- Museum number
Horizontal table clock; spring-driven with fusee; verge escapement with foliot; count-wheel striking for hours only, driven by going-barrel; bell positioned between plates; octagonal dial with silver twenty-four hour chapter-ring; silver and blued steel shutters and central gilded twenty-four hour disc showing Nuremberg hours; provision for clock-maker to adjust mechanism for use in different latitudes; octagonal gilded-brass case with two facets pierced, others engraved; engraved base with aperture for subsidiary dial mounted on back-plate; dial engraved with signs and degrees of zodiac and a calendar.
- 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- The following text is the entry for this object from the unpublished catalogue of pre-pendulum clocks by John Leopold, former Assistant Keeper of Horology at the Museum.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.
OCTAGONAL HORIZONTAL TABLECLOCK.
Probably Flemish, 3rd quarter 16th century.
The engraving on the base is very similar to engravings by Jacques Androuet Du Cerceau (compare Byrne  35).
Britten 0 (1894) 40-42.
Britten 1 (1899) 74-6.
Britten 2 (1904) 94-9.
Britten 3 (1911) 94-7.
Britten 5 (1922) 94-7.
Britten 6 (1932) 100-107.
Britten 3 2 (1977) 90.
Purchased from Mr.Charles Shapland, £ 31 10 (with a ref. to Britten 0 ).
No signature or mark. On the inside of the base, scratched: "I 960" (the I is doubtful).
Octagonal case, made of brass gilded on the outside and the visible portion of the inside. The band consists of two strips, bent into shape and brazed together (at 5 and 11). Around the top of the band is a profile ring (built up out of eight brazed portions) which is pinned to the band so that on the inside a shoulder is formed on which the dial rests.
Two panels of the band are pierced with a pattern of strap-work, the others are engraved with strap-work and simple mauresques. The engraving covers a number of filled holes, which show that this was originally a more plainly decorated monstrance-clock (see Conversions). The top of the profile ring has a finely engraved pattern of leaves.
The base consists of an octagonal plate brazed to a profile ring, itself built up out of brazed portions. The base is friction-tight to the band; it has a large aperture for the calendar-dial and two winding holes. The base is gilded inside and out; on the inside it is engraved with concentric circles, on the outside with a pattern of mauresques.
The inside of the case has two short guiding ridges.
There are two dials: the main dial-assembly and a subsidiary annual dial mounted on the back plate of the movement.
The main dial-assembly is carried by an octagonal brass plate, which is pinned to the movement by means of pipes that fit over the ends of the movement-pillars. Seven of the pipes, which are riveted to the plate, are replaced: only the one at 10 o'clock, which is partly gilded, is original. To this octagonal plate a secondary dial plate of brass is riveted; it has a large aperture in the centre, thus creating a circular recess in the middle of the assembly. The secondary plate has a profile ring riveted to its outer edge; this ring consists of eight portions brazed together. The visible portions of the two pates are gilded.
The recess holds the shutters for day and night, which consist of the conventional combination of a sector of silver (for the day-hours) and another one of blued steel (for the night hours), the latter with a small gilded brass disc riveted to its centre. Both sectors comprise the space of 20 hours and are marked 1 - 19; the disc is divided in 24 parts marked 1 - 24. In combination with the hour hand the shutters allow the time to be read according to the Nuremberg system (count starting at sunset and again at sunrise); the disc at the centre gives the Italian hours (count starting at sunset only). The shutters are held in position by a brass ring, pinned into place and partly covered by the chapter ring; the visible portion of the ring is engraved with a stylized rope-border and its top surface is gilded. The silver chapter ring is divided twice I - XII with small half-hour marks; it is secured by a profile ring, gilded on the outside, and fixed by eight feet pinned through the dial-assembly. The space between the ring and the border of the dial is engraved with simple Mauresque ornament.
Under the chapter ring the brass plate is lightly engraved with a scale divided in 48 by alternating long and short lines (probably to serve as aid when adjusting the indication for the length of day). On the back of the brass plate are scribe marks for a wheel roughly corresponding with the pinion-of-report.
The steel hand is a restoration.
The annual dial on the back of the clock is made of brass, gilded on the visible portions only. It consists of an engraved ring pinned inside a shallow cylinder. The cylinder has three hooked feet which attach the dial to the movement by means of a bayonet-fit; there is a steel latch to lock the bayonet in position.
The ring is engraved with a scale for the Signs of the Zodiac (each second degree marked) surrounded by a scale for the date (each second day marked); 1. Aries = 21 March. This ring is thought to be an early replacement, see Commentary.
The hand of the annual dial is of gilded brass; it has a leading edge to indicate on both scales simultaneously. At the centre there is a small engraved silver disc.
Octagonal plated movement; eight turned pillars (one at each corner) riveted to the back plate and pinned under the dial. Plates and pillars are gilded on all sides. All moving parts of the movement are of steel, except for the spring barrels, the fusee and the stop-work. All train wheels have four crossings except the great wheel of the striking, which is solid.
