Daniel Clements – www.pendulumofmayfair.co.uk
I have had the pleasure to come across this amazing early 18th century ‘equation of time’ clock by John Topping of London. John Topping is not a household name in today’s clock world but he really should be. He built some of the most fantastic complex antique clocks during his time working in London.
He started as an apprentice to William Grimes in 1691 and he worked up until his death in 1747. He always described himself as ‘Memory Master’. I am not sure if this was a honour bestowed on him or if it was like a sales and marketing slogan for him in the 18th century, either way he produced some exceptional clocks.
Further details of month duration ‘Equation of Time’ John Topping Grandfather Clock.
The clock above is a fine example by John Topping, a superb early 18th century antique clock manufacturer in London. It is a most desirable combination of a superb and interesting complex movement and a beautiful veneered walnut cabinet. The dial is 12 inch and is signed to a recessed triangular sector, ‘John Topping Memory Master.’ The dial is of a specific elongated dimension to fit the extra large seconds and the rise and fall of pendulum and strike/silent dials to the arch.
If you continue down from where the makers name is signed and above the six o’clock position on the dial, you will see a revolving year calendar. On this year calendar there is an equation table allowing you to set ‘true time’ in the 18th century. I will come to what ‘true time’ is later in this piece. The top line of this year calendar is engraved ‘Sun Slower’ or ‘Sun Faster’, the next line gives the months divided into days which are numbered 5,15 etc for each month. The equation and calendar dial is set by a winding square next to the 60 and midday position on the clock.
You will notice that the winding holes are located above the centre position rather than below centre on most clocks, this allows enough room for the equation of time year calendar ring. The thin blued iron strip marks the day of the month and then so many minutes faster or slower than a sundial can be read off for calculating actual time. The dial has superbly matted centre, chapter ring, specifically made spandrels and engraving to small sections within the arch.
The seconds feature to the arch is large which is a really nice feature. It also has a sunburst feature cut in the dial to the top centre section. A superbly laid out and designed dial by this wonderful clockmaker. In the picture below you will see how complex the movement requires to be in developing a dial like this.
The movement has a brass centre section and two side sections. From the picture above you can see the cam which lifts and lowers the pendulum for small adjustments to time. You can also see the many pillars used in this high quality movement.
On our antique grandfather clocks stock section further important clocks can be found.
The table above was sometimes pasted inside some special London clocks when they did not have a proper year calendar, so the owners could work out the calculation manually. Clearly full year calendar equation clocks are exceedingly rare and most likely cost a huge amount of money, as such probably only a very small amount of these clocks were ever manufactured.
So what is ‘true time’ then ? In the 18th century finding out what midday was was relatively easy, a sundial could be used. The problem comes as this is not ‘actual time.’ As a result of the elliptical rotation of the earth, clocks were sometimes slower or sometimes ahead of this sundial time. A good explanation and for the science minded of us can be found on the Wikpedia Equation of Time Page.
Follow my antique clock tweets.
The following piece , ‘ The Swing of the Pendulum’, is taken from April 2014 edition of Antique Collecting, it is based on John Andrews interview and discussions with myself Daniel Clements, manager of Pendulum of Mayfair Ltd, specialist in antique clocks www.pendulumofmayfair.co.uk .
It takes courage to come from a business in the provinces and open up in the West End of London, especially when so many antiques concerns have been doing precisely the opposite. But this is what Pendulum did twenty years ago, taking Fred Perry’s shop and residence at 51, Maddox Street by buying the freehold so as to have control over the rent as one important cost element. This having been achieved as a deliberate long-term measure, the costs of converting the shop were a safe investment and Pendulum of Mayfair was launched.
Further details of the Herring automaton clock.
Many businesses in this field have come about as a result of what was a part-time hobby and source of incidental income becoming so absorbing that the plunge to launching into full time was taken. Daniel Clements says that his father is a classic example. He used to say that he became a dealer in 1974 to pay for his vice of collecting. As a qualified mechanical engineer he was engaged in building factories and designing new machines all over the world, acting as engineering director at Pilkington’s. But his love of clocks, playing with and restoring them, became a passion that provided relaxation from the stresses of work and eventually brought about the decision to leave his job and set up as a dealer full time.
