that would match the specifications laid down by the Armed Forces and would, in due course, form the basis for successful domestic sales. How this was achieved forms the subject matter for this article. Read this article here

A comparison of early marine timekeepers, from Harrison to Earnshaw
by A.D. Stewart (pages 90-100)
Summary: The prolonged trials of early marine timekeepers carried out at the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, starting with Harrison’s H4 in 1766 and ending with Earnshaw No. 1 & No. 2 in 1804, are here compared by computing numerical values for their acceleration, sensitivity to temperature and precision.

The Crystal Palace clock
by James Nye (pages 101-107)
Summary: A notable turret clock, by Dent, installed for much of its life at Crystal Palace in Sydenham, south of London, disappeared along with everything else in the conflagration of 1936. Its three-quarter-century life story is retold here, based largely on a text by T.R. Robinson published in the Watch and Clockmaker in 1935. Read this article here

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