Movement and dial slide into the case from the top and are secured by two brass revolving latches on the back plate.
3 4 12 ║ 48 42 36 30
── ── ── ║ ── ── ── ── 11 (x 2)
73 60 72 ║ 6 6 6 6
Barrel: unusually large for the size of the great wheel. The barrel is of gilded brass; one cap brazed, the other dovetailed. The outer end of the spring is secured by a cross-bar that fits into apertures in cap and wheel; the inner end is riveted to the arbor. Blued spring, Measurements of the spring: 12 x .5 mm (depth of the barrel 13.5 mm. Spring repaired by dove-tailing. Set-up wheel of 16 teeth.
Great wheel: brass fusee, cut for gut, 8 turns, 8 ratchet teeth for winding. The gut lead form the fusee to the barrel on the inside of the movement. Conventional stop-work with brass stop; spring incorporated in the stop
Potence pinned to the inside of the plate; counter potence riveted. Escape wheel with short arbor.
Dumb-bell balance with riveted brass weights; both arms repaired. The balance is not original. Cock repaired.
The pinion-of-report, which is of brass (12), drives the 24-hour wheel (72); this wheel is friction-tight on its arbor, which carries the star of 24 for unlocking the striking. The hour-wheel arbor has cut into the end of its arbor a lantern of 4, which drives between the plates a wheel of 60; this wheel has cut into the end of its arbor a lantern of 3 driving the annual wheel. The annual wheel is also friction-tight on its arbor, which carries (on the back plate) the hand for the dial and (under the dial) a disc with a pivoted segment which carries the eccentric pin; the segment is adjustable in four positions.
The eccentric pin is connected, via a curved arm, to a double curved rack pivoted in the plates of the movement; the curved racks act on the two wheels that carry the shutters for day and night. The curved arm is loosely riveted to the segment (a brass rivet which act as the eccentric pin) but pinned to the rack (probably replacing the earlier rivet). Each rack has 12 teeth; the wheels for the shutters each have 24 teeth.
In the double rack the hole for the curved arm has been shifted and the previous hole neatly filled. The teeth of the outer rack are individually marked; on each rack and on each shutter-wheel one tooth has been marked for easy assembly.
The segment with the eccentric pin is adjustable to four positions, corresponding to an annual motion of each shutter-wheel by (approximately) 3, 4, 5 and 6 teeth. This causes an annual variation in length of day of 6, 8, 10 and 12 hours, corresponding to Latitudes 41, 49, 54 and 58. The latitude is not indicated on any dial and could be adjusted only by a clockmaker.
48 ┌ 48 48 48
── │ ── ── ──
6 ┤ 6 6 4
8 ║ ┘
12-hour ← 78 ║
Great wheel: going barrel, steel wheel, gilded brass wall and plain brass cap. The cap is dovetailed. The outer end of the spring is secured by a cross-bar that fits into apertures in cap and wheel; the inner end is riveted to the arbor. The arbor is held into position by a friction-tight ring between the wheel and the plate. Blued spring, measurements: .4 x 9.5 mm (depth of the barrel: 10.5 mm). Spring repaired by dove-tailing.
The teeth of the wheel are individually marked. Ratchet wheel of 8 for winding.
Second wheel: 8 lifting pins. The end of the arbor carries the pinion-of-report (8).
Third wheel: steel wheel with single brass hoop for locking.
Fourth wheel: pin on one of the crossings for warning.
Fly: brass, four wings.
Count-wheel: steel wheel, brass ring.
Rough-cast bell (probably not original) between the plates, both of which have sound-apertures.
Unlocking detent under the dial, warning/locking detent between the plates.
Warned striking with hammer lifting off the second wheel, locking on the third and warning on the fourth.
Going train: great wheel - 1 rev. in 4 hours.
escapement - 9,240 beats per hour.
duration - 32 hours.
Striking train: in 24 hours the great wheel makes ca.2½ revs.
Both trains wind counter-clockwise.
HISTORY AND PROVENANCE.
First recorded in 1894 by F.J.Britten, who saw the clock with its then owner, Charles Shapland, at 207 High Holborn, London.
In the same year purchased by the museum from Mr.Shapland for £ 31 10 (30 guineas); reg. 1894,2-15,1.
Diameter - 151 mm.
Height - 44 mm.
Movement: distance between the plates - 17.5 mm.
The case and the dial of this clock show traces of conversions, which apparently took place at a very early stage, possibly during manufacture.
In the dial-plate there are four holes which are now covered by the ring with the rope-border. They now serve no purpose and seem to belong to a different, discarded construction in the dial-centre. It may be noted that the piercing of the back plate suggests the annual wheel to be part of the original design, so there will always have been some sort of indication for the length of day (though not necessarily by the present, rather Germanic shutters). The scribe marks on the back of the dial may refer to this earlier dial arrangement.
