- Museum number
Horizontal table clock; spring-driven movement with fusees to both trains; plates and wheels all of brass; going-train with verge escapement and original balance; striking train with count wheel for hours only; bell housed between plates; alarm mechanism missing; gilded brass dial with four subsidiary dials indicating: day of week, last hour struck, quarter hours, hours; last dial has alarm setting disc at centre; square gilded brass case with engraved hunting scenes; pierced door; repoussé base; later outer leather protective case.
Gt wheel 66 (with 8 turns to fusee)
2nd wheel 55/8
Contrate wheel 50/6
Crown wheel 21/5
Extended fusee arbor has pinion of 21 driving hour-wheel of 48
Gt wheel 60 (with 9 turns to fusee)
2nd wheel 48/10
3rd wheel 42/6
4th wheel 36/6
- Production date
- Curator's comments
- The following text is the entry for this object from the unpublished catalogue of pre-pendulum clocks by John Leopold, former Assistant Keeper of Horology at the Museum. This information is unedited and should be used accordingly.
SQUARE TABLECLOCK, BY I.C., BERN, ca.1630, with traveling case.
Ascribed to Josua Grunner (1572-1640).
12-hour strike, formerly with alarm.
Postcards (1925) no.7 (thought to be Dutch).
Exhib.Cat Bern (1992) 34.
Wayman (2000) 67-68, fig.4.26-29 (analysis of both main springs).
Punched on the back plate with the arms of Bern flanked by the initials I G. Punched on the dial side of the front plate, under the pinion-of-report: 22 (see Commentary) Scratched on the barrel of the striking train: "schlach" (= striking) in gothic script.
Square horizontal case, made of copper and brass, and gilded on the outside only (there is no gilded band on the inside).
The band consists of four copper sheets brazed at the corners. The sides are strengthened by brass strips at top and bottom, and by brass corner-pieces; all these are riveted with brass rivets. The side on the back has a large rectangular aperture with a pierced brass hinged door, which presumably gave access to the alarm-mechanism; the copper sheet of this side consists of two portions, held together only by the brass strips. The right-hand side has a hole for releasing the striking at will.
The sides are engraved with hunting scenes; the brass strips and corner pieces with barleycorn ornament. The pierced door has a patern of strapwork.
The base of the case is a copper plate with on one side two brass studs that hook into the band, and on the oposite side a brass hinged bolt. Four brass bun feet are riveted to the base, which has three winding holes. The base is chased with a fishing scene.
Wooden box with hinged lid; the outside covered with red leather with simple gold tooling. Brass mounts. On the inside the case is lined with red wash-leather, except for the sides of the lid where marbled paper was used. The right side of the case has a hinged panel to reach the corresponding panel on the clock. The lid has a hinged and glazed brass bezzel. The bottom of the case, which is covered with plain leather, has four plain brass feet as well as three holes for winding the clock.
Brass dial-plate with applied copper dials and rings, and strengthened along the edges by brass strips. In the centre there are two cast ornaments with cherubs. All these parts are riveted to the plate. The brass plate is built up out of two portions, first connected by two riveted straps and then brazed.
There are four dials. On the right: a ring divided I- XII with full and half-hour marks and quarter-divisions, for the hours. Within this dial is the alarm-disc, marked 1 - 12 with half-hour marks, surrounded by touchknobs (that at 12 more prominent than the others) and centred by a sunburst. At the bottom is the dial for the quarter hours, marked I - IIII with half-quarter marks, and centred by a small landscape. On the left is the dial for the striking train, marked 1 - 12, surrounded by touch-knobs (that at 12 more prominent than the others) and centred by a landscape with a watermill. At the top is the dial for the weekdays, divied for the days (SOL.S.TAG, MONT.DAG., ZINST.DAG., MIT.WVGEN, DONST.DAG., FRIT.DAG. and SAMST.DAG.) and the planets (SOL, LVNNA, MARS, MERCVRI, IVPITER, VENVS and SATVRNVS, each with a star). In the corners of the dial plate are the four winds, and the edges have an ornament of ovals separated by simple strapwork. All the ornaments and scales are engraves, except for the cast cherubs in the centre and the text and stars of the top dial, which are punched.
The dial is secured to the movement by two feet, pinned to the front plate; two additional feet have been torn out.
Each dial has a blued steel hand (all later).
Movement and dial slide into the case from the top and are secured by two revolving brass latches on the back plate (one lug in the case broken).