When he did this 40 years ago it was considered to be a crazy thing to do, but like many who have entered the antiques business after years of dealing on the fringes of it, the impulse was too strong to resist. Even now, in his seventies, Mr Clements love of clocks is still as powerful as it was when he set up the business of CoppeliaAntiques in Cheshire forty years ago. This passion has led to the establishment of a highly regarded business with a worldwide field of activity.
Further details Bancroft Scarborough Grandfather Clock.
Throughout the 40 years since its start, Daniel Clements says the greatest pleasure the business has provided is in finding special clocks and restoring them as sympathetically as possible. Over the years they have developed the skills of lots of young people in their care, trying to instil a love of old things and learning about their origins along the way. Touching old things, smelling them, and getting under ‘their skin’ is a long process and needs patience and understanding. The workshop is the hub of the entire operation and nothing is allowed to leave until Mr Clements is satisfied with the result. A familiar motto of the business is the saying ‘well bought, is half sold’. This means that because the special type of antique clocks Pendulum look for are so hard to find, selling them is the easiest part.
Further Details of Herring Musical Grandfather Clock.
Over the years many special pieces have come into their hands and customers have become friends.Examples of this provide instances of expertise combining with history to provide the customer with a truly remarkable acquisition. One particular clock sold to an Australian client was by the clockmaker Henry Lane. This was a superb musical Bristol Longcase clock from c.1790. Henry Lane, as it happens,was the first clockmaker in Australia,but the story of how this comes about was a compelling one. Henry was sentenced to death for forging money.This sentence was later changed by an act of clemency to transportation to Australia. He left Spithead on thePerseus with 112 other male prisonerson the 12th February 1802. This is what Clements feels is so special about antique clocks: they have a history andyou can research more about the clockmaker’s life. They are a living working museum to the past and attractive pieces of furniture as well. How proud master clockmakers would feel if they could see their clocks still working perfectly in many homes today.
Further details of Peter Wood Bracket Clock.
With the Pendulum shop being situated right in the heart of London they have sold and restored clocks to many VIPs for large companies like Asprey’s and Garrard’s, and major hotels like the Connaught. Recently they had the pleasure of restoring some really complex antique clocks for the Russian Embassy in London. Clements states that ‘the Ambassador and his assistants have shown us great kindness and consideration. We have lovely presents from them and also were delighted to attend their special day earlier this year. This was another of the fantastic memories we have built up over the years. The clocks were a challenge but they now look wonderful and are now fully functioning & proudly taking up their prestigious places at the Embassy. It was a real honour for us, and it shows how far we have come as a business over the years.’
Further details of Hanson of London Bracket Clock.
Another entertaining example comes from their local specialist auction house in Chester. They had a lovely little clock for sale at auction about 20 years ago. There were four clocks in the sale,of which one was of great interest: it was catalogued as an ‘electric clock‘. When the hood was taken off the clock, the movement looked as though it was in a salmon tin, because it was enclosed. ‘We instantly knew what this clock was,and so, says Clements, my mother and father decided to split up in the room.My father said to my mother: you bid; if the other dealers see me bidding they will twig. My mother started bidding on the clock but she was very laid back, so much so that the auctioneer asked her are you bidding Ma’am? She said yes and the auctioneer slammed the hammer down. One dealer who was standing by my father noticed it was his wife bidding. He asked what the clock that she had just bought was. My father said, ‘oh, my wife collects electric clocks.’ Of course it was not an electric clock at all. The clock’s movement had been dust encased. It was a fantastic clock by John Holmes of London. The cartouche had been reversed on the dial and engraved electric clock. It clearly had been used as a ‘slave clock’ in the early 20th century, to drive other clocks around a factory.
Further Details of Frodsham Wall Clock.
