- Museum number
Free-standing; tabernacle pillar clock; verge escapement with balance; weight-driven; alarum and striking-trains (hours and quarters); engraved gilt-brass case with two silver dials, lower dial indicates the quarters and the upper dial indicates the hours; in centre of upper dial is a gilt-brass dial for the setting of the alarum.
Gt wheel 72
2nd wheel 60/9
Crown wheel 15/6 (modern replacement)
Gt wheel with friction tight wheel of 24 to "minute" wheel of 12, and pinion of 12 to hour wheel of 72.
Gt wheel 65 with pinion of 5 to count-wheel of 48
2nd wheel 50/10
3rd wheel 45/6
Gt wheel 60
2nd wheel 56/6
3rd wheel 40/7
- Production date
Height: 11 inches
- 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- The following text is the entry for this object from the unpublished catalogue of pre-pendulum clocks by John Leopold, former Assistant Keeper of Horology at the Museum.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.
WEIGHT-DRIVEN TABERNACLE CLOCK, South German.
Ilbert No. 133 F: ex H.Armstrong, 193.(?). This is clearly Harry Amstrong, 322 King's Road, Chelsea (BADA in 1932).
Rhodes (1954) 42 (is it? if not remove from bibl.).
Cat.Ilbert (1958) no.259.
Dawson etc. (1958) 163.
No signature or mark. On the back of the dial plate there are two indistinct, scratched inscriptions, which seem to read "Zeuse" and "1 2 f o". Scratched on the pieces holding the hammersprings and the tops of the hammers: "V"(iertel) and "S"(tunden); the letters repeated on the top plate. The flies in the two trains are similarly marked.
Case and dials.
The case, which is largely made of gilded brass, consists of the base, the four vertical panels (dial plate, back plate and two doors), and the top structure.
The base is screwed to the extended movement-pillars with two steel nuts and two brass ones (the latter replacements). It was raised up from a sheet of copper, and lightly chased with an ornament of strapwork and fruit against a matted background; the matting was produced with a holow punch. The base is gilded on the visible surfaces only; it has holes for letting through the cords of the trains, a rectangular aperture to give space to the nag's head, and three unused holes which may refer to earlier dispositions of the alarm-cord. At some time the back corners of the base were cropped.
The dial plate is held in position by two lugs at top and bottom, which are retained in slots in the base and the top plate. The plate is made of brass and is ornamented similarly to the base, with strapwork and draperies. The plate is gilded on the visible surface only. Two profile rings are riveted to the plate: the lower one secures the silver quarter-dial, the upper one surrounds (but no longer secures) the silver hour-dial, which is held by three screws (now riveted).
The two doors are brass plates, held in position by extensions that fit into holes in base and top plate. The doors, which are gilded on both sides, are ornamented similar to the base, with strapwork, fruit and draperies. The latches, which are integral with the springs, are riveted to the inside. The latches lift to open; they lock on studs riveted to the dial plate.
The back plate, of brass and gilded on both sides, is fitted like the dial plate. Like the others this is a cast plate, but it is a modern replacement (it is considerably heavier than the doors). Its ornament was copied after that of the left door.
The top structure consists of the top plate, two drums to hold the bells, and the top ornament. All these parts are of brass, gilded on the visible surfaces only.
The top plate is pinned to the movement by three feet. The plate, which has been hammered to accomodate the subsequent pendulum, carries the elastic locking-piece for the alarm. Four turned finials are screwed to the corners.
Screwed to the top plate is the larger drum, for the full-hour bell. The drum consists of an openwork gallery with simple engraved ornament, with a profile ring as base and topped by a disc. The entire piece was cast in two halves and brazed together. The bell is secured by a steel screw (later) with a brass stirup-nut. Six turned finials are screwed around the top of the drum.
Screwed to the top of the larger drum is a smaller one, similarly constructed, and containing the smaller bell (here the original screw, without slot, survives). A large turned top-ornament, also cast in two halves, is screwed to the top of this smaller drum; the ornament is surrounded by six turned finials and topped by a bigger one (all the finials are screwed).
