- Museum number
Domestic iron clock; verge escapement with balance; weight-driven; striking mechanism (now incomplete) sounding the hours and half-hours; formerly fitted with alarum mechanism (now missing); painted iron dial-plate includes aperture indicating phases of moon.
Gt wheel 48
2nd wheel 48/8
Crown wheel 21/6
Gt wheel 48
2nd wheel 42/6
Pin wheel 30/6
Gt wheel has extended arbor with pinion of 4 driving hour-wheel of 45. Hour wheel carries pinion of 6 which drives intermediate lunar wheel of 50 whose pinion of 5 drives lunar wheel/disc of 59.
- Production date
Height: 15 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- The following text is the entry for this object from the unpublished catalogue of pre-pendulum clocks by John Leopold, former Assistant Keeper of Horology at the Museum.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.
GOTHIC CLOCK BY ULRICH AND ANDREAS LIECHTI, WINTERTHUR 1599.
12 hour strike and half hours in passing.
-Ilbert No. 313 Q: ex Mrs. Symonds per R.R.S. 1948.
Exhib.cat. London 1958 no.14.
Cat.Ilbert (1958) no.282.
Dawson etc. (1958) 162.
Schenk (1959) 35.
Tait (1968) 23 4, pl.12.
Duley (1969) 87, 90.
Schenk 2 (1970) 54.
Duley (1976) 777, 782 784 (detailed description, which however gives the
scapewheel as 23 and the second wheel of the striking as 44: both are
Abeler (1977) 394.
Jagger (1977) 73.
Smith (1979) 305.
Tait (1983) 13 4.
Tardy (1984) 15.
Stipple engraved on both sides of the bottom ring of the frame:
"1.5.VA*L.9.9". This is the characteristic signature of Ulrich and Andreas Liechti, Winterthur. The year is repeated in the painting of the dial.
Iron plate, rectanglular with arched top, crowned by three round finials. The centre has a large circular aperture for the dial wheel; in the top portion there is an aperture to show the phases of the moon. Some of the original paintwork is still present; it shows, on a red background, two brown pilaster at the sides picked out in white. The chapterring is black bordered by two white circles; it is divided I XII with simple half hour marks. In the red corners under the chapterring there are traces of the date 15 99. The lunar dial is black surrounded by a stylized wavy ribbon in white (to similate clouds); the disc has two moons in gold. The dial wheel is painted red with a gold starburst.
The back of the dial is not painted.
The dial is attached to the front bar of the movement by two sprung hooks at the top and an inverted rigid hook at the bottom.
The dial wheel has twelve holes for the peg of the alarum. The hand is a replacement
Posted frame movement constructed entirely of steel. Classic "gothic" construction: the diagonally placed pillars are hooked into the bottom ring, locked into the upright position by the top ring, which in turn is locked in pos1tion by the sprung ends of the spider (the pillars and the rings have count marks). The rings were forged out of strip and brazed at the join. The centre bar rests in a hole in the bottom cross piece and is held upright by the top cross piece; the front and back bars hook into the bottom ring and are pinned to the top cross piece, thus securing the frame (even when the spider is removed). In the front left hand corner there is a screw to additionally secure the frame (probably an early repair).
The pillars have butresses and ball finials; the butresses are drilled but not slotted. The spider has a similar finial and simple strapwork at the centre; sprider and bell are both replacements. The sides of the bottom ring of the frame carries the signature (see above), the top ring has in the same positions stipple engraved tendrels. There are a few traces of tinning (notably on the pulleys), and the many markings with copper brazing suggest that the entire clock originally was tinned (see commentary).
All pivot holes of the going train are bushed in brass, those of the striking and the alarum are plain steel (the holes for the fly have been bushed in steel). All wheels have four crossings, forged into the band. All wheel teeth are individually marked.
5 (5) 4 ║ 48 48
── ── ── ║ ── ── 21 (x 2)
59 50 48 ║ 8 6
Great wheel: one crossing has the pin for unlocking, and almost exactly oposite the band has a pin for the half hour strike-in-passing. Pinion of report is a lantern of 4 cut into the end of the arbor. The puley is secured by a spring washer and there is no sign of a different previous construction. Clickwheel of 4. The pivot hole has a massive bush to fill the original angled part of the hole, which used to be like the corresponding hole in the striking train (the train is now difficult to disassemble).
The cut balance, which has a simple decoration of double engraved lines, and its staff, which has turned ornamental rings, are thought to be original (see below). The lifting lever for the staf is missing.
There is a large repair to the front hole for the greatwheel pivot, which will originally have been like that of the striking train (q.v.).
Under dial work.
The dial wheel is mounted on a pipe, which carries the hand friction tight, and ends in a lantern of 6 to drive the lunar train. Wheel, pipe and hand are incorrect replacements: with this type of unlocking the hand should be rigedly mounted on its arbor. The number of teeth for the wheel is correct, but the lantern should be 5 to produce a correct lunation. The wheel runs on a post riveted to the front bar; the post is partly recessed to allow clearance for the intermediate wheel.
The intermediate wheel of 50 is mounted on a post riveted to the dial; the moon wheel runs in a hole in the dial and is kept in position by a bridge which is held by a clip on one side and is pinned in position at the other.
