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Mulberry Tompion

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1958,1006.2131

  • Title (object)

    • Mulberry Tompion
  • Escapement

  • Description

    Long-case clock; one-month duration movement; anchor escapement and 'bolt-and-shutter' maintaining power; striking-train with count-wheel (hours only); dial with circular silvered-metal chapter-ring and subsidiary seconds rings; calendar aperture on gilt matted ground; gilt-brass spandrels pierced and finely chased with bearded masks, interlaced scrolling stems and foliage; enclosed in architectural oak case finely veneered with acid-treated burr maple wood and inlaid with ebonised stringing; sliding hood with plain turned columns at angles; moulded metal-gilt capitals and bases; domed top with two mock fretwork borders surmounted by five chased ormolu flaming vase finials. TRAIN-COUNT. Going. Gt wheel 84 2nd wheel 72/14 Centre 60/9 4th wheel 56/8 Escape wheel 30/7 Striking. Gt wheel 104 2nd wheel 72/8 3rd wheel 72/6 4th wheel 54/6 Fly 6 Canon pinion Minute wheel Minute pinion Hour wheel Date pinion 24 Date wheel 48 Going weight. 23.5lbs. Striking weight. 22.5lbs.

    More 

  • Producer name

  • Date

    • 1695-1705
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 8.16 feet
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

        maker's mark
      • Inscription Content

        19 [case]
      • Inscription Type

        maker's mark
      • Inscription Content

        371 [movement and case] 19 [case]
  • Curator's comments

    2008/AUG -. worm damage waxed in on left side of case does not pass through inlaid stringing [PB]Text from 'Clocks', by David Thompson, London, 2004, p. 90.
    Thomas Tompion
    Longcase clock, 'The Mulberry'
    London, c. 1701
    Height 247 cm, width 49 cm, depth 23.5 cm
    John Stalker and George Parker, 'A Treatise of Japanning and Varnishing', 1688:
    "To stain a fine yellow - Take Burr or knotty Ash, or any other wood that is white, curled and knotty; smooth and rush it well, and having warmed it, with a brush dipt in Aqua fortis wash over the wood and hold it to the fire, as you do Japan-work until it leaves smoaking: when dry rush it again, for the Aqua fortis will make it very rough. If to these you add a polish, and varnish it with Seed-lacc, and then again polish it, you'l find no outlandish wood surpass it. . ."

    This month-going clock is housed in a beautiful 'mulberry-wood' case of the finest proportions, made using wood with extremely fine figures which create a superbly warm and sumptuous effect. The clock has been known for many years as 'The Mulberry Tompion' and was long thought to have been made from that wood. However, research shows that it is a burr wood, probably maple treated with nitric acid followed by linseed oil and lampblack to bring out the figures in the grain. That such a treatment was known at the turn of the eighteenth century is confirmed by Stalker and Parker's description of the process above.
    The well-made, substantial movement has five pillars secured by latches. The anchor escapement is controlled by a seconds-beating pendulum and the hour-striking mechanism has a count-wheel mounted on the outside of the back plate. There is also a bolt-and-shutter maintaining-power mechanism which keeps the clock going whilst it is being wound.
    The immaculate dial has a finely matted centre with a chapter ring for hours and minutes and a subsidiary dial above the centre for seconds in the normal fashion. The movement is numbered 371 and a case has the number 19: by these numbers it can be dated to about 1701-02.
    The case is of particularly fine proportions with a door at the front to allow access for winding. The hood is enhanced by plain columns with gilded-brass capitals and bases, and there are finely pierced fretwork panels which allow the sound of the bell to escape. To give the clock an even grander appearance there are five large gilded 'flaming vase' finials at the top. The overall effect of this most elegant of clocks with such a superb case is quite stunning and the fine proportions of the clock would have made it eminently suitable for a grandly furnished room in any stately house in England at the beginning of the eighteenth century. In 1701, such a clock would have cost about £20. In that year a bill to the Honourable Robert Harley Esq. from Thomas Tompion lists a 'month clock in an extraordinary case' at £17 10s.
    Ilbert Collection.

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  • Bibliography

    • Thompson 2004 p.90 bibliographic details
  • Location

    G39/freestanding

  • Conservation

    See treatments 

    Treatment date

    11 November 2008

    Reason for treatment

    Permanent Exhibition

    Treatment proposal

    Clean surface secure loose bead.

    Bead detached when delivered also damaged veneers to upper proper right door and lifting crossbanding not seen during assessment.