The dials are mounted on the dial plate. The main dial consists of a silver chapterring, engraved I - XII with simple half-hour marks, and 13 -24; the engraving has black wax filling. In the centre is an aperture to take the gilded brass alram disc Underneath this dial is the smaller one for the quarters, also of silver and marked I - IIII, with black wax filling. Both dials have steel hands (both replacements), the larger one being centred by a screwed brass disc, marked 1 - 12 with a rose as ornament.
Posted frame movement, constructed almost entirely of gilded brass. Two square plates connected at the corners by simple pillars of square section; the pillars are screwed at top and bottom with steel nuts. The tops of the pillars at front-left and rear-right are fitted in slots so that they can be removed without dismantling the frame. All train-wheels have three crossings except the scape wheel in the going train and the wheel of the alarm, which have four (both these wheels are replacements).
As usual in such clocks the quarter striking train is positioned between the going and the hour striking trains; its countwheel is mounted on the great wheel.
The train has been re-bushed with large bushes; that for the scape wheel (dial side) runs in a brass bush which itself sits in a large copper one.
── ├ ║ 72 60
12 hours ← 72 │ ║ ── ── 15 (x 2)
│ ║ 9 6
quarters ← 12
Great wheel: steel click and clickspring (riveted). Steel cordwheel, one side cut with 14 ratchet teeth for winding; cordwheel held by a ring washer, with extra groove for a longer pipe (cordwheel replaced).
2nd wheel: the pinion of 9 forced over the remain of the old one, which had 6 leaves.
Scape wheel: replaced, though the arbor may be old. Potence, verge-support, staff and balance (copper rim, brass arm) all restored. The balance now banks on steel wires held by the top front nuts of the movement.
In the underdial work the sandwich 12/24 is mounted on a square steel bush with a round hole, which is friction-tight on the arbor (there is a brass spring-washer). The quarters-wheel of 12 is retained by a steel cock with brass bush. All underdial wheels brass.
Quarter striking train.
countwheel 60 56 40
── ── ──
6 7 6
Great wheel: steel click and clickspring (riveted). Steel cordwheel, one side cut with 13 ratchet teeth for winding; cordwheel held by a ring washer. 20 lifting pins. Steel countwheel riveted to four lifting pins, which are extended for the purpose; two lifting pins extended to unlock the hour striking.
2nd wheel: brass double cam for indexing.
3rd wheel: brass stud for locking.
Heavy brass fly; arbor and pinion replaced (original presumably 5).
Brass detends; there is a separate unlocking detend hinged to the main assembly. Indexing arm repaired. Brass hammer arbor and connecting piece. The upper hole for the hammer arbor sits in a separate plate, screwed to the top plate; this extra-plate also carries the hammer spring. The hammer strikes the bell on the outside.
Unwarned striking with hammer lifting off the great wheel, indexing and overlift on the 2nd and locking on the 3rd wheel.
Hour striking train.
8 ║ 65 60 45
── ║ ── ── ──
countwheel 48 ║ 10 6 5
Great wheel: steel click and clickspring (riveted). Steel cordwheel, one side cut with 13 ratchet teeth for winding; cordwheel held by a ring washer, click much worn. 13 lifting pins.
2nd wheel: brass double disc for indexing.
3rd wheel: brass stud for locking.
Heavy brass fly.
Pinion of report: steel pinion, loose on a sqare on the arbor. Countwheel: brass disc and wheel, retained by a steel spring (spring later).
Brass detend (with large casting flaw), hammer arbor and connecting piece. The upper hole for the hammer arbor sits in a separate plate, screwed to the top plate; this extra-plate also carries the hammer spring. The hammer strikes the bell on the inside.
Unwarned striking with hammer lifting off the great wheel, indexing on the 2nd wheel and locking on the 3rd (no overlift required). The train is unlocked by two pins on the countwheel of the quarter striking train.
The train consists of a single wheel in a separate, screwed frame, screwed to the top plate of the movement.
