Current issue of Antiquarian Horology


Volume 42, Issue 2 June 2021

The front cover shows one of a number of watches formerly owned by the Jewish horologist Alexander Grosz (1869–1940). They were unlawfully acquired for the Vienna Clock Museum in 1938, but have now been returned to the rightful heirs. The full story is told in this issue by Gerhard Milchram and Tabea Rude..

This issue contains the following articles and notes:

‘Helping to save the works of our old masters from oblivion’. The master clockmaker Alexander Grosz
by Gerhard Milchram and Tabea Rude (pages 172-186)

Summary: As part of the systematic research programme into the provenance of its collection, the Vienna Museum Group has identified seventy clocks and watches documented in the inventory of the Vienna Clock Museum, which had been unlawfully acquired in 1938. These clocks and watches were formerly owned by the Jewish horologist Alexander Grosz (1869–1940). During the Second World War, most museum objects were removed from the centre of Vienna for safekeeping from Allied air raids. The clocks and watches of the Vienna Clock Museum were hidden by the City administration and the Museum mainly in the vicarage at Klein-Engersdorf near Vienna, and at Thalheim Castle in Lower Austria. Both places were looted at the end of the war. Of the original seventy pieces that once belonged to Grosz, only forty could be found after the war. The Vienna Museum Group’s restitution programme, initiated by the Viennese administration and which started in 1998, finally traced the rightful heirs of Alexander Grosz, after long and difficult research. Following a recommendation from the Vienna Restitution Commission, the remaining clocks and watches were returned to them in 2017. This article aims to introduce Alexander Grosz as a clock and watchmaker, his ties and contributions to the international world of horology, and the known remnants of his collection. (Read this article here)

'What’s in a name? The family and early years of Thomas Tompion'
by Adrian A. Finch, Valerie J. Finch and Anthony W. Finch (pages 187-198)
Summary: Thomas Tompion (1639–1713) is one of the most important characters in English horology, described as ‘The Grandfather of English Clockmaking’. This article provides insights into his genealogy and early life. The Tompion family had rural Bedfordshire origins going back three generations and the clockmaker and his family are found in early Bedfordshire documents under the surname ‘Tomkin’. We provide a more detailed description of his family upbringing and show the clockmaker’s family are described by both surnames interchangeably. Thomas Tompion the clockmaker was also called Thomas Tomkin in his early years in London.

'1716: ‘A watch of new construction’ – a meeting of two great horological minds'
by Robert St-Louis (pages 199-218)
Summary: In 1715, the English watch/clockmaker Henry Sully was introduced to the French horloger Julien Le Roy in Paris. They became friends and collaborated on the development of a watch incorporating new design elements, which was then presented with success to the Académie royale des sciences in 1716. This article introduces the two horologists, describes their work on the watch (based on their own written memories of the collaboration and its outcome) and offers an example of knowledge sharing among horologists in early eighteenth-century Europe.

'George Graham and John Theophilus Desaguliers: mixed mathematicians'
by Ann McBroom (pages 219-242)
Summary: George Graham (1673–1751) and John Theophilus Desaguliers (1683–1744) can be characterized as mixed mathematicians, to echo a term used during the eighteenth century to describe the applications of natural philosophy to areas such as mechanics, engineering and astronomy. They were contemporaries at the Royal Society for almost twenty-five years, and collaborated on a surprisingly diverse range of topics, including event timing, friction, mechanical advantage, assessing human strength, and geared planetary machines. Desaguliers’s published lectures provide a rare window on their spheres of collaboration, and are the focus of this article. It is not intended to provide a comprehensive account of either man’s life or work.

'Two silent-pull timepieces with unusual features'
by Dennis Radage (pages 243-255)
Summary: This article describes two different approaches in configuring a timepiece with on-demand hour and quarter striking, both are signed Charles Gretton and date to circa 1700/05.

‘Unfreezing Time #6’ by Patricia Fara (pages 256-257) (Read the whole series of articles here)

'John Venning' by Chris McKay (pages 258-259)

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