- Museum number
- Object: Mulberry Tompion
Long-case clock; one-month duration movement; anchor escapement and 'bolt-and-shutter' maintaining power; striking-train with count-wheel (hours only); dial with circular silvered-metal chapter-ring and subsidiary seconds rings; calendar aperture on gilt matted ground; gilt-brass spandrels pierced and finely chased with bearded masks, interlaced scrolling stems and foliage; enclosed in architectural oak case finely veneered with acid-treated burr maple wood and inlaid with ebonised stringing; sliding hood with plain turned columns at angles; moulded metal-gilt capitals and bases; domed top with two mock fretwork borders surmounted by five chased ormolu flaming vase finials.
Gt wheel 84
2nd wheel 72/14
4th wheel 56/8
Escape wheel 30/7
Gt wheel 104
2nd wheel 72/8
3rd wheel 72/6
4th wheel 54/6
Date pinion 24
Date wheel 48
- Production date
Height: 8.16 feet
- Curator's comments
2008/AUG -. worm damage waxed in on left side of case does not pass through inlaid stringing [PB]
Text from 'Clocks', by David Thompson, London, 2004, p. 90.
Longcase clock, 'The Mulberry'
London, c. 1701
Height 247 cm, width 49 cm, depth 23.5 cm
John Stalker and George Parker, 'A Treatise of Japanning and Varnishing', 1688:
"To stain a fine yellow - Take Burr or knotty Ash, or any other wood that is white, curled and knotty; smooth and rush it well, and having warmed it, with a brush dipt in Aqua fortis wash over the wood and hold it to the fire, as you do Japan-work until it leaves smoaking: when dry rush it again, for the Aqua fortis will make it very rough. If to these you add a polish, and varnish it with Seed-lacc, and then again polish it, you'l find no outlandish wood surpass it. . ."
This month-going clock is housed in a beautiful 'mulberry-wood' case of the finest proportions, made using wood with extremely fine figures which create a superbly warm and sumptuous effect. The clock has been known for many years as 'The Mulberry Tompion' and was long thought to have been made from that wood. However, research shows that it is a burr wood, probably maple treated with nitric acid followed by linseed oil and lampblack to bring out the figures in the grain. That such a treatment was known at the turn of the eighteenth century is confirmed by Stalker and Parker's description of the process above.
The well-made, substantial movement has five pillars secured by latches. The anchor escapement is controlled by a seconds-beating pendulum and the hour-striking mechanism has a count-wheel mounted on the outside of the back plate. There is also a bolt-and-shutter maintaining-power mechanism which keeps the clock going whilst it is being wound.
The immaculate dial has a finely matted centre with a chapter ring for hours and minutes and a subsidiary dial above the centre for seconds in the normal fashion. The movement is numbered 371 and a case has the number 19: by these numbers it can be dated to about 1701-02.
The case is of particularly fine proportions with a door at the front to allow access for winding. The hood is enhanced by plain columns with gilded-brass capitals and bases, and there are finely pierced fretwork panels which allow the sound of the bell to escape. To give the clock an even grander appearance there are five large gilded 'flaming vase' finials at the top. The overall effect of this most elegant of clocks with such a superb case is quite stunning and the fine proportions of the clock would have made it eminently suitable for a grandly furnished room in any stately house in England at the beginning of the eighteenth century. In 1701, such a clock would have cost about £20. In that year a bill to the Honourable Robert Harley Esq. from Thomas Tompion lists a 'month clock in an extraordinary case' at £17 10s.
- On display (G39/od)
- 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.
Ilbert'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.2131 (Ilbert Collection)
Previous owner/ex-collection number: Q329 (Ilbert Ledger)