- Museum number
Table clock; verge escapement with balance (later converted to pendulum); spring-driven; striking-train (hours only); alarum mechanism on side of movement; mainsprings enclosed in barrels below the main frame; top of case and dial are fixed onto the movement, which is slipped into the case from above; gilt-metal 'slip' case engraved with three scenes from the Life of Christ.
- 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- The following text is the entry for this object from the unpublished catalogue of pre-pendulum clocks by John Leopold, former Assistant Keeper of Horology at the Museum.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.
TABERNACLE CLOCK WITH SLIP CASE AND SUB STAGE MOVEMENT.
Ascribed to Steffen Brenner, the case probably by Johan Sibe, both of Copenhagen, 3rd quarter 16th century.
Purchased from Mr.T.Beyer, Zurich, Switzerland, £ 2,800.00 (20,900 Sw.Fr.).
AH 8 No.6 (March 1974) 573.
Tait (1983) 22 3.
Wayman (2000) 63-64, fig.4.10-14 (analysis of the three manin springs).
No signature or mark.
Case and dial.
Slip-case, constructed of brass and gilded on the outside only. The vertical sides of the case were made out of sheet, bent into shape and brazed at the join. The separately cast corner pillars were riveted to the sides, as was the molding at top, bottom and lower centre; the corresponding bits of moulding on the pillars were brazed to the pillars. The flared portion of the base appears to be cast and brazed to the base plate; this assembly was then rivited to the sides by means of eight studs on the sides projecting through holes in the base plate.
The larger panels of the sides are engraved with representations of the Nativity, the Crucifixion and the Resurection; the smaller ones below them with Mauresque ornaments. The corner pillars and the flared portion of the base are engraved with accanthus leaves.
The top plate of the case is a separate piece, pinned to the top plate of the movement by four feet. It is engraved with a patern of accanthus leaves. - The bell and any top-ornament are missing and so are the corner finials, of which only one fraction remains.
The dial is pinned to the movement by three feet. It consists of a brass plate, to which the chapterring and an open-work engraved ornamental plate have been screwed. The chapterring is divided I - XII with simple half-hour marks surrounding a quarter division. The assembly has no traces of gilding or silvering.
The present dial-assembly and the steel hand replace the original ones, which will have been smaller. The only original portion of the dial is the alarm setting disc, which is of gilded brass; it is divided 1 - 12 and has at the centre a simple Mauresque ornament related to that of the lower portions of the case.
Posted frame movment with sub-stage spring barrels for going and striking. The movement is constructed almost entirely of steel. Two (roughly) rectangular plates separated by four decorative baluster pillars, screwed at top and bottom (three steel nuts and four brass ones, the latter probably replacements; one nut missing). The top of the right-hand front pillar has been twisted by 90. Decoratively shaped and pierced bars, the front and back ones with sideways extensions at the bottom to stabilize the movement when outside the case.
All wheels now run in brass bushes, except the back of the spring barrel and both pivots of the scape wheel (going train), both pivots of the spring barrel
(striking train), and both pivots of the barrel and the front pivot of the scape wheel (alarm train). All train wheels have three crossings except the great wheel of the alarm which is solid; all original train wheels are champhered on the inside of the band and have champhered crossings, except the band of the scape wheel of the alarm.
10 ║ 56 48 48 40
── ║ ── ── ── ── 13 (x 2)
12-hour ← 48 ║ 8 6 8 11
The train is a replacement, except for the fusee, the spring-barrel with its arbour and clickwheel, and the wheel for the hour hand. The replaced wheels are of brass.
Spring barrel: one cap brazed, the other riveted over four studs. Spring later; blued, 14.0 x .3 mm. The outer end of the spring is hooked over a brass hook in the barrel, but barrel and cap have holes for the original hooking by cross-bar. The inner end is hooked on a brass hook which is part of a brass mantle around the arbour; the arbor retains the slanted slot of the original hooking. The stopwork, which is pinned to the centre bar, has a hinged piece of brass (replacement).
Great wheel: split fusee of steel, 11 turns, partly re-cut for chain; 20 ratchet teeth for winding; steel nose. Reversed fusee. Brass click spring, steel click. Fusee much repaired with copper brazing.
Second wheel: this wheel was originally planted slightly more towards the centre, which resulted in an extra (bushed) hole in the centre bar and a half-hole in the front bar (running into the hole for the hour hand wheel).