The movement is constructed largely of brass and gilded all over, except for the dial side of the front plate and the centre portions of the movement-side of both plates. Four wheels of the under-dial work are of steel. There are four pillars of square section with round bases and capitels, riveted to the back plate and pinned under the dial.
The back-side of both plates have a double line engraved along the edges; on the edges of the back plate are similar lines. The pillars have a single line along the edges. The back plate is pierced with a simple ornament to let out the sound of the bell; this ornament is enhanced by engraved circles and punched quatrefoils. The holes for the winding squares and the barrel arbors are also circled, and the hole for the scape wheel is decoratively pierced.
The circles engraved on the dial-side of the front plate roughly correspond to the dials.
1 1 42 84 21 ║ 66 54 50
── ─ ── ── ── ║ ── ── ── 21 (x 2)
42 4 7 42 84 ║ 8 6 5
↓ ↓ ↓
week- minutes 12-hours
Barrel: one cap brazed, the other pinned over four studs. Raised centres to the caps (at the bottom of the barrel this is a ring riveted with three rivets). Spring later; outside hooked over a brass stud in the wall (original), inside hooked over steel stud in the arbor (the arbor retains traces of the slanted slot of the original hooking). Set-up wheel 8 ratchet teeth. Bow-and-arrow set-up between the plates (the the nose of the click has been shortened).
Conventional stopwork, but with spring attached to the stop.
Great wheel: reversed fusee. Split fusee of 8 turns, cut for gut; 17 ratchet teeth for winding, steel click-spring.
Potence riveted, counter potence screwed.
Balance and cock replaced; regulator missing.
The idler wheel of 42 drives a pinion of 7 for the quarters; this pinion carries a disc with a single tooth meshing with a starwheel of 4 (and another brass tooth to unlock the striking, the starwheel being advanced at approximately the same time that the striking is unlocked). The arbor of the starwheel has an endless screw driving the wheel for the weekdays.
The pinion-of-report of 21, the endless screw, and the single tooth that drives the starwheel of 4, are of brass; all other elements are of steel. The pinion-of-report and the week-day wheel incorporate friction-fit, so that the wheel can be adjusted on the arbor.
The hour-hand wheel of 84 has marks showing how it was divided (see Commentary).
19 ║ 60 48 42 36
── ║ ── ── ── ──
12-hour ← 78 ║ 10 6 6 6
Barrel: one cap brazed, the other pinned over four studs. The caps have raised centres; at the bottom of the barrel this is a ring riveted with three rivets. Spring not original; it is hooked on the outside on a brass stud in the wall; on the inside over a stud on the arbor (traces of the original slanted slot remain). Set-up bow-and-arrow (like going train); rathet wheel of 11.
Great wheel: split fusee (not reversed) of 8½ turns, 17 ratchet teeth for winding, brass click-spring (replacement). 19 lifting pins. The wheel has been recut to accomodate the new pinion it meshes with (see conversions). Hinged stopwork (spring replaced).
Second wheel: pinion originally 6; this has been turned down and the present pinion of 10 forced over (see Conversions).
4th wheel: stud for locking.
Fly: brass (not original).
Count wheel: internally cut steel band with raised brass crossings. The pinion-of-report is of steel.
Striking detends steel; long decorative brass gate (brazed) and brass overlift-arm. The indexing arm repaired with a copper piece. The bell is screwed to a steel strap which itself is screwed to the inside of the back plate: this is a repair, originally the bell was screwed directly to the plate. The hammer strikes the inside of the bell; the hammer-spring sits under the dial and doubles as friction-spring for the countwheel. Steel stop for the hammer.
Unwarned striking with overlift off the great wheel and locking on the 4th; random traincount.
The mechanism is missing. It consisted of a going barrel, intermediate wheel and scapewheel, striking on the inside of the bell. Only the counter potence of the scape wheel and the alarm disc under the dial remain.
The fact that the cock has been replaced and the regulator is lost strongly suggests that the clock has been converted to balance-spring, yet no clear traces of this remain (except possibly for the hole of the present banking-pin). Probably the spring was mounted above the balance and was, with its regulator, attached to the cock.
