- Museum number
Horizontal table clock; spring-driven; going train with fusee; verge escapement with foliot; restored striking train with standing barrel; annular count-wheel for hours only; bell positioned beneath dial; gilded brass dial, centre possibly original; unequal hours; later outer twenty-four hour chapter-ring, engraved 1-12, 1-12; later blued steel hand; gilded brass case engraved with deities for the days of the week and a pierced band; engraving upon base centred by lion rampant within shield.
- 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- The following text is the entry for this object from the unpublished catalogue of pre-pendulum clocks by John Leopold, former Assistant Keeper of Horology at the Museum.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.
ROUND HORIZONTAL CLOCK, prob. Czech, ca.1580.
Formerly with alarm, now replaced by 12-hour striking.
Pearson (1979) 11.
No signature or makers mark. The back of the dial and the dial-side of the front plate both bear the engraved inscription: "Le Rois Paris". On the overlift-disc are the remains of what appears to be the engraved number "776". All these inscription are 19th century.
Made of brass, gilded on the outside only.
The band was made of sheet, bent in the required shape and brazed at the join. Around the top edge of the band a profiled ring was riveted; this ring was also bent out of strip and brazed at the joint. The upper edge of the ring, surrounding the dial, has an engraved circle and is marked with 24 small rings (this division in 24 may have inspired the design of the present dial, see Conversions). A notch in this ring indicates the original position of XII.
Along the top edge the case has a row of ornamental openings to let out the sound of the bell. The rest of the case is engraved with the figures of the Planets, standing in arcades with ornamental pillars, and with landscapes in the background. They are each individually named, going counter-clockwise from the original XII (see above): SOL, VENVS, MERCVRIVS, LVNA, SATVRNVS, IVPITER, and MARS.
There are two guiding-ridges for the movement. Movement and dial slide into the case from the top and are locked by revolving latches. There is now an additional stop on the inside of the band to prevent the movement form sliding in too far.
The base of the clock is made out of a flat disc sunk and brazed into a profiled ring; the ring was bent out of strip and brazed at the join.
The base is friction-tight to the band of the case. It is engraved on the outside with a coat-of-arms (a lion rampant) on a shaded circular background; this is surrounded by a thick barley-corn border, a plain band, and a band of Mauresque ornament. The ungilded inside of the base has around the centre remains of two lightly engraved circles.
The present dial and hand are a restoration. The dial is fixed to the movement by three long feet pinned to the front plate. The outer part of the dial consists of a ring marked 1 - 24 with small stars as half-hour marks; soldered within this ring is a disc with lines for the planetary hours and straight lines at 2-hour intervals, surrounded by a band divided in periods of 20 minutes. Such a dial would need a hand with a straight leading edge divided for the year (compare no. ). The present steel hand has no such provisions.
The 24 small rings engraved on the top surface of the band of the case suggest that the original dial was divided for 24 hours, probably marked with arabic numerals for the bohemian hours (see Comentary).
Plated movement, constructed of steel except for some parts in the striking train. Three ornamented pillars, riveted to the back plate and pinned under the dial. The back plate has an ornamental hole to inspect the state of winding. There are two revolving latches to secure the movement in the case.
The bell is mounted between the front plate and the dial; it is mounted on a bell-stand screwed to the front plate of the movement (one foot of the bell-stand now missing).
All train-wheels have three crossings of unusual shapes. In the going train all arbors are now pivoted in brass bushes, except the barrel. In the striking train all arbors are also pivoted in brass, except the dial-side of the barrel and the back pivot of the fly. The fly is pivoted in blind holes.
7 ║ 60 54 45
── ║ ── ── ── 15 (x 2)
24-hours ← 64 ║ 6 6 5
Great wheel: split fusee of 9 turns; 31 ratchet teeth for winding. Pinion-of-report brass and later; it is squared to the arbor.
Barrel: wall bent and brazed, one cap riveted over five studs. The other cap was originally also fixed over five studs, which may originally have been pinned. Two of the studs have been lost and were replaced by a single one. Spring later; it is hooked into a round hole in the wall and hooks over a stud on the arbor (there are traces of an earlier slanted slot).
Contrate: the pinion squared on to the arbor. This is a repair: there are remains of the original pinion, also of 6.
Dialwheel: friction-tight on the arbor, which carries the 24-hour starwheel.
54 ┌ 50 45 35
── │ ── ── ──
6 ┤ 5 5 6
6 ║ ┘
12-hours ← 78 ║
Greatwheel: made out of a double thickness of the metal to sink the clickwork. Split arbor. Brass clickspring; ratchet wheel of 15. Arbor slotted to take the hooked inside end of the spring; subsequently a hook was brazed into the arbor to take the present spring (this part of the arbor may be original). Cased spring with massive brass wall (replacement, probably contemporary with the spring).
Second wheel: 6 lifting pins. This wheel has been broken and was repaired by doubling the crossings on both sides, so that there now is a sandwich of three thicknesses. The arbor of this wheel projecs through both plates: on the back-side to drive the recessed countring, on the dial-side to carry the brass overlift-disc.
Fourth wheel: stud near the arbor for locking.
Fly: steel fly (the arbor later). This arbor is pivoted in blind holes.
Countwheel: brass ring, internally geared.
The hammer-arbor is pivoted in a separate cock on the inside of the front plate. The spring of the hammer is one of the movement-pins, greatly extended. Detends steel, and loaded with a small flat spring. The unlocking arm is a replacement. Bell riveted (this is a repair) to the bridge-shaped bell-stand, which is screwed to the front plate (one end broken off).
Unwarned striking with overlift off the lifting wheel (second wheel) and locking on the fourth wheel. Random wheelcount for lifting wheel.