Escapement: there used to be a hog-bristle regulator, operated from the right (where there is a gap in the plate). There now is a short pendulum in front of the dial (most of the pendulum broken off). Pendulum and verge are held by a steel piece screwed to the top plate of the movement, with a brass cock at the back. Much of the assembly is hidden by a brass cover screwed to the top plate of the case.
Hour-hand wheel: friction-tight on its arbor, which carries the star for unlocking the striking. The brass pipe for the alarm setting disc moves around the arbor; this part, which is now seized up, is probably later. The entire assembly is held in place by a brass cock (later).
48 ┌ 48 48 48
── │ ── ── ──
12 ┤ 8 6 6
3 ║ ┘
12-hour ← 39 ║
Barrel: one cap brazed (yellow brazing), the other riveted over four studs. Original spring, not blued and fairly irregular in width: 12.0-12.5 x .4 mm. Outer end hooked by a crossbar (brass bar riveted by a brass rivet). Inner end hooked on a brass hook which is part of a brass mantle around the arbour; the arbor retains the slanted slot of the original hooking. Conventional stopwork.
Great wheel: split fusee, 6½ turns, 20 ratchet teeth for winding, brass nose (replacement). Reversed fusee.
Second wheel: 6 lifting pins. The pinion-of-report is a lantern of 3 cut into the end of the decoratively turned arbor.
Third wheel: single disc for overlift.
Fourth wheel: pin for locking. This wheel projects through an aperture in the top plate of the movement; the back pivot now runs in a raised bush.
Fly: steel arbor, brass fly. Entire assembly is a replacement.
Countwheel: brass disc (repaired), steel wheel. Several unused holes in the wheel show that the disc is not original.
Steel detends; the arbor has a (later) bass ornament, and the indexing arm is now loaded by a brass spring. Right-angle connection for the hammer. Hammer brass (replaced); bellstand and bell missing (the stand was pinned to a steel stud riveted to the top plate of the case).
Unwarned striking with overlift off the third wheel and locking on the fourth wheel.
── 9 (x 2)
The train is contained in a separate frame screwed to the bottom plate of the movement.
Great wheel: going barrel. The barrel has a slightly domed cap, which is brazed to the band; this assembly is riveted to the wheel by four studs. Cap and wheel have holes for the original hooking by cross-bar; the present, later, spring has a loop at the outer end which engages a separate bar for hooking. The inner end of the spring now hooked over a stud; there remains a trace of the original slanted slot. Clickwheel: 9 teeth.
Verge and hammer missing.
The clock has undergone extensive alterations, which were probably all executed at the same time, in ca.1700.
The most damaging of the alterations was the fitting of a new dial; not only did this materially alter the appearance of the clock, but it almost certainly led to the loss of the makers mark and the date (see commentary). The occasion of the alterations was clearly the wish to fit a pendulum; in the course of this almost the entire going train was replaced and the rest of the clock extensively overhauled. Judging by the present dial this conversion was probably executed in Germany.
At some later stage the bell with its stand and the corner finials were lost.
Going train (the train has been substantially altered):
greatwheel - 1 rev. in 2½ hours.
duration - 27½ hours.
escapement - ca.12,707 beats per hour.
Striking train: duration - 156 strokes (= exactly 24 hours).
Clock: hight (to the top of the top plate) - 102.5 mm
width - 74.5 mm
depth - 74.5 mm
Movement: distance between the plates - 59.5 mm
distance between the bars (going) - 20.0 mm; (striking) - 17.0 mm
HISTORY AND PROVENANCE.
Purchased from Mr.T.Beyer, Zurich, Switzerland, for £ 2,800.00 (20,900 Sw.Fr.). Reg. 1973,12-3,1.
At present the clock no longer bears a mark or signature, but there need be no doubt that it was made by Steffen Brenner of Copenhagen.
