Collection online

watch-case / stackfreed watch

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1958,1201.2203

  • Escapement

  • Description

    TAMBOUR CASED TIMEPIECE Germany, ca. 1550 - 1570 : All steel movement with chamfered pillars riveted to the front plate; open mainspring; four wheel train of steel wheels. Verge escapement with dumb- bell balance and hog's bristle regulator. Stackfreed spring, roller and cam, all pinned to the back-plate. : Gilt-brass dial engraved I-XII, 13-Z4 with T-shaped half-hour marks within a circle of touch-pins. In the centre a serpentine sunburst. The steel hand is a replacement. : Gilt-brass case with hinged lid and push-on back. The lid is cast with a pierced geometric pattern chased with stylised foliage with a rosette at the centre. The back is cast with a foliate pattern incorporating two dogs chasing a hare around a central rosette. Around the outside a raised border of stylised laurel leaf. : Movement punched with the maker's mark:- : : MS in monogram in a shield (?) unidentified. ; Ilbert Collection, 1958. (M&LA CAI-2203)

    More 

  • Producer name

  • Date

    • 1550-1570
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Diameter: 45.4 millimetres (case)
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

        maker's mark
      • Inscription Content

        MS (?) [pillar-plate]
  • Curator's comments

    Comment from Hugh Tait, Catalogue of Watches in the British Museum. Vol. I (1987)

    Maker Unknown, monogram MS (?); probably German, mid-16th century, with a much restored movement

    Tambour Watch (Movement with Going-Train Only)

    Case:
    Back: cast with a circular pattern of scrolling foliage inhabited by two dogs chasing a hare; in the centre, a rosette; raised border in the form of a stylised laurel wreath. Interior: scribed with two concentric circles and with a sink to clear the winding-square.

    Pendant bar: fitted with one ring.

    Band: cast and decorated with a linear version of the back.

    Lid: cast with a geometrical pattern of four arcs springing from the border and meeting at a central disc after passing over or under a concentric ring. The surfaces are decorated with stylised foliage. The central disc matches that on the back of the case. Interior: a version of the exterior decoration is lightly engraved.

    Dial: standard. Later steel hand.

    Movement:
    The movement is standard except:
    (a) the clip for the crown-wheel is on the opposite side of the contrate-wheel;
    (b) the outer end of the mainspring has been hooked over the retaining stud instead of the edge of the pillar; the latter has been chamfered to receive it;
    (c) the maker's initials, MS (?) in monogram, are punched on the pillar-plate.

    Diameter (of case): 45.4 mm

    Provenance: Ilbert Collection, 1958.

    Notes:
    1. The ground of the back and the band has been worked with a small punch. An almost identical case (front and back) and dial are illustrated in Reinhard Meis, 'Taschenuhren', Munich, 1982, p. 58, figs 1-3 (preserved in the Museum der Zeitmessung Beyer, Zurich).

    2. The design of the lid is exactly repeated on the example formerly in the Figdor Collection and now in the Kunstgewerbemuseum, Berlin (see Tjark Hausmann, 'Alte Uhren', Berlin, 1971, no. 81); it is also related to registration nos 1958,1201.2202 and 1958,1201.2209, and to a watch in the Württembergisches Landesmuseum, Stuttgart (no. 3185), illustrated in Leo Balet, 'Führer durch die Uhrensammlung', Stuttgart, 1913, p. 74, fig. 56. It has recently been established that this watch has a fusee and the movement bears a punch-mark similar to that described in registration no. 1958,1201.2202.

    3. The design in relief on the band and the back is to be found repeated on registration no. 1958,1201.2204; both are cast from the same pattern. A third example, with identical decoration on the band and back, is preserved in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, Munich (R.833). The design on the back is identical to that on a watch-case formerly in the Thewalt Collection ('Katalog der Kunst-Sammlung Karl Thewalt in Köln', Cologne, 1903, no. 1323, pl. 20); unfortunately a later movement has been fitted.

    4. Two modern cast copies of the back are part of the decorative ornament on a nineteenth-century pseudo-Renaissance 'jewel casket' (preserved in the Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Metalwork, since 1904, inv. no. 946-1904). They demonstrate a further use to which modern casts of this tambour watch-case have been put and help to confirm the doubts that have been expressed about the age of some of the extant tambour watch-cases of this design - see also registration no. 1958,1201.2204, note 3, and registration no. 1888,1201.152, note 6.

    5. For the general design of the case, see the painting attributed to a North Italian artist, about 1560 (see HughTait, Catalogue of Watches in the British Museum. Vol. I (1987), p. 17,Fig. 10) and the Hans Gruber watch with stackfreed in the Gewerbemuseum, Nuremberg (inv. no. 3656; diam. 2.3 cm; see Klaus Maurice, 'Die deutsche Räderuhr', Munich, 1976, vol. II, p. 60, figs 426 a-c).

    6. Serious doubts have been expressed about the state of the movement and, as certain parts (the stackfreed and the going-train) appear to be unworn and in better condition than the plates, it is probable that the plates are original but the mechanism is heavily restored.