The evidence for the conversion in the striking train is clearer. Here the six-leaf pinion of the second wheel probably gave trouble when starting the train. The conversion was made by turning down the pinion (a small portion remains as a collet) and forcing a new pinion of 10 over it. The distance between the two wheels was not altered, and so the great wheel had to be re-cut, allowing the lifting-pins to come periliously close to the edge of the wheel. The re-attachment of the bell may be part of the same conversion.
A small section of the back plate, above the barrel of the striking train, has been roughly cut away; this was obviously done in order to reach the attachment of the gut, but it is not clear when.
Going train: great wheel - 1 rev. in 3 hours.
escapement - 10.395 beats per hour.
duration - 24 hours.
Striking train: great wheel - 1 rev. in 19 strokes.
duration - ca.162 strokes.
Clock: width - 122 mm.
depth - 124 mm.
height (without the hands) - 56 mm.
Movement: plates - 116 x 118 mm.
distance between the plates - 27 mm.
HISTORY AND PROVENANCE.
Octavius Morgan collection; it is not known when or where Morgan acquired the clock.
Octavius Morgan bequest; reg.1888,12-1,103.
This is an unconventional clock from an area in Switzerland not usually associated with clockmaking: only four pre-pendulum clocks from Bern are at present known to exist (see exh.cat.Bern  and the clock mentioned hereafter). The punchmark leaves no doubt as to the origin, since the arms of Bern are quite distinctive, and research by Mrs.Ursula Bischof Scherer, Bern, shows that the initials I G are those of Josua Grunner (1572-1640); born in Aarwangen he became a citizen of Bern in 1596 1). The small landscapes within the dials can be identified as views of Bern.
Technically the clock has some curious features. The general design leaves no doubt that it dates from well into the 17th century, yet hammer-lifting is performed by a large number of pins on the greatwheel (rather than by a smaller number on the next wheel): this reflects much earlier practice. Since the train is locked on the fourth wheel (as is usual) the locking arm is very long. The duration of exactly 24 hours (rather than ca.30) is short for the period. The drive for the weekdays is unusual, being advanced in steps once per hour on the hour. Another interesting feature is the hammer-spring, which doubles as friction spring for the count wheel.
In the striking train the hammer is positioned on the inside of the wheel; it is not separately cocked (as in nos ) and consequently difficult to mount.
The punched number 22 (ZZ) under the pinion of report indicate the number of teeth by which the main spring should be set up (see p. ).
Recently another clock by this maker has come to light. It is a miniature weight-driven wallclock dated 1628, having a brass case and a flat-frame movement made of steel 2). It has similar wheel-counts:
3 ║ 66 54 ..
── ║ ── ── ── ..(x2)
12-hour ← 48 ║ 6 6 ..
4 ║ 48 48 42
── ║ ── ── ──
12-hour ← 52 ║ 8 6 5
The present contrate and horizontal Great wheel: 6 lifting pins.
scape wheel brass and later; they
replace a vertical scape wheel.
1) Exhib.Cat Bern (1992) 11.
2) Uhrensammlung Kellenberger, Wintherthur (aquired in 2001). For the information concerning this clock I am grateful to Brigitte Vinzens.
Going - 17 x .2 mm (depth of barrel: 19.5 mm!)
Striking - 15.5 x .4 mm (depth of barrel: 18.5!)
The hour-wheel has scratch marks for dividing: check these and comment.
The bow-and-arrow in both trains is very tight (the wheels are overly large) and both set-up squares have been damaged.
BIBLIOGRAPHY (Pauline Wholey – 2019)
1) Bern 1992 - Vo Zyt zu Zyt, Bernische Uhren in Laufe der Jahrhunderte, U.Bischof Scherer, H.Scherer, eds., Schloss Jegenstorf 1992.
2) Postcards (1925) - British Museum, Set 77, Clocks from the 16th to the 18th Century ... 15 Pictorial Postcards (London? ca.1925). Envelope containing 6 pages of text and 15 postcards. There exist two issues; in the earlier one the postcards are slightly larger and they have no printed material on the back. NB: "No photographs seem to be available" (HJ [April 1923] 158).
3) Wayman (2000) - M.L.Wayman ed., The ferrous Metallurgy of early Clocks and Watches - Studies in post medieval Steel, British Museum, Occasional Paper 135 (London 2000). Contributers: P.T.Craddock, J.L.Evans, J.Lang, J.H.Leopold, M.L.Wayman.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1992 14 May-18 Oct, Switzerland, Bern, Castle Jegenstorf, Antike Uhren des Kantons Bern
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number