Recent issues of Antiquarian Horology

Volume 38, Issue 2, June 2017

The front cover shows a detail of a William and Mary walnut and marquetry longcase clock case, c. 1690. The intriguing imagery is the subject of ‘An interesting case’ in this issue. Photo by Guy Boney Q.C.

This issue contains the following seven articles and two notes:

Don’t mention the war! The chequered early years of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers
by George White (pages 175-190)
Summary: This article is an annotated version of The Clockmakers’ Company Annual ‘Harrison Lecture’ delivered on 23 September 2013. Drawing both on the Company’s surviving records and on outside sources, it relates how a small group of admittedly superlative workmen, without sufficient funding, grabbed the opportunity to form a Company when it unexpectedly presented itself and then faced a thirty-year struggle against extraordinary odds to turn the gamble they had taken to success.

 

Early English horological terms
by John A. Robey & William Linnard (pages 191-201)
Summary: English terminology used for clocks and clock parts has developed and changed over many centuries. Regional and dialect differences and individual preferences are also evident, as well as some terminological confusion. Many terms have become obsolete and are no longer used, and the meaning of some old terms is now uncertain or quite obscure. Using a wide range of printed sources we have compiled the following vocabulary of old terms relating to turret clocks and domestic clocks. It must be stressed that no attempt has been made to cover terminology relating to astronomical clocks, regulators, chronometers or watches.

Courtenay Adrian Ilbert, Horological Collector Part Two: Acquisition, 1930–1939
by Paul Buck (pages 202-220)
This article is a revised version of the 19th Dingwall-Beloe lecture delivered by the author in 2009. The first part was published in the December 2010 journal. The third and final part will appear in a future issue.

Two Poor Law clocks
by Chris McKay (pages 221-238)
Summary: Any clock or watch is the product of the technology of its time, the tools and materials available, the political, religious, social and economic situation, the driving need and the people who used it. It is easy to focus on a clock and its mechanism to the exclusion of the other factors. Two turret clocks I met were technically quite ordinary; their social history was very interesting. They were both products of the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act.

The story behind PATENT SURETY ROLLER stamped on carriage clocks
by Thomas R. Wotruba (pages 239-247)
Summary: During the last quarter of the nineteenth century a number of carriage clocks appeared with the words PATENT SURETY ROLLER within an oval stamped on the backplate. To many, this phrase was something of a mystery and an explanation of it was hard to find. Sometimes a few letters in this stamp were damaged, causing further confusion. This article attempts to explain the device defined by this phrase — its invention, its purpose, how it functions as part of the clock movement, and the extent of its presence in the marketplace. Read this article here

An impoverished innovator. Joseph Anthony Berrollas (1775–1852)
by David Buckden (pages 248-254)
Summary: Joseph Anthony Berrollas, active in London in the first half of the nineteenth century, sought new and elegant solutions in the development of greater sophistication in pocket watches. His achievements are marked by patents which related to alarm, repeat and winding functionalities. Though not well-known by timepieces with his own signature, his work and concepts were adopted by good quality makers/retailers such as Viner and Roskell. The commercial aspects of his career, however, lacked the success of his technical attainment and his personal/domestic life was dogged by brushes with the Law through persistent indebtedness.

Early clocks in English woodcuts
by William Linnard (pages 255-259)
Summary: The earliest illustrations of English domestic clocks so far recorded date from the middle of the sixteenth century. This paper describes two clocks that feature in early English woodcuts of 1509 and 1519. As such they are the earliest images of domestic clocks known in Britain.

Notes:
The electro-magnetic verge by Chris McKay (pages 260-263)
An interesting case by Guy Boney Q.C. (pages 264-266)

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

Top of Page


 

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.

Top of Page


 

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 www.ahsoc.org/members/more/, 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)
Summary
: 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.

Top of Page


 

Volume 37, Issue 3, September 2016

The front cover shows a detail of the rolling ball clock ‘Tower of Babel’, made by Hans Schlottheim, Augsburg, c.1600.  Grünes Gewölbe, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden. (Photo Jürgen Karpinski). The clock is illustrated in full in the article by Anthony Turner.

This issue contains the following articles:

New light on chronometer-makers and the scientific instrument trades in the nineteenth century
by Gloria Clifton (pages 327-348)
Summary: Those with an interest in a particular type of object such as chronometers, or compasses, sometimes seem to forget that the people who produced and sold them often had other commercial interests and networks, which influenced their businesses. While there were always a few specialists, many of those who called themselves chronometer makers also sold a range of other related material. On the other hand, nautical instrument makers usually sold chronometers. The main aim of this essay is to examine these connected activities which did much to support maritime and scientific endeavour. In the course of research it also emerged that some of the details given in standard reference works needed revising, so in this sense too the work has thrown new light on the subject, and examples are given in an appendix.