    Bibliography: T. P. Camerer Cuss, The Country Life Book of Watches, London, 1967, p. 13, fig. 4; T. P. Camerer Cuss, The Camerer Cuss Book of Antique Watches, Woodbridge, 1976, p. 51, pl. 5; Hugh Tait, Clocks and Watches, 1983, 2nd edn, London, 1986, p. 44, fig. 46 (in colour).Text from 'Watches', by David Thompson, London, 2008, p. 14-15.

    MS

    GILT-BRASS TAMBOUR CASED WATCH
    SOUTH GERMANY, c. 1560

    SIGNED: 'MS' conjoined

    This small timepiece, housed in a tambour case and with a stackfreed mechanism commonly found in Germanic watches of this period, is one of the earliest surviving watches in the British Museum collections. Following the introduction of the watch in South Germany at the beginning of the sixteenth century, it seems that it was this tambour shape, derived from small drum-shaped spring-driven clocks, which became the universal design until the middle of the century, before the rounded forms of case came into fashion.
    The watch case is made of mercury-gilt cast brass. The fact that the elements of the case were cast means that it is no surprise to find other similar examples, and a watch in the Kunstgewerbemuseum, Berlin, has a lid of identical design. Two others, one in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum in Munich and one in the British Museum collections, have case bands of similar design. This shows that components of the cases were being manufactured, at least in small numbers, to be supplied to various watchmakers.
    The case band of this watch is cast with a scrolling foliate design with a hare and two hounds similar to the design on the case back, which has a deer, a hare and a hound. The cover is pierced with an openwork design of a concentric circle interwoven with four arcs emanating from the rim. At the centre is a solid roundel with a floral rosette similar to the one in the middle of the back.
    As to be expected in a watch of this date, the components of the movement are made from iron, although here the watch has been restored considerably by the replacement of the gear train and the stackfreed spring and roller on the back plate. Doubt must also be cast on the hog's-bristle regulator, which has no scale on the back plate to act as a register. While such a device was commonly found on Germanic watches of the era that had a dumb-bell balance, here the regulator is most likely to have been fitted erroneously during a modern restoration.
    In keeping with its clock antecedents, the movement is held in the case by two latches, which engage in holes in the case band.
    The dial is characteristically engraved with a starburst in the centre of the chapter ring, which has hour Roman numerals I-XII and Arabic numerals 13-24 in a separate circle, with the '2' looking rather like the letter 'z', a common form in Germanic work of the sixteenth century. There are T-shaped marks for the half-hours and around the outside there are touch pins at the hours to allow the time to be ascertained in the dark. The hand is unfortunately a modern replacement.

    More 

  • Bibliography

    • Watches Vol I 03 bibliographic details
    • Thompson 2008 pp.14-15 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G39/dc14/no1

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1958

  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number

    1958,1201.2203

  • Additional IDs

    • CAI.2203 (Ilbert Collection)
TAMBOUR CASED TIMEPIECE Germany, ca. 1550 - 1570 : All steel movement with chamfered pillars riveted to the front plate; open mainspring; four wheel train of steel wheels. Verge escapement with dumb- bell balance and hog's bristle regulator. Stackfreed spring, roller and cam, all pinned to the back-plate. : Gilt-brass dial engraved I-XII, 13-Z4 with T-shaped half-hour marks within a circle of touch-pins. In the centre a serpentine sunburst. The steel hand is a replacement. : Gilt-brass case with hinged lid and push-on back. The lid is cast with a pierced geometric pattern chased with stylised foliage with a rosette at the centre. The back is cast with a foliate pattern incorporating two dogs chasing a hare around a central rosette. Around the outside a raised border of stylised laurel leaf. : Movement punched with the maker's mark:- : : MS in monogram in a shield (?) unidentified. ; Ilbert Collection, 1958. (M&LA CAI-2203)

TAMBOUR CASED TIMEPIECE Germany, ca. 1550 - 1570 : All steel movement with chamfered pillars riveted to the front plate; open mainspring; four wheel train of steel wheels. Verge escapement with dumb- bell balance and hog's bristle regulator. Stackfreed spring, roller and cam, all pinned to the back-plate. : Gilt-brass dial engraved I-XII, 13-Z4 with T-shaped half-hour marks within a circle of touch-pins. In the centre a serpentine sunburst. The steel hand is a replacement. : Gilt-brass case with hinged lid and push-on back. The lid is cast with a pierced geometric pattern chased with stylised foliage with a rosette at the centre. The back is cast with a foliate pattern incorporating two dogs chasing a hare around a central rosette. Around the outside a raised border of stylised laurel leaf. : Movement punched with the maker's mark:- : : MS in monogram in a shield (?) unidentified. ; Ilbert Collection, 1958. (M&LA CAI-2203)

Image description

Recommend


Feedback

If you’ve noticed a mistake or have any further information about this object, please email: collectiondatabase@britishmuseum.org 

View open data for this object with SPARQL endpoint

Object reference number: MCC2791

British Museum collection data is also available in the W3C open data standard, RDF, allowing it to join and relate to a growing body of linked data published by organisations around the world.

View this object

Support the Museum:
donate online

The Museum makes its collection database available to be used by scholars around the world. Donations will help support curatorial, documentation and digitisation projects.

About the database

The British Museum collection database is a work in progress. New records, updates and images are added every week.

More about the database 

Supporters

Work on this database is supported by a range of sponsors, donors and volunteers.

More about supporters and how you
can help  

Loading...