    Condition

    During assessment loose side bead identified. When object delivered to Orsman road bead detached other beads loose. Top door rail stepped forward from door panel causing split and lost veneers.

    The hood had a corner bead damage and one corner was lost. A putty (?) like material securing the hood glass panes was friable and shedding.

    A previous conservation treatment involving a pasted(?) support and padding out of the hood roof with Plastazote was observed. No previous record of this treatment was found on Merlin or old card systems.

    Treatment details

    Clock cleaned of dust and grime by vacuum and soft brush. Fingerprints and fly dirt was cleaned with soft lint free cotton moistened with white spirit (composition variable - petroleum distillate). Cross band beading was secured with Kremer cold setting fish glue (< 1% phenol). Top door rail realigned and adhered into position with cold setting fish glue. Lifting veneers relaid with cold setting fish glue and areas of loss infilled with coloured waxes. The wax was then touched in with special pale button polish (shellac,ethanol,methanol). Small balsa wood inserts were inserted dry into the fixing holes of the ormolu finials on the hood to secure them in place. The putty like material holding the glass in the hood was friable and becoming detached. The glass "putty" was consolidated with 2 applications of 2.5% Paraloid B72 (methyl ethyl methacrlylate) in 50/50 IMS (Industrial methylated spirits i.e. ethanol, methanol) and acetone (propan-1-one/dimethyl ketone). Scuffed corners of the base were touched in with button polish (shellac,IMS). A light coat of beeswax/carnuba wax was applied to the surface.

    The hood had a lost corner bead element which appeared to be walnut a walnut block was adhered with (pearl) animal glue and carved to shape this corner was then given several applications of button polish (shellac,IMS).

    About these records 

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1958

  • Acquisition notes

    The Ilbert Collection of clocks, prints and other related material was destined to be sold at Christie's auction house on 6th-7th November 1958. As a result of the generous donation of funds by Gilbert Edgar CBE the sale was cancelled and the material purchased privately from the beneficiaries of the Ilbert Estate. Ilbert's watches were then acquired with further funds from Gilbert Edgar CBE, public donations and government funds. These were then registered in the series 1958,1201.

  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number

    1958,1006.2131

  • Additional IDs

    • CAI.2131 (Ilbert Collection)
    • Q329 (Ilbert Ledger)
Long-case clock; one-month duration movement; anchor escapement and 'bolt-and-shutter' maintaining power; striking-train with count-wheel (hours only); dial with circular silvered-metal chapter-ring and subsidiary seconds rings; calendar aperture on gilt matted ground; ormolu spandrel plaques pierced and finely chased with bearded masks, interlaced scrolling stems and foliage; enclosed in architectural oak case finely veneered with mulberry wood and inlaid with ebonised stringing; sliding hood with plain turned columns at angles; moulded metal-gilt capitals and bases; domed top with two mock fretwork borders surmounted by five chased ormolu flaming vase finials.

TRAIN-COUNT.
Going.
Gt wheel 84
2nd wheel 72/14
Centre 60/9
4th wheel 56/8
Escape wheel 30/7

Striking.
Gt wheel 104
2nd wheel 72/8
3rd wheel 72/6
4th wheel 54/6
Fly 6

Canon pinion
Minute wheel
Minute pinion
Hour wheel
Date pinion 24
Date wheel 48 

Going weight.
23.5lbs.
Striking weight.
22.5lbs.

Long-case clock; one-month duration movement; anchor escapement and 'bolt-and-shutter' maintaining power; striking-train with count-wheel (hours only); dial with circular silvered-metal chapter-ring and subsidiary seconds rings; calendar aperture on gilt matted ground; ormolu spandrel plaques pierced and finely chased with bearded masks, interlaced scrolling stems and foliage; enclosed in architectural oak case finely veneered with mulberry wood and inlaid with ebonised stringing; sliding hood with plain turned columns at angles; moulded metal-gilt capitals and bases; domed top with two mock fretwork borders surmounted by five chased ormolu flaming vase finials. TRAIN-COUNT. Going. Gt wheel 84 2nd wheel 72/14 Centre 60/9 4th wheel 56/8 Escape wheel 30/7 Striking. Gt wheel 104 2nd wheel 72/8 3rd wheel 72/6 4th wheel 54/6 Fly 6 Canon pinion Minute wheel Minute pinion Hour wheel Date pinion 24 Date wheel 48 Going weight. 23.5lbs. Striking weight. 22.5lbs.

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