For Steffen Brenner see Liisberg (1908) 1). He was the earliest Danish maker of small clocks; he was in Copenhagen by 1552 when he made a silver cased clock 2) which may supply a clue as to where he learned the trade. It is closely related to another clock marked SH with a sun and dated 1553 3). The similarities are pronounced: both clocks have steel movements with decoratively pierced back plates and warned striking with concentric detends, the warning detend having a baluster-shaped pipe. Moreover, both clocks have in the base an equatorial sundial with a list of latitudes. It is common practice that in such lists the maker includes his home town. The Brenner clock certainly has Kopenhagen and many northerly places; the SH-clock has more conventional place names, but it is striking that it has both Bremen and Lübeck but not the more important Hamburg. It is suggested that this clock originated in one of those two places, and the assumption seems justified that Brenner learned the trade there too 4).
Brenner was clockmaker to Christian III (died 1559) and Fredrick II (died 1588), and is last mentioned in 1583. His most important work was a large astronomical clock, made jointly with the silversmith Johan Sive for the King in the years 1553-6 (destroyed by fire in 1728) 5). Johan Sibe came from Flanders; he is first mentioned in Copenhagen in 1547, and died there in 1567 6). A surviving sketch of the large clock shows that its decoration was in part similar to that of Brenner's Metzger-type clock of 1567 7), which suggests that Sibe also engraved, and perhaps made, conventional clockcases for Brenner. Brenner invariably dated his clocks and signed them with his initials and a mark (half a fleur-de-lys); about a dozen clocks are known to exist, dating from 1552 to 1579 8), and all are spring-driven. For his vertical clocks Brenner favoured slipcases and sub-stage movements; the B.M.-clock is particularly similar to two clocks dated 1556 and 1557 9). Both these clocks are signed and dated on the dial, and it may be assumed that this was where the present clock originally was signed, too.
1) Pp.129-136, 151-155. Maurice (1976) 106-7 quotes slightly different dates. Maurice's assertion that Brenner used ready-made South German components in his cases needs qualifying: the corner pillars of the Metzger-type clock in the V.& A. are certainly of a type produced in South Germany, but they are rougher than is to be expected from the main centres. It seems more likely that they were cast in Copenhagen using South German originals as models.
2) Silver clock signed STEFAN BRENNER COPENHAGEN 1552 and with Brenners mark (a half fleur-de-lys): Nationalmuseum, Stockholm (unpublished). The case of this clock is chased and engraved; the very fine engraving suggests Sibe as the casemaker (see later).
3) Musée national de la renaissance, Écouen. See Cat.Écouen (1989) no.4.
4) The SH-clock has the latitudes Steffen Brenner 1552 has the latitudes
in degrees and minutes. in degrees only.
Dantiscam 54 50 (Gdansk) IERVSALEM 31
Lvnda 72 30 (Lund) PARIS 47
Francfordia 50 21 NERNBERG 49 (Nuremberg)
Noremberga 49 27 ]NABVRG 54 (Hanaburg = Hamburg)
Wienna 48 22 HOLSTEIN 55
Basilea 47 40 COPAHAGA 56
Praga 50 4 GODTLAND 59
Venecia 44 50
Florencia 43 10 STOCKHOLM 60
Roma 41 40 BERGEN 61
REYEL [ (Reval, now Tallinn?)
Lubecum 45 50 DRVNTHEM [ (Trondheim)
Antwerp 51 20 ISLAND [ (Iceland)
Bremen 53 36 GRONLAND 71 (Greenland)
Augusta 48 15 (Augsburg) ENGALAND 52 (England)
Parisivs 47 55
Ispruck 46 55 (Innsbruck) [, ]: in these places dammage has
Tridentvm 45 30 (Trente) destroyed part of the inscription.
Mediolanvm 44 41 (Milan)
Neapolis 41 31 (Naples) It would appear that Brenner used the same
Koppenhaga 56 36 list, omitting the minutes (see Paris, which should be 4855').
Two more clocks belong to this group: a clock with a lion-hunt case and another one dated 1548, both stamped GS flanking a head with a pointed head. These two clocks have no sundials. For this group see no. OA 4304 and the introduction.
5) Liisberg (1908) 129-136; Maurice (1976) fig.219.
6) Liisberg (1908) 128-132.
7) Victoria & Albert Museum, London. It should be noted, however, that there is a very similar Brenner clock-case dated 1577 (Maurice  fig.166), showing that Sibe's designs continued to be used after his death.
8) Rich tabernacle clock 1579, made perhaps for Fredrick II (ex coll.James de Rothschild; Maurice  fig.224).
9) Dated 1556: Rosenborg (Maurice  fig.87). Dated 1557: Det Danske Urmuseum, Aarhus (Waagepetersen  5, 11; Waagepetersen  figs.1-2).
