- Museum number
Miniature table clock; verge escapement; spring-driven; alarum and striking-train (hours only); going-train with fusee; enamelled silver-gilt case.
- Production date
Height: 6.50 centimetres
Width: 3.70 centimetres
Depth: 3.70 centimetres
- 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The following text is the entry for this object from the unpublished catalogue of pre-pendulum clocks by John Leopold, former Assistant Keeper of Horology at the Museum.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.
MINIATURE ENAMELED SQUARE VERTICAL TABLECLOCK.
Probably Augsburg, ca.1600.
AJ 18 (1861) 169.
PSA 2nd series 1 (1861) 416-7 (meeting of 20th June 1861).
Wood (1866) 85.
Tait (1968) 32, frontispiece, pl.24.
Maurice (1976) fig.451.
Jagger (1977) 89.
Brusa (1978) figs.179-180.
Ex.cat Augsburg (1980) no.828.
Tait (1983) 24-5.
Exhib. cat. Trier 1992 p.163 (the clock was not in the exhibition but was simply illustrated).
No signature or mark.
Constructed of silver, engraved, gilded and enameled. The base consists of five pieces, brazed together; it is secured to the movement by steel nuts on extensions of the movement pillars (one nut missing, one replaced in brass). The top is pinned to the movement by four feet; it has, at the corners, four gilded brass finial riveted to the plate.
The front and back panels of the case are held by lugs in the base and the top plate. The chapterrings and the raised rings that surround them are held by rivets, as are the profile bands at top and bottom. The side pannels are held friction-tight between the base and the top plate; the side-pillars and the profile bands at top and bottom are riveted to them. The right-hand pannel has a hole for winding the alarm and a smaller hole for releasing the striking.
The front pannel has the dials for the hours at the top and that for the quarters below it. The chapterring for the hours is marked I - XII; it surrounds the alarm disc which is marked 1 - 12. The alarm disc is of silvered brass and the firgures are filled with black wax (not enamel); it is fitted on a five sided boss and is probably original. The dial for the quarters is marked I - IIII with dots as half-quarter marks. - The back panel carries the dial for the striking train; it is marked 1 - 12. This panels has the winding holes for going and striking trains.
Of the top structure only the openwork base is original. It originally had two lugs which were pinned to the top plate; the present arrangement, with two screws, is later. The openwork base is now surmounted by a flat dome of engraved brass (soft-soldered in place but now detached), which has riveted to it a lute-playing puto for a finial (also detached). Dome and finial are 19th century but may well be of the correct shape (see commentary).
Base, vertical panels and side pillars are all decorated with cloisonné enamel. The base has a gadrooned border in light blue; the side pillars have ornaments in black and the pannels are decorated with hunting scenes with on the back Actaeon changing into a stag. These scenes are enameled in many colours: white, black, light green, light blue, brown and pink (opaque), and dark blue, dark green and yellow (transparent). In a few places there are two colours in a single cloisson.
All silver parts of the clock and the alrm disc are lightly gilded inside and out; this has been done electrically, presumably in the 19th century.
Posted frame movement: two brass plates connected at the corners by steel pillars. The pillars are of square section with moldings at top and bottom; both ends are screwed. The wheels are pivoted in three brass bars, and there is a separate brass bar for the alarm. All wheels made of steel, but the barrel walls, the fusee and the fly of brass. All brass parts are gilded (except the 2nd wheel going which is a replacement). There are many traces of high polish on the steel parts, and some (notably the bit of the stopwork) have been blued.
All train wheels have three crossings, except the great wheels and the 2nd wheel of the alarm which are solid, and the (not original) 2nd wheel of the going which has four crossings.
18 18 36 ┐
── ── ── │
quarters ← 18 18 18 ├ ║ 48 50 40
│ ║ ── ── ── 15 (x 2)
8 ┘ ║ 6 5 5
12-hour ← 48
Barrel: brass wall, steel caps, both riveted over three studs. The barrel wall was bent out of strip but not brazed at the join (see Commentary). Spring modern; blued, .15 x 4.5 mm. Outer end hooked over brass stad in the wall, but the caps have slots for the original cross-bar. Inner end now hooked over a stud on a brass mantle around the arbor, but the steel arbor retains the slanted slot for the original hooking. Set-up: ratchet wheel of 14, positioned between the barrel and the front bar, which has a hole to reach the click; under the dial the end of the arbor has a hole through it, showing that in the first design the set-up wheel was to be under the dial, in the space now occupied by the drive for the quarter hand. Conventional stopwork with steel stop piece (spring replaced).
Great wheel: double thickness of steel to sink the click and clickspring. Reversed split fusee with steel hook; brass fusee, 6 turns, re-cut for chain; 19 ratchet teeth for winding. Extended arbor to allow for winding from the back.