4 ║ 48 42 30
── ║ ── ── ──
countwheel ← 78 ║ 6 6 6
Greatwheel: 8 lifting pins; pinion of report cut into the end of the arbor. The back pivot runs in the original hole, which is champhered at the outside top to facilitate assembling and disassembling (the bar has to be angled out). The front pivot rests on a dovetailed brass block.
Second wheel: single cam, mounted on a sleeve (with marks for correct assembly).
Third wheel: stud on the band for locking.
Outside fly: arbor only, fly missing.
Countwheel: internally cut wheel with raised crossings.
There originally was a hammer on each side: that on the left for the hour strike, that on the right to be lifted out by the going train to strike the half hour in passing. Both hammers are missing, as are the striking detends. There are two flat springs riveted to the bottom ring of the frame to load the missing hammers.
Unwarned striking, with unlocking by nag's head through the pin on the greatwheel, overlift by the cam on the second wheel, and locking by the stud on the third wheel.
The alarum mechanism is mostly missing. It consisted of a single wheel, mounted at the top of the front bar, where the supports for the wheel and for the hammer are still present (these holes are not bushed). The unlocking detend is missing (it was pivoted on a stud on the front bar). The locking lever takes the form of a flat spring riveted to the top of the top cross piece; its end protrudes through a hole in the dial, where a notch (now worn away) would retain it in either up or down position.
Going train: greatwheel 1 rev. per hour.
escapement 2016 beats per hour.
lunation (with driving pinion 5 rather than 6) 29½ days.
Striking train: greatwheel 19½ rev. in 24 hours.
The greatwheel of the going train revolves anti-clockwise, that of the striking clockwise.
There is no evidence that this clock was ever converted.
Height 372 mm
Depth (total) 120 mm
Distance of feet: depth (right) 148 mm, (left) 152 mm
width (front) 146 mm, (back) 149 mm
Movement: distance between bars, going train 61 mm
striking train 51 mm
distance between the rings of the frame 150 mm
Ilbert collection. According to Ilbert's ledger (no. 313 Q) he acquired the clock in 1948 from a Mrs. Symonds "per R.R.S.". There is no explanation for the initials (which do not occur anywhere else in the ledgers) unless they are a mistake for R.W.S., which could mean Robert W.Symonds, the Tompion expert. It may be noted that Symonds dedicated his History of English Clocks (1947) to "C.A.I." who can only have been C.A.Ilbert.
Presented by Mr.Gilbert Edgar C.B.E. in 1958; reg. CAI 2138.
This way of signing, with initials, a star, and the date, is characteristic for the Liechti family of Winterthur; Schenk (2  24) has shown that the star was taken from the family arms. For this clock compare 1954,11-5,1. Ulrich (1562 1621) and Andreas I (died 1627) were sons of Erhard Liechti, and at the latter's death in 1591 they jointly continued the workshop, a partnership which lasted until 1599 or shortly afterwards (the present clock is the last one known by the two brothers together). However even during the period of the partnership one occasionally finds clocks with the initials of only one brother. Their domestic clocks are very similar to those of the father, but there is a slight difference in quality and care of finish: it may be noted that the present clocks lacks the register marks in the trains and that the frame is not quite square. The main difference between the clocks of the father and those of the sons is in the butresses of the pillars: Erhard drilled and slotted these, Ulrich and Andreas only drilled them. The last recorded clock by Ulrich is dated 1601, the last one by Andreas 1608 (Schenk 2  53).
The Liechti's habitually tinned their clocks (Schenk  43).
BIBLIOGRAPHY (Pauline Wholey – 2019)
London 1958 Pendulum to Atom, Goldsmiths Hall, London, 1958. For this exhib. see: HJ 100 no.1199 (August 1958) 491; HJ 100 no.1202 (November 1958) 711 718; HJ 100 no.1203 (December 1958) 816 820 (tribute to Coole at the end).
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.
Schenk (1959) A.Schenk, Die Uhrmacher von Winterthur und ihre Werke (Winterthur 1959).
Tait (1968) H.Tait, Clocks in the British Museum (London 1968).
Duley (1969) A.J.Duley, 'The Liechtis of Winterthur, clockmakers for three centuries', AH 6 No. 2 (March 1969) 83 90. Largely based on Schenk (1959).
Duley (1976) A.J.Duley, `Liechti Clocks in British Museums', AH 9 No. 7 (June 1976) 777 784.
Abeler (1977) - J.Abeler, Meister der Uhrmacherkunst (Wuppertal 1977).
Ackermann (1984) - H.C.Ackermann, Die Uhrensammlung Nathan-Rupp im Historischen Museum Basel (München 1984).
Jagger (1977) C.Jagger, The World's great Clocks and Watches (London etc. 1977).
Tait (1983) H.Tait, Clocks and Watches (London 1983).
Tardy (1984) Tardy, Les plus belles pendules Suisses (Paris 1984).
- On display (G38/dc1)
- 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.2138 (Ilbert Collection)
Previous owner/ex-collection number: Q313 (Ilbert Ledger)