Concerning some curious clocks in the cabinet of Grollier de Servière
by Anthony Turner (pages 349-365)
Summary: Nicolas Grollier de Servière (between 1593 and 1599-1689) of Lyon created a variety of mechanical contrivances, of which his grandson Gaspard II Comte de Servière (1676-1745) published illustrated descriptions. This article discusses the clocks and places them in their contemporary context. It is an extended version of a lecture given at a colloquium at the Musée des Confluences in Lyon in February 2016.

W. E. Frodsham No.1. Another chronometer identified from HMS Beagle’s second voyage
by Simon C. Davidson and Peter Linstead-Smith (pages 366-376)
Summary: The second voyage of the Beagle, 1831–36, commanded by Robert Fitzroy, besides being famous for carrying Charles Darwin, was on an important surveying mission which necessitated the use of a large number of chronometers. Only a few of these are currently known to exist. Following extensive research, the authors can now reveal that Chronometer P is in fact W. E. Frodsham No.1 and this article shows its history between 1823 and the present day. It has been established that Fitzroy changed mid-voyage the alphabet sequence of some of his chronometers, something he had not revealed in his published works. This explains some anomalies that previously could not be reconciled. Read this article here.

Swiss watches, tariffs and smuggling with dogs
by Alun C. Davies (pages 377-384)
Summary: Why did the smuggling of Swiss watches into Britain become so extensive and lucrative between the late eighteenth and mid-nineteenth century? There were three reasons. First, Swiss watches were attractive, cheap, and good value for money for first-time buyers who could not afford technically superior but more expensive Clerkenwell models. Second, British horological tariffs were sufficiently high that successful smuggling operations to breach them were very profitable. And third, smuggling watches was difficult to prevent. The English coastline was long, and customs officers and their resources were ineffective. Smuggling from land-locked Switzerland – the first stage – was accomplished by a variety of methods – carts, boats, horses and, as the long extract in this paper illustrates, by the use of dogs. By the mid-nineteenth century Swiss watches were widely sold in international markets, a prelude to their dominance (with American watches) of world markets in the three of four decades before the Great War. In Britain the failure of high horological tariffs to prevent smuggling helped pave the way for Free Trade.

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.

Top of Page


 

Volume 37, Issue 2, June 2016

The front cover shows the memorial inscription honouring Peter Henlein at the Walhalla hall of German fame in Donaustauf near Regensburg, 1840. (Photo Thomas Eser). For further information on this plaque see his article in this issue.

This issue contains the following articles:

Ung petit traictie pour faire horoleiges: A little treatise for making clocks in the fourteenth century
by William Linnard, John A. Robey and Michael T. Wright, (pages 182–198)
Summary: This article describes a treatise on clockmaking compiled by an unknown clockmaker in about 1380. It is the earliest known practical clockmaking manual in Europe, and accordingly is of great importance for the history and development of horology. A transcript of the original Old French manuscript is reproduced, a literal translation of the complete text in English is here presented for the first time, and the difficult and often obscure text is explained in a detailed commentary, together with the illustrated reconstructions proposed for some of the various mechanisms. From this old treatise we may infer that the second half of the fourteenth century was a period of intense activity and experimentation in clockmaking in France, that several alternative designs of clock mechanisms had already been developed and were known among clockmakers, and that a relatively large number of artisans were engaged in the new craft of clockmaking.

The Henlein exhibition at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum. A look back, a look forward and new discoveries
by Thomas Eser (pages 199–212)
Summary: From 4 December 2014 to 12 April 2015, the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg staged the exhibition ‘The oldest pocket watch in the world? The Henlein dispute’. The centrepiece was the cylindrical, spring-driven, small timekeeper which has been in the museum since 1897, and which has traditonally been regarded as having been made by the local metalworker Peter Henlein in 1510. A research team has now concluded that it is either a conglomerate of newer and older components, or an outright forgery of the nineteenth century. This article was first published in German in the Jahresschrift der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Chronometrie and appears here in a translation by Fortunat Mueller-Maerki.

A fourteenth-century Italian turret clock
by Marisa Addomine, (pages 213–222)
Summary: A turret clock in Chioggia near Venice, decommissioned in the 1970s, can be traced back to 1386 on the basis of a systematic exploration of the local archives. This article  presents the documentary evidence for the history of the clock and offers a 3D reconstruction. Read this article here

Ralph Gout, watchmaker (1740–1828)
by David Buckden, (pages 223–236)
Summary: This article sets out to clarify the circumstances of the use of the Ralph Gout name on watches made by him and, after his death (previously wrongly dated at 1829 or even 1836), by others. It also accounts how Gout’s son, David, working with Maximillian Borrell, was responsible for the watches made 1829–64, previously attributed by Loomes to Ralph (?II). Details are given of Gout’s bankruptcy in 1796 and – not previously covered in the horological literature – the injunctions obtained by David to prevent faking of Ralph Gout watches made for the Turkish market. The article incorporates a list of sixty-one extant Ralph Gout watches and watch/pedometers with their movement numbers, dates and relevant notes; instruments functioning purely as a pedometer are not included.