The filled holes in the band of the case are in the panels opposite the pierced ones and the panel between. In the middle panel there is a large filled hole surrounded by four smaller ones; the other two panels have one filled hole each. They show that in the first conception the clock was meant to be vertical, being either suspended from a wall or supported by a stand. The position of the escape wheel (which has to sit on its back pivot to prevent it from sliding into the verge) shows that the filled holes were at the bottom of the clock, and are therefore traces of the foot of what will have been a small mirror clock 2). The filled holes are covered by the engraving of the panels, which is (near-)contemporary to the rest of the work, so that the change apparently took place at a very early stage, possibly in the original workshop.
Further evidence of conversion is the engraved disc of the annual dial. The position of the first point in is engraved for the Gregorian (New Style) calendar
The engraving of the sides is not after Virgil Solis.
For similar engraving in the "spandrels", as well as "pleated" pierced ornament, see the Flemish clock in the V.& A. (notes P.G.C.).
For the thick "twisted rope"-border see vert. clock signed Gillebert Martinot à Paris of ca.1580 (Gélis  145-151; cat. Toulouse  no.3); cyl. clock with alarum-attachment by N.Plantard of Abbeville, Newark (Winthrop  nos.5-8); cylinder clock with alarum attachment by N.Plantard of Abbeville, La Chaux-de-Fonds (Cat.  11 no.142; Cardinal [1987-8] no.30). This last clock, engraved with the arms of de Monmorency, also has strap-work ornamentation. However, for a Germanic example of twisted rope see no. (CAI 2154).
There is gilding inside the slots for the attachment of the annual dial. The recessed bit in its back clears the rivet of the stud for attaching the bell. The style of the engraving of the annual dial looks English, but it is in Latin and is N.S.: Flemish ca.1590 and part of the conversion from monstrance?
Fusee of brass with brass nose.
Striking barrel: wall brazed from strip and brazed to steel wheel (both silver brazing). Going barrel constructed similarly. Both barrels have bright red deposit on the inside of the wall. Both springs expand little and seem original, although very regular.
The teeth of the 3rd wheel going are chamfered.
The latitudes to which the mechanism for the length of day can be adjusted, correspond to the Climata 5, 7, 9 and 11 (not usually given).
The arabesque engraving on the base is of a characteristic design, with slightly oval spirals, which appears to be French in origin. There are similar designs by Jaques Anrouet Ducerceau of ca.1540 (Berliner 2  nos.456-8), by Jean de Gourmont of 1546 (Berliner 2  nos.421-2), and by Bernard Salomon (many of the margins in his edition of Ovid's Metamorphoses [first ed. Lyon 15.. 2)). Close parallels are also in an untitled design book, published Zürich 1549 by Rudolf Wyssenbach. The main portion of this book is taken up by woodcuts of Peter Flötner, but the origin of the more graceful arabesque designs is disputed; they have been ascribed to both Hans Rudolf Manuel Deutsch (died 1571, Berliner 2  p.63) and Jaques Androuet Ducerceau (Byrne  35).
1) The pierced panels apparently faced upwards, so that they would catch dust. However this does not appear to have bothered the Flemish makers: a small mirror clock signed "Vallin" (presumably by Jean Vallin of Brussels, see p. ) has the entire band of the case pierced (coll.the Marquess of Bute, Mount Stuart, Isle of Bute; unpublished). Presumably such openwork parts of the case originally were covered on the inside with silk or similar fabric.
2) For the reference to Bernard Salomon I am indebted to Clare Vincent, MMA.
The train counts are related to 1888,12-1,169.
BIBLIOGRAPHY (Pauline Wholey – 2019)
Britten 0 (1894) F.J.Britten, Former Clock & Watchmakers and their Work (London 1894).
Britten 1 (1899) - F.J.Britten, Old Clocks and Watches and their Makers (London 1899).
Britten 2 (1904) - F.J.Britten, Old Clocks and Watches & their Makers (London 1904).
Britten 3 (1911) F.J.Britten, Old Clocks and Watches & their Makers (London 1911).
Britten 4 (1919) - F.J.Britten, Old Clocks & their Makers (London 1919). The author died 1913; this 4th edition (as well as the 5th and 6th) were edited by his daughter Annie M.Britten. Owing to post-war conditions the 4th edition was much reduced.
Britten 5 (1922) - F.J.Britten, Old Clocks and Watches & their Makers (London s.d.).
Britten 6 (1932) F.J.Britten, Old Clocks and Watches and their Makers (London 1932). See previous edition.
Britten 3 2 (1977) The Antique Collector's Club edition of Old Clocks and Watches & their Makers (revised ed. of Britten 3, Woodbridge 1977).
- Not on display
- Latest: 3 (Aug 2015)
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number