- Museum number
GILT-BRASS AND TORTOISE-SHELL CASED TRAVELLING CLOCK WITH LEVER ESCAPEMENT, QUARTER STRIKING AND QUARTER REPEAT.
Brass and tortoise-shell case with gilt-brass bezels front and back and with a glazed cover at the top for viewing the escapement. Gilt-brass ball feet.
White enamel dial with hours I-XII,and minutes 5-60 around the outside. Subsidiary seconds dial below XII. Gilt hour and minute hands. Blued-steel seconds hand.
Eight-day spring-driven movement with fusees and Mudge's lever escapement. Rack striking for hours only. Pull-quarter repeat on two bells.
- Production date
Diameter: 10 millimetres
Height: 15.50 centimetres
Width: 15 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Text from 'Clocks', by David Thompson, London, 2004, p. 120.
London, c. 1768
Following his experimental clock of c. 1754 in which he incorporated his first lever escapement (see page 118), Thomas Mudge went on to make only a small number of timepieces incorporating the new escapement. The best-known of these, the watch made for Queen Charlotte in 1769, is still in the Royal Collections.
This little travelling clock is thought to be the second of Mudge's clocks to contain his new lever escapement. It is without doubt a tour de force of the clockmaker's art and typical of his work. This marvellous eight-day clock strikes the hours and sounds the last hour and quarter at the pull of a cord. The movement is a highly complex arrangement of gear trains and striking mechanisms, all arranged in a full-plate construction, making it an extremely demanding piece to work with. The lever escapement is mounted on a platform at the top of the clock and is displayed beneath a round glazed panel in the top of the case. The hours and quarters are struck on two bells mounted on the back plate.
The dial is of the highest quality in white enamel with arabic minutes, roman hours and a subsidiary dial at XII o'clock for seconds, numbered every fifth second 5-60. The gold hands for hours and minutes are very finely finished and the seconds are shown by a slender blued-steel hand. In the lower centre the makers' name is simply inscribed in capitals, THO MUDGE LONDON. The movement and dial are housed in an unusual cylindrical tortoiseshell-veneered case with gilt-brass bezel and ball feet, and there is also a mahogany carrying-case for protection during transport.
The clock was originally made for a Mr Geddes and work began on it in about 1766. By 1774, however, it had been purchased by Mudge's patron Count von Brühl, in whose family it remained by descent until it was purchased by The British Museum. In correspondence with von Brühl, Mudge referred to this clock as the 'little clock'. In 1774 he wrote, 'I am glad that you have got the little clock that was Mr Geddes". The clock was then improved by Mudge and by 1777 he was clearly happy with its performance, saying to von Brühl, 'I am highly pleased with the going of your little clock, it is certainly greatly beyond what I expected from it, as the mode of executing the balance work is not so clever as it might have been, if going well had been the only consideration'. Here he refers to the fact that the clock has striking and repeating work and is not a simple timepiece.
Purchased in 1995.
For a print of Count Maurice von Brühl see registration no. 1958,1006.2710.
- On display (G39/dc10)
- Exhibition history
2015 18 Feb-14 Jun, Germany, Staatliche Kunstammlungen Dresden, Simple and Perfect: Saxony's Path into the International World of Watch-Making
1997 Jan 6-26, London, Christie's, National Art Collections Fund, 'Something for Everyone'
Latest: 3 (May 2015)
2 (Jun 1995)
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number