Quartz clocks and the public in Britain, 1930–60
by David Rooney, (pages 237–246)
Summary:  This article explores three stories about quartz timekeeping and the ways in which it started to become domesticated in Britain in the middle decades of the twentieth century. Following a brief overview of quartz and its use in timekeeping, the first story will examine the roles played by three public bodies, namely the National Physical Laboratory, the Royal Observatory and the Post Office, in the early development of British quartz timekeeping, and will reveal a complex interrelationship between engineering, science, communications and timekeeping in a period of intense public activity in network technology development. The second story will explore the ways quartz clocks were presented in public before and after the Second World War as a product of internationalism, as well as the introduction of quartz-controlled time to British homes from the 1940s in the form of domestic time signals. The third and final story will offer a case study exploring some ways in which a new technology might move from the state-of-the-art to the everyday.

The British naval chronometers of 1821
by A. D. Stewart, (pages 247–252)
Summary: The Astronomer Royal in 1821 asked for a list of all the chronometers in use with the British Navy, together with the names of the officers responsible for them, and their location. The resulting list, compiled by the Hydrographer to the Navy, Capt. Thomas Hurd, is here presented in its entirety, with a brief commentary.

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

Top of Page


 

Volume 37, Issue 1, March 2016

The front cover shows a detail of the movement inside the eighteenth-century automaton elephant at Waddesdon Manor, which is the subject of a Letter to the Editor in this issue. (Photo: Jonathan Betts)

This issue contains the following articles and notes:

Daniel Quare’s numbered clocks
by George Kenney, (pages 37–54)
Summary: Daniel Quare began to number his clocks c.1706. Observations over forty-five years of numbered clocks signed ‘Quare’ or ‘Quare and Horseman’ are presented in a list and in graphical form. Nine examples of numbered clocks are illustrated. Quare’s partnership with Horseman, c.1717, began about the time of the clock numbered 148. The clock numbered 239 may be the last numbered clock produced while Quare was alive. I estimate that the total number of clocks signed ‘Quare’ or ‘Quare & Horseman’ is about 750, with approximately 40 per cent, or about 300 clocks, bearing numbers over the period of c. 1706–1730. It should be noted that Daniel Quare maintained three independent sets of numbers for watches, clocks and barometers.

Time to reconsider—The life and work of George Bennett Bowell (1875–1942)
by Dr James Nye (pages 55-72)
Summary: This article is the third in a series of updated versions of lectures delivered at Greenwich in June 2010 to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the AHS Electrical Horology Group. Frank Hope-Jones, soi-disant ‘high priest’ of electrical horology, looms large in the literature and popular consciousness of the field in the UK. But hidden in his shadow lie both the life and contribution of the engineer with whom he travelled to London in 1895 on a disastrous attempt to make their fortunes. George Bennett Bowell devised the influential ‘Synchronome switch’, yet abandoned its use, championing alternative designs for both master clocks and impulse dial movements. This and his wider work merit further attention.

Winner or loser. Did John Harrison win the Longitude Prize?
by Andrew King, (pages 73–81)
Summary:  The year 2014 has provided an appropriate opportunity to make a close appraisal of the Longitude Act in the 300th anniversary year. This paper goes further to discuss the background to the Act, the public response and the consequences of the meetings of the appointed Commissioners of Longitude. Then, to interpret this and subsequent acts within the culture and law of English society. Particularly with the significance of this to the relationship between John Harrison and the Commissioners over a period of more than thirty years. This paper is an abridgment of the twenty-sixth Dingwall-Beloe lecture, delivered on 24 November 2014.

Horological patents, 1662–c.1800: Restraining trade, stifling innovation or rewarding invention?
by Alun C. Davies, (pages 82–100)
Summary: English patents for invention were open to consultation by anyone and thus are important sources of the knowledge of inventions. In their modern form they first appeared in 1624. The Clockmakers’ Company generally opposed them as it believed they acted as a ‘restraint of trade’. In the first period, 1662–1715, few patents were granted and several were successfully opposed by the guild. The second period, from 1715 to about 1760, also saw only a handful of horological patents. Horologists found alternative incentives to invention - especially in the Longitude Prize. Some important innovations - like Huntsman’s steel – were not primarily horological and relied on secrecy. In the third period, after about 1760, the attraction of monopoly benefits from patent protection reappeared. Led by Arnold and Earnshaw patents became attractive again, especially for horologists seeking rewards for incremental improvements to chronometers.

Notes:
A Clock Club at Milford Haven in 1805
by William Linnard, (pages 101–104)

When is a Bryer not a Bryer?
by Gordon Hoare, (pages 105–108)

A wrist chronograph, a radio amateur and a handful of wichety grubs
by David Read, (pages 109-110)  Read this note here

Picture Gallery - Turret clock by James Harrison of Hull, 1845
(pages 111-114) Read this here

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

Top of Page