- Museum number
Eight-day Skeleton clock.
Skeltonized brass plates with baluster pillars mounted on an oval ebonised wooden base with four feet, two bun shaped and two rectangular.
Mainspring barrel with fusee, chain and standard stop-work
Four wheel train, anchor escapement, pendulum missing.
Applied silvered-brass chapter ring with hours I-XII, blued-steel hands.
Originally with glass dome, now missing.
Great Wheel: 96
Centre wheel: 84 pinion 8
Third wheel :78 pinion 7
Escape wheel: 32 pinion 7
Canon pinion: 40
Minute wheel: 40 pinion 7
Hour wheel: 84
- Production date
Height: 33 centimetres
Width: 25.50 centimetres
Depth: 15 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Text from 'Clocks', by David Thompson, London, 2004, p. 150.
Adey B. Savory & Sons
Height 33 cm, width 25.5 cm, depth 15 cm
The skeleton clock is characterized by having its movement plates pierced out to a minimum of essential metal in a symmetrical design which leaves all the wheel-work and escapement clearly visible. Rather than having a case, the clock is then housed under a glass dome so that the intricacies of the machine are exposed for all to see. In nineteenth-century England these clocks became a familiar sight on the tables and mantelpieces of middle- and upper-class homes. Although there is great debate about their origins and discussion concerning the fact that many of them are unsigned, their popularity is in no doubt. The first skeleton clocks were made in France towards the end of the eighteenth century but there were also a small number of unusual clocks made in England, such as Joseph Merlin's unique 1776 clock, which is now displayed at Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath in London, and Sir William Congreve's 'extreme detached escapement' clock of 1808 in the Royal Collections.
However, the skeleton clock in the form in which it became commonly known in England appeared in the 1820s, following a French fashion. These clocks appear to have been produced by a relatively small number of businesses based particularly in London, Liverpool and Birmingham. Large-scale manufacturers such as John Smith & Sons of Clerkenwell and James Condliff of Liverpool supplied a multitude of retailers who added their names to the dials. The clocks' individual styles ranged from the simple timepiece, perhaps with the added sophistication of a one-at-the-hour strike on a bell at the top, to grandiose chiming clocks with plates pierced out in the form of English cathedrals, particularly York Minster and Lichfield Cathedral. The clocks were commonly designed to go for eight days but year-going examples were also made. The popularity of the design continued throughout the Victorian era but declined in the twentieth century, although even today booklets can be purchased giving complete instructions on how to make one, using simple machinery and hand tools.
This small skeleton clock is of simple design with a timepiece movement with anchor escapement. The plates are cast in a symmetrical design to accommodate the mainspring barrel, fusee, gear train and escapement. The pendulum is suspended in the normal way at the back of the clock, and the chapter ring is signed 'A.B. Savory & Co. Comhill'. This large company was described in directories as being watch and clockmakers, goldsmiths, dealers in foreign coin and bullion.
Presented by Jeremy Evans in 1998.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number