- Museum number
Horizontal table clock; transitional movement with one plate of steel, the other of brass, and with striking train of steel and going train of brass (with exception of escape wheel); spring-driven; going train with fusee and later balance; striking train with standing barrel; count-wheel for hours only; bell housed between plates; dial engraved with chapters I-XII, 13-24 and with border of animals, gilding now removed; hexagonal gilded-brass case with
pierced roundels to allow sound of bell to escape.
- Production date
- 1606 (?)
Width: 5.50 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- The following text is the entry for this object from the unpublished catalogue of pre-pendulum clocks by John Leopold, former Assistant Keeper of Horology at the Museum.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.
HEXAGONAL HORIZONTAL TABLE CLOCK, MARKED ML 1603(?).
Ilbert No. 331 P: ex Gardner (Hamilton Lister) 3 May 1936.
Cat.Ilbert (1958) no.256.
Abeler (1977) 394 (tentatively ascribed to Melchior Lienhard, Nuremberg;
Abeler reads the date as 1606 and adds "Würzburg" for which there is no apparent reason.
On the backplate of the movement marked, with separate punches, "M L 1603" (the date partly oblitterated, see Commentary).
On the inside of the base plate, in ink, the Ilbert number "331 P"
On the back of the dial, scratched: "H 4/22".
Hexagonal; made of brass, gilded on the outside and parts of the inside.
The band consists of two halves, each bent into shape and dove tailed and brazed together. At top and bottom a profiled rim is attached by means of two rivets on each side; the rims are each built up out of six cast strips brazed together. The sides of the case are plain except for two decoratively pierced round sound openings. The top and bottom of the rims are engraved with a rope patern. One of the sides has been lightly hammered out to accomodate the later chain. There are no guiding ridges.
Plain hexagonal base plate with six flat bun feet, fastened by two lugs at one edge and a steel spring catch at the other; the catch has a knob similar to the feet. Spring and knob now riveted in place (originally screwed). The two winding holes are later (or were later enlarged). The inside has a small circle scrathed through the gilding and a roughly filed slot which may have something to do with the later latch. The plate has been lightly hammered to bend it outwards, in order to accomodate the later balance spring conversion.
Twelve hour dial marked I XII and 13 24, with half hours and quarters marked. Around the chapterring twelve touch knobs (that at XII larger than the others). Within the chapterring a band with leafy ornament and five animals (unicorn, lion, deer and two dogs), surrounding a narrow band with leafy ornament, centred by a nine pettaled flower (similar ornaments on the countwheel, see MOVEMENT). The spandrels have feathery ornaments.
The back of the dial is silvered (no traces left on the front.) The back carries a repair inscription: AC 4/92
Steel hand. The hand has been twisted and the main portion has been broken, was then repaired and has broken off again at the repair. The present long portion is actually the back extension. The square of the wheel has two holes for the pin, making it unlikely that the present hand is original.
Movement and dial slide into the case from the top. There is one latch to hold the movement in the case; it is later but occupies aproximately the position of the original one (which was probably a firmly screwed stop). At the opposite side of the movement there appears to have been a screwed on stop (scewhole now empty) The case has two corresponding slots.
Brass backplate with five plain square brass pillars, pinned under the dial (one pillar end broken). The backplate is gilded on the outside only, and is engraved with a double line along the edge and around the countwheel and the wheel for the stopwork; in addition it has a "star" starting from the balance staff and an engraved scale for the hog bristle regulator.
Steel frontplate; all pivots run in brass bushes, except that of the hammer and the brass pivot of the dialwheel which run in unlined holes. All parts under the dial are of steel, except the dialwheel, the bar that carries the pivots of the second and contratewheels of the going train, the spring for the striking levers, and the hinged part of the nag's head and it's spring, which are of brass.
All wheels have three crossings except the greatwheels, which are solid.
Both mainsprings are considerably later.
All wheels steel except greatwheel, second and contrate wheels and dial wheel, which are of brass. Second and contrate are replacements, but the other brass wheels are original.
20 ║ 56 60 50
── ║ ── ── ── 17 (x2)
12 hours ← 60 ║ 6 6 5
Spring barrel with steel bottom (riveted) and brass wall and cap (pinned). Spring replaced; its outer end hooked into the barrel; inner end hooked over a stud on the arbor, which retains the slot for the original hooking. Set up clickwheel of 9 under the dial.
Split fusee of 7 turns, re cut for chain; brass click spring (now repaired in steel); steel click wheel of 15. The chain is screwed to the fusee and hooked into the cap of the barrel.
Geared stopwork on the back plate: wheel of 50 teeth + a double tooth originally driven by a pinion on the winding square, which has a hole for the pin to secure it (missing pinion: 7). The stopwork wheel has a pierced and engraved gilt brass cover.
The second wheel and the pinion of the third are sunk into the front plate; their pivots are carried by a brass bridge screwed to the plate.
Band of the scapewheel bent out of strip and brazed; this wheel has a brass collet.
Potence and counter potence both brass and screwed; cock replaced (see conversions).
Dial wheel friction tight on its arbor which carries the steel starwheel of 12 to release the striking.