The main conversion this clock has undergone took place in the 17th century, when the original alraum train was modified to become an hour-striking train. There are several indications for this.
The main clue is in the strange proportions of the striking train, which occupies far less space than the generously proportioned going train. The striking train, moreover, has several brass parts (the original movement was entirely of steel) and is of the late variety, with random count for the lifting wheel (p. ). And, finally, there are a number of empty holes which can be explained by assuming the presence of a simple alarm train. A few parts of the original train seem to have survived. Half of the great wheel arbor, with the winding square and the ratchet wheel, appears to be original. The arbor of the detends has been modified but originally appears to have been the sliding locking-piece for the alarm (the slot for the spring is still present); the small arm on the backplate, which now secures the count-ring, was probably originally the locking piece to keep the sliding bar in the locked position. For some similar clocks which retain the alarm train see Commentary.
The restoration in the 19th century (presumably executed by or for Lerois of Paris) was chiefly concerned with the dial: the original dial had by then probably been lost. It is assumed that the 24 small marks on the outer edge of the top of the case inspired the 24-hour dial, and that the drive for the hand was modified accordingly.
It should be mentioned that in spite of the extensive conversions this clock has undergone the going train has suffered remarkably little: even the 'scape wheel survives in original condition.
Great wheel - 1 rev. in ca. 2.6 hours.
Escapement - ca. 9257 beats per hour.
Duration - ca. 23½ hours.
NB: since both the dial and the drive for the hand have been modified these figures are probably far removed from the original. A 12-hour dial and a pinion-of-report of 16 (see Commentary) yield the following results:
Great wheel - 1 rev. in 3 hours.
Escapement - 8100 beats per hour.
Duration - 27 hours.
Clock: diameter - 117 mm
height (without the central arbor) - 82 mm
Movement: diameter - 107 mm
distance between the plates - 37 mm
PROVENANCE AND HISTORY.
Octavius Morgan collection; it is not known when or where Morgan acquired the clock. Among Morgan's papers is a rubbing of the dial of this clock, which suggests that he was puzzled by it, and therefore probably did not design it himself. The inscription suggests that the dial was made, and the clock generally restored, by Le Rois of Paris; no firm of that name has been traced, but see no. which carries the 19th century inscription "LEROY A PARIS".
The arms on the base are too generally applicable to allow identification.
The planets, when taken in counter-clockwise order, are in the sequence of the planetary hours (see introduction, p. ). The figures of the planets (not the backgrounds or the arcaded surrounds) are after an undated print by Virgil Solis (O'Dell-Franke  e 65, two versions).
The striking train is unusual in the method of obtaining overlift. Apparently it was felt that there was insufficient space between the plates to producing this off the lifting pins and so a brass disc with inclined "teeth" was mounted on the end of the second wheel arbor. A further unusual feature is the number of teeth on the lifting wheel, for which see introduction p. .
This arrangement of the movement, with the bell between the movement and the dial within a simple cylindrical or hexagonal case, is found in a number of clocks, sometimes combined with a 24-hour dial of the type associated with Bohemian hours (see no. ); all these clocks appear to have the ornamental peekhole to inspect the state of winding. A good example is an alarm clock in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg (Maurice  fig.499). This clock, which retains its traveling case, is engraved on the base with the arms of ....., the initials HT N (...) and the date 1584; these are surrounded by four empty shields, one of which has subsequently been engraved with the arms of the Kaler family of Nuremberg. This clock is unusual in that the rings of the dial are fixed; the outer ring for Bohemian hours was read by a hand that was friction-tight on the single now remaining hand.
The closest paralel to the present clock is one that was formerly in the Time Museum, Rockford, Ill. 1), which also has the case engraved with the planets (after the same models). It has a similar bell and inspection hole, and retains the original steel frame to hold the dial. This clock has also been subject to changes, but it apparently always had a 12-hour dial. The train-count of the going train is remarkably similar to the present one:
16 ║ 60 54 45
── ║ ── ── ── 21 (x 2)
12-hours ← 64 ║ 6 6 6
The fusee has 8 turns; the contrate and scape wheels and the pinion-of-report are replacements. There is a similar inspection hole for the state of winding. The crossings of the train-wheels are shaped similar to those in the present clock. The Rockford clock still has its alarm-train, consisting of a going barrel and a 'scape wheel; traincount:
── 15 (x 2)
The scape wheel of the alarm train is mounted on the inside of the back plate; it is suggested that the present clock originally had a similar alarm-train.
1) Formerly # 1871. Cat. Christie's, Geneva, 20 Nov. 1979 lot 33; cat. Sotheby's, Geneva, 14 Nov.1989 lot 2.
Going train: 18.5 x .25 mm (depth of barrel - 23 mm). Spring hooked through round hole in the wall; inner end hooked over a stud riveted throught the arbor; a faint trace of the slanted slot still visible.
Striking train: 16.5 x .4 mm. Both ends hooked over steel studs; on the central arbor this is a replacement (the slot is still present).
Individual marking of teeth: possibly on 2nd wheel; if so very thoroughly scrubbed.
Traces of red brazing (barrel wall, fixing of greatwheel on its arbor, locking lever on the arbor).
The rubbing is in Ar.5.
Check the direction of the dial on the movement: can it be made to check with the notch?
Discuss the peephole: this appears to be chzeck (a.o. also Pipa (1966) 38, 40.
BIBLIOGRAPHY (Pauline Wholey – 2019)
Pearson (1979) - M.Pearson, The Beauty of Clocks (New Malden, Surrey, 1979).
- Not on display
- Latest: 3 (Aug 2015)
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number