11 (x 2)
Steel clickspring, acting as its own click, riveted to the band of the wheel. Brass cordwheel, one side cut with 26 ratchet teeth for winding. The construction of the wheel similar to that of the greatwheels in the other trains. Brass unlocking arm. Nearly all the moving parts of the alarm are restorations; original are the frame, the sprung locking-piece on the top plate of the case, and the steel unlocking piece on the hour-hand arbor.
A hammered portion and holes in the top plate of the case (which has distorted the plate badly) and more holes in the top plate of the movement show clearly that the clock has been converted to a small pendulum swinging in front of the dial. The construction was the conventional one: the original scape wheel was replaced by a contrate wheel and a new scapewheel placed in the position of the original verge.
Ilbert's ledger describes the clock as having a "pendulum in front", so most likely it was he who commissioned the re-conversion to balance wheel. The conversion is not particularly good: the balance (with copper ring) is not poised, and the two banking pins, which are secured by the top nuts of the frame, clearly do not belong to the original design.
It is not certain when the other restorations took place: these include the new alarm wheel and the vertical backplate of the clock. Particularly the latter was carefully executed, probably for an earlier collector or dealer, and possibly as late as the 1930's
Curiously the Christie catalogue (Cat.Ilbert  no.259) still describes the clock as having a pendulum, although by this time it had certainly been re-converted: it entered the museum with the present balance.
Going train: greatwheel - 1 rev. in 2 hours.
escapement - 1200 beats per hour (with 2nd pinion 6 - 1800 b.p.h.).
Quarter striking: great wheel - 6 revs. in 12 hours.
Full hour striking: great wheel - 6 revs. in 12 hours.
The great wheels of going and full-hour striking revolve counter-clockwise, that of the quarter striking clockwise.
Clock: hight - 288 mm
width - 134 mm
depth - 133 mm
Movement: distance between the plates - 99 mm
distance between the bars, going train - 21 mm
quarter striking train - 19 mm
full hour striking train - 18 mm
HISTORY AND PROVENANCE.
Ilbert collection, Ilbert's ledger 133 F: bought from H.Armstrong (undoubtedly the antique dealer Harry Amstrong, 322 King's Road, Chelsea). The date of the purchase is not idicated, but the clock appears to be one of a group acquired in the '30-s. There is a pencil note "Morning Room". It has already been noted that Ilbert had the clock re-converted to balance (see Conversions).
Presented by Mr.Gilbert Edgar C.B.E. in 1958; reg. CAI 2092.
Particularly noticable about the case of this clock is the absence of corner pillars on what is essentially a tabernacle clock; this, as well as the prolific use of brass in the movement show that this is in fact a fairly late clock, dating from about the second quarter or middle of the 17th century. That is also consistent with the style of the top. Originally there probably was a plain back panel, possibly a steel sheet.
This clock belongs to the small group which have the weights of all three trains decending at exactly the same rate. Why this elegant system, which demands a lifting wheel with 13 hammer lifting pins, was used so rarely, is not clear.
Three holes in the base and the lower plate of the movement unaccounted for (already noted by Ilbert): perhaps due to changes in the alarm?
One of the feet of the top plate (case) has to be pinned from behind: this clock was defenitely meant to be taken apart by undoing the base first.
All wheels squared onto their arbors.
Cordwheel full hours has weeping of red brazing.
The present cock does not even have a steady pin.
Register marks to get the top together correctly.
BIBLIOGRAPHY (Pauline Wholey – 2019)
Rhodes (1954) G.Rhodes, `Early Alarm Clocks, Invention of monastic craftsmen', AD (June 1954) 42 44.
Ilbert (1958) Auction cat. coll. Courtenay A. Ilbert, London, Christie, 6 7 November 1958.
Dawson etc. (1958) P.G.Dawson, C.B.Drover, H.Quill, R.K.Foulkes, M.Hurst, L.Hurst, F.H.Knowles Brown & C.Clutton, `The Ilbert Collection of Clocks & Watches', AH 2 No.9 (December 1958) 161 178.
- Not on display
- Latest: 2 (Oct 2015)
- Acquisition date
- 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.NL1Ilbert'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.
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Previous owner/ex-collection number: CAI.2092 (Ilbert Collection)
Previous owner/ex-collection number: F133 (Ilbert Ledger)