All wheels steel except greatwheel, which is of brass.
56 ┌ 48 45 36
── │ ── ── ──
8 ┤ 6 5 4
4 ║ ┘
countwheel ← 52 ║
Cased spring, hooked (half width) through a slot in the wall; inside end hooked over a stud on the arbor. The present spring is modern.
Greatwheel with split arbor; the arbor has a lengthwise slot to take the hooked end of the original spring and a stud to take the present one. Brass click spring; steel click wheel of 14. There appears to have been geared stopwork, but all that is now left is an unused screw; the winding square does not have a pinhole (see commentary).
Second wheel: 6 hammer lifting pins.
Fourth wheel: stud near arbor for locking.
Fly with heavy brass cylinder.
Countwheel gilt brass, engraved with two sea creatures. The screwhole for this wheel has been repaired in that a piece of brass with a threaded hole was let into the plate from the inside.
Hammer positioned near the centre of the movement, with steel stop.
Striking levers steel, with brass nag's head and spring.
Bell between the plates; it is screwed to the front plate.
Un warned striking with overlift off the pin wheel and random locking.
Great wheel: 1 rev. in 2 hours.
Escapement: now 15,866 2/3 beats per hour; with second wheel pinion 8 (see CONVERSIONS): 11,900 beats per hour.
Duration: 14 hours.
Total: hight 53 mm (without hand)
width 138 mm.
Movement: width 125 mm
distance between plates 23 mm
The clock has been converted to balance spring: the backplate shows the charateristic round scratches of the regulator and there are two screwholes (one with the screw still in place) for the slide. At the same time the hog bristle regulator and the original cock were discarded. The present cock, which is 3rd quarter of the 17th century, may be part of this conversion. Most likely at the same time the second and contrate wheels in the going train, which will have been of steel, were replaced; the pinion of the second wheel was changed from the original 8 (compare striking train) to 6 in order to increase the number of beats per hour. The weight of the fly, which has engaved circles similar to those of the contrate, was probably fitted at the same time. The conversion from gut to chain, and the oblitteration of the date, probably also formed part of this general modernization.
The clock has since been re converted to pre balance spring conditions, with a new balance and regulator. The winding squares have been re finished.
There can be little doubt about the date. All the figures have been roughly drilled out, but there is sufficient evidence of the 1 and the 6 left. The very absense of traces in the third place suggests a 0, and the fourth place has at the top traces of a horizontal line indicating a 3.
The identity of the maker is not clear. In a somewhat confused paragraph Abeler (1977) 394, 404 tentatively identifies the initials as Melchior Lienhard, who became a Citizen in Nuremberg in 1598 1), but the present clock is the only source he quotes. It would be surprising to find a tableclock with a duration of only half a day produced in one of the South German centres as late as this, and an origin perhaps more towards the East would appear likely. In fact Siedlecka, describing another clock by this maker, also hexagonal but dated 1619 (Muzeum Narodowe, Poznan), confidently places the maker in Poznan, although she gives no specific reasons 2). A square clock by this maker, dated 1618, is in the Newark Museum; this has a movement made almost entirely of steel, with a brass overlay for the back-plate 3), which also would be old-fashioned for one of the main centres. A fourth clock, dated 1608, is in a private collection 4). None of these clocks yields a hint about the place of production.
The backplate shows clear evidence of a sliding regulator for a balance spring. The present hog bristle regulator is a restoration. The cock, although utizing the original holes, is later than the clock. Its neck has not been heightened, yet the baseplate of the clock has been lightly hammered to accomodate a cock with a higher table. The character of the engraving of the cock does not match that of the other ornaments.
Geared stopwork in combination with a fusee is rare at this period. It is interesting to note that the 1608 clock mentioned above also has this construction (the 1618-one has conventional stopwork). The geared stopwork for the striking train involved a much smaller wheel than that of the going: for the 78 strokes of the 12 hours the greatwheel makes less than 2 turns.
The twisted-rope ornament is more common on French work, see no. .
1) For Melchior Lienhard see Maurice  299.
2) Siedlecka (1976) 70, fig.16. See also Abeler (1977) 404; the watch quoted there is marked ML with a "Hausmarke", and is considerably earlier than the clocks (Cat. Feill  no.3). Why Abeler states that the BM clock is from Würzburg is not clear.
3) Winthrop (1968) no.10.
Going: 17 turns, 15.5 mm x 0.3 mm.
Striking: 13 turns, 12.5 mm x 0.3 mm.
The wall of this barrel has a shallow slot under the wheel.
Write to Poznan when there are pictures.
Check the materials of the plates of all four clocks.
Compare the square clock of 1613, brass and steel plates, marked SL in shield (Ackermann  no.36): member of the same family?
BIBLIOGRAPHY (Pauline Wholey – 2019)
Ilbert (1958) Auction cat. coll. Courtenay A. Ilbert, London, Christie, 6 7 November 1958.
Abeler (1977) - J.Abeler, Meister der Uhrmacherkunst (Wuppertal 1977).
- Not on display
- Latest: 3 (Aug 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.2154 (Ilbert Collection)
Previous owner/ex-collection number: P331 (Ilbert Ledger)