3) Clocks by Brenner similar to the present one are:
Dated 1556 (Rosenborg; Maurice  fig.87).
Dated 1557 (Det Danske Urmuseum, Aarhus; Waagepetersen  5, 11;
Waagepetersen  figs.1-2).
Dated 1560 (Nationalhist.Museum Hilleröd; Maurice  fig.87, caption).
Dated 1563 (Private coll.; Maurice  fig.87, caption).
Dated 1564 (Schloss Frederiksborg; Maurice  fig.87, caption).
The similar small clocks by Brenner are:
Dated 1556. Sub-stage, square baluster pillars, ornamental bars.
Maurice (1976) fig.87.
Dated 1557. Sub-stage, square baluster pillars, ornamental bars.
C.Waagepetersen, Gamle Ure fra "det Danske Urmuseum" i "den Gamle By" (Aarhus 1959). The same, Gamle Ure i Danmark (Kopenhagen 1964) figs.1-2.
Det Danske Urmuseum, Aarhus.
Dated 1576. Like the others, but larger.
Maurice (1976) fig.87.
According to Waagepetersen (1964) 10 there are at least 6 clocks by this maker; three of them are in Rosenborg, the oldest being dated 1556.
Maurice mentions in addition as similar clocks: dated 1560 (Nationalhistorisches Museum Hilleröd); dated 1563 (private coll. Milwaukee); dated 1564 (Schloss Frederiksborg) .
Cube-shaped clock 1558 (Lübeck, St.-Annen-Museum, Lübeck, Maurice  fig.222).
Square clock 1561 (Maurice  573)
Round clock 1567 (Maurice  fig.521);
Metzger-type clock (1567, V.& A.)
Metzger-type clock 156. (private coll. New York)
Rich tabernacle clock 1579, made perhaps for Fredrick II (ex coll.James de Rothschild; Maurice  fig.224).
The similar clock by Hans Steinmeissel, Prag 1549, has simple bars and round baluster pillars, but has an alarm similar to the BM's clock. It is marked on the dial and signed under the bell, and has a 24-hour dial of the Prague type (?) (Maurice  fig.85).
None of the above cases have corner pillars; the only sub-stage clock to have these is, apart from the BM's, the clock by Hildebrandt Resen, Braunschweig, thought to date from ca.1570 (Anton-Ulrich Museum, Braunschweig).
Holes for the fusee cords cut after the german fashion.
Barrel going: depth 15.5 mm (slightly irregular). The barrel is brazed with yellow brazing; the wall was bent out of strip and brazed (yellow) with a narrow strip on the inside covering the join. Same construction in both the other trains.
Barrel striking: depth 14.0 (ditto).
Barrel alarm: depth 5.0 (ditto).
The join of the vertical parts of the case appears to be at the left-hand back corner.
Had the chapterring off (not the pierced ornament above it): nothing.
The engraving is not after Virgil Solis.
The pipe + disc for the alarm setting disc is brass; the disc sits on a hexagon. Disc OK, the rest probably leter.
The back extension of the hour-hand arbor has a brass ring around it. This may have necessitated opening the hole in the front bar, which may then have led to discarding the hole for the 2nd wheel arbor.
The present hand has a brass bush, not friction-tight: the bush is to fit only.
Johan Sibe - goldsmith from Flanders, first ment.1547, involved in the big clock from 1553-56, died 1567.
Liisberg (1908) 128-132.
Steffen Brenner - ment.1553, clockmaker to Christian III and to Frederick II; big clock 1553-6; last ment.1583.
Liisberg (1908) 129-136, 151-155.
Check the main spring going: Wayman thinks it may be OK.
BIBLIOGRAPHY (Pauline Wholey – 2019)
AH 8 No.6 (March 1974) 573.
Tait (1983) H.Tait, Clocks and Watches (London 1983).
Wayman (2000) - M.L.Wayman ed., The ferrous Metallurgy of early Clocks and Watches - Studies in post medieval Steel, British Museum, Occasional Paper 135 (London 2000). Contributers: P.T.Craddock, J.L.Evans, J.Lang, J.H.Leopold, M.L.Wayman.
- On display (G38/dc4)
- Associated events
- Associated Event: Life of Christ
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number