2nd wheel: the brass wheel and its arbor are replacements. The original wheel is more likely to have had 45 teeth.
Scape wheel: pivoted in the front bar and in a screwed 'potence' on the centre bar. The arbor now has a steel end-plate.
Escapement: bottom of the verge held by a screwed cock. There originally was a hog-bristle regulator, reached from the left. The original cock was screwed to the top plate of the movement. The present brass balance has a balance spring with a sliding regulator; its top pivot runs in a 'bridge cock' screwed to the silver top plate of the case (see Conversions).
Underdial work: the assembly 36/8 is mounted friction-tight on the great wheel arbor (there is a spring washer under it) and is secured by a brass nut. The first idler wheel is mounted, under a steel washer, on a stud on the front bar; it has a disk with a single tooth, for unlocking the striking, riveted to it (two brass rivets). The second idler and the wheel for the quarter hand are held by a steel bridge.
42 ┌ 45 40 36
── │ ── ── ──
6 ┤ 5 5 5
4 ║ ┘
12-hour ← 52 ║
Spring barrel: cased spring, the brass casing screwed to the back bar. Casing engraved with volutes. Spring probably original, blued, .2 x 3.2 mm. Outer end hooked into the wall with a rectangular steel hook; inner end hooked with a slanted slot.
Great wheel: double thickness of steel to sink the click and the clickspring. Split construction, 17 ratchet teeth for winding.
2nd wheel: 6 lifting pins. The pinion-of-report is a lantern cut into the end of the arbor.
4th wheel: single stud for locking.
Fly: heavy cylindrical brass fly.
Detends steel. Right-angle connection for the hammer. Bellstand screwed to the silver top plate of the movement.
Unwarned striking with overlift off the pinwheel and locking on the 4th wheel; random traincount.
The alarm is mounted on a separate, decoratively shaped and engraved brass bar, slotted into the top plate and secured to the bottom plate by two screws. The wheels are mounted in a C-clip, pinned to the bar.
── 9 (x 2)
Spring: open spring, blued, 1.9 x .2 mm (probably original). The outer end hooked around a stud; the inner end hooked into a slanted slot in the arbor.
Greatwheel: double thickness of steel to sink click and clickspring. Ratchet wheel of 12. The great wheel rides loosely on its arbor, being sandwiched between the thick portion at the centre of the spring and the ratchet wheel (which is pinned to the arbor).
Scape wheel: the front end is pivoted in an arm screwed to the bar.
The alarm is locked by a spring-loaded lever on the silver top plate of the case; to set the alarm this lever is cocked behind the unlocking detend behind the dial.
The clock has been converted to balance spring, which probably took place in the early 19th century; the other replacements probably date from the same time. Unusually the original scape wheel survived the conversion, but the 2nd wheel of the going train was replaced. A new and much stronger mainspring was fitted, and the conversion to chain was probably a consequence of this. The new balance with its regulator left insufficient room for a conventional cock screwed to the top plate of the movement, and so the present, rather unsatisfactory arrangement was devized, with a 'bridge cock' screwed to the top plate of the case. The construction, with a steel end-plate (cocqueret) looks French.
The case of the clock has been lightly guilded electrically. Gilding old silver objects was particularly popular in 19th century England. It is suggested that this may be a contribution of Octavius Morgan.
Going train: great wheel - 1 rev. in 2 hours.
escapement - 9600 beats per hour (with second wheel 45: 8640 beats per hour).
Duration - 12 hours.
Striking train: great wheel makes ca. 1.85 revs. in 12 hours.
Both trains wind counter-clockwise.
Movement: distance between the plates - 32 mm.
distance between the bars (going) - 9 mm; (striking) - 7.5 mm.
HISTORY AND PROVENANCE.
Octavius Morgan collection. Morgan showed this clock at the Archaeological Institute, London, on 1st March 1861, and at the Society of Antiquaries of London on 20th June 1861. He stated that it was "the smallest standing clock he had ever seen".
Octavius Morgan bequest; reg. 1888,12-1,130.
The two striking features of this clock are its diminutive size and the manner of its decoration.
Miniature tabernacle clocks are rare (for another one see CAI 2090), and this appears to be the most complicated one in existence: the three spring-driven trains have virtually the proportions of watchwork. It may be noted that such extreme miniaturisation poses extra problems: a small balance beats fast, and small wheels can only have a limited number of teeth. This means that a small clock like this one needs an extra wheel in the going train, thus adding to the problems. - The unusual construction of the spring barrel in the going train, with an open slot, may be due to the small size: brazing this was a delicate job and the construction was considered to be strong enough without it. It may be noted that the end of the spring, with the cross-bar, was placed at the slot, apparently in an attempt to prevent oil oozing out and dust getting in.
The silver case decorated with cloissoné enamel puts this clock in a small group of such objects made in Augsburg, and centred around the enameler David Altenstetter (died 1617). The most important objects decorated by Altenstetter are a silver clock of ca.1585 (Kunsthist. Museum Vienna, Kunstkammer) 1), and a silver-mounted gun with powderhorn of ca.1605-10 (Kunsthist.Museum Vienna, Waffensammlung) 2), both made for the Emperor Rudolf II and signed with Altenstetter's initials. It is a feature of his work that one cloisson may contain more than a single colour. The shaping of the cloissons on the BM clock, though of high qhality, is not quite as delicate as that of the signed Altenstetter pieces, but it clearly belongs to his school. Less ambitious enameled silver parts (notably dials and dial-centres) continued to be used on Augsburg clocks untill about the middle of the century.
1) Neumann (1961) 119-120; Maurice (1976) fig.188. This extraordinary clock, which Neumann has identified as the Emperor's personal clock, was in the past usually dated ca.1600; for the latest view see Exhib.cat. Vienna (1988) no.442. The movement of the Vienna clock is of the Metzger-type; it is largely made of brass but has steel under-dial wheels.
2) Exhib.cat. Vienna (1988) no.794.
4th wheel striking: counted several times.
Both pillars on the left can be removed without disassembling the frame.
Compare the gadrooned base with the gadrooned top of the Vienna clock.
Check the other small ones: V&A, Stuttgart
BIBLIOGRAPHY (Pauline Wholey – 2019)
AJ 18 (1861) 169.
PSA 2nd series 1 (1861) 416-7 (meeting of 20th June 1861).
Wood (1866) E.J.Wood, Curiosities of Clocks and Watches (London 1866).
Tait (1968) H.Tait, Clocks in the British Museum (London 1968).
Maurice (1976) K.Maurice, Die deutsche Räderuhr, 2 vols. (Munich 1976). Page numbers refer to vol.1, fig. numbers to vol.2.
Jagger (1977) C.Jagger, The World's great Clocks and Watches (London etc. 1977).
Brusa (1978) G.Brusa, L'Arte dell' Orologeria in Europa (Milan 1978).
Augsburg 1980 Welt im Umbruch, Stadt Augsburg, June September 1980.
Tait (1983) H.Tait, Clocks and Watches (London 1983).
Trier 1992 - C.Lehnert-Leven, Uhren in Trier, Geschichte, Gedichte, und Bestände des Museum Simeonstift Trier, exhib.cat. Museum Simeonstift, Trier 1992.
Text from 'Clocks', by David Thompson, London, 2004, p. 32.
Miniature silver and enamel cased table clock
Augsburg, c. 1580
Height 6.5 cm, width 3.7 cm, depth 3.7 cm
In 1861 Octavius Morgan described this clock as:
'A miniature standing clock in a form of square tower ornamented with pilasters at the corners supporting minute obelisks. The height of the clock is only one and three quarter inches and the width of each side one and one quarter inches. The case is of silver gilt enriched with enamel, representing hunting subjects with boars, stags and other animals. In the movement the wheels and pinions are of steel and the original balance wheel has not been replaced by a pendulum. It goes for 12 hours, strikes and has an alarm. Beneath the hour dial is a smaller circle with a hand to indicate the quarters. It is probably of German work and its date may be about 1600. It is the smallest standard clock I have met with and from its minute size and elegant ornament and condition is an object of much interest.'
This charming little clock has a silver-gilt case with four corner pillars topped by obelisk finials. At the top, a gallery surrounds the bell. Originally there would have been a top finial to add proportion to the overall design. The front, back and side panels are enamelled in colours and depict hunting scenes, a typical decoration on metal objects of late sixteenth-century southern Germany. This rare piece has been compared by earlier authors to a superb writing-box by Hans and Elias Lencker with similar scenes, finished in about 1585 and recorded in inventories of the Bavarian Wittelsbach family. A clock so exquisitely decorated would without doubt also have merited inclusion in a princely 'Kunstkammer'.
The movement has three gear trains for time indication, hour striking and alarm, arranged between brass plates within an iron frame with square-section iron corner pillars. The wheels are of iron, but the barrels and the fusee are brass, typical for clocks made in the late sixteenth century. There is a verge escapement controlled by a balance wheel housed in the upper part of the clock.
The clock has three dials, two on the front and one at the rear. On the front is the main dial showing the hours with a small subsidiary dial below to indicate the quarters. In the middle is a small dial for alarm setting with four small holes in it to aid turning. The rear dial indicates the last hour struck. Unfortunately none of the three hands is original. There are three winding squares, two at the front and one at the back, to allow this splendid little clock to be wound with a key.
Octavius Morgan bequest.
- On display (G38/dc4)
- Exhibition history
1980 28 Jun-28 Sep, Germany, Augsburg, Augsburg City Hall, Welt in Umbruch: Augsburg zwischen Renaissance und Barock
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number