‘Daniel Clements says ‘I wish these bargains happened more often but it is not the case. Everyone thinks they have a master piece under their pillow or in their garage. The guy who purchased this ‘electric’ clock was told the story. He laughed; luckily he did not mind paying a handsome profit at the time. This clock will have appreciated many times in price since then though. Investing in antique clocks is just about as safe as houses. These master timekeepers come from an age where intrinsic labour costs are built in. Movements are handmade and built to exacting standards; they will continue telling the time in peoples’ homes for hundreds of years to come. Even throughout the recession, good genuine clocks have always appreciated in price.’
Further details Levi Dover Wall Clock.
‘I also remember when we purchased a lovely regulator clock with a painted dial. This clock was made for Catherine the Great of Russia, who was the most renowned and long ruling female leader of Russia. The clock came from the Winter Palace.It was brought out on a horse and cart just before the Russian Revolution at the start of the 20th century. I wish we had kept this clock, but then I wish we had kept many clocks we have sold over the years. We are in a business where we only buy what we love and we grow very attached to all our clocks. They are like extended branches of our family. Once you have restored the clocks, you feel part of them.Like selling puppies etc., the potential owners of our clocks, all get proper vetting! Luckily the people who love clocks are generally lovely people.’
‘Every clock we buy and sell has its own story. You realize you are always learning new things; a lifetime is not nearly long enough. We can be proud of restoring and bringing back to life some lovely antique clocks. Yesterday’s craftsman’s work will live on at our shop in London, Pendulum of Mayfair Ltd. We stock some of the finest antique clocks anywhere in the UK. All these are fully restored and come with a year’s guarantee. All antique grandfather clocks are delivered free of charge anywhere in the UK, and we have a full export shipping service to all four corners of the world. The USA is one of our biggest markets.’
Further details Austrian Automaton clock.
At a time when there are so many stories of retrenchment in the antiques business it is a pleasure to find one of sturdy optimism.Pendulum of Mayfair at 51 MaddoxStreet, London W1S 2PH
Tel: 0207 629 6606
Follow Daniel Clements on twitter: Antique Clocks Twitter.
Daniel Clements – www.pendulumofmayfair.co.uk
It is really amazing that antique clocks with automaton features, have been built for many thousands of years. You can go back back as far as Roman times to get a mention, the engineer Vitrivius describing alarm clocks with a gong or trumpet feature. From the these primitive automaton’s I am heading for some of the earliest automaton features on antique grandfather clocks like the one below.
Please follow the links contained in the text below, to view the clocks on the Pendulum of Mayfair website.
This superb ’8-day’ early 18th century burr walnut veneered antique grandfather clock with automaton, is by a Cambridge maker called John Lamborne, futher details of this special antique grandfather clock by John Lamborne can be seen by clicking on the link.
The section from which the grandfather clock is listed is here, antique grandfather clocks. This clock dates from around C1720 and is a very rare example of an early automaton on a grandfather clock. The soldiers in the arch move and ring the bell when the clock strikes the hour. This automaton like some of the earliest automatons known works from the striking mechanism.
Clearly the heavy figures to the arch requiring the power driven from the weight of the clock when striking. An interesting feature on the dial of this clock, is the plaque by the order of the Patentee No. 5. This clocks feature automaton must have been patented.
When most people think of automatons they probably will first think of cuckoo clocks, these became fashionable in the 19th century and most examples manufactured were from around C1860, these types of clocks are still manufactured today. The earlest cuckoo clock can be seen around the mid 18th century but not many from this period still survive today. The automaton bird will again work off the striking mechanism of the clock. It takes alot of power to drive this type of automaton and so most cuckoo clocks are only of 1 day duration.
I am now going to look at what most people will see or understand by automaton on antique grandfather clocks and that is automatons working from the pendulum. These type of automaton features swing back and forth with the movement of the pendulum, they can be directly off the pendulum or off the anchor which is driven by the pendulum. These automatons therefore work continualy and not just on the hour.
More details of this stunning C1790 automaton antique grandfather clock by Edwards can be found here, Edwards Automaton Antique Grandfather Clock . The automaton features a man chopping down the ‘tree of life’ , the axe moves back and forward as the clock ticks. Various other automaton features you can also find to the arch, I have seen see-saws, rocking swans, rarer badminton automatons like the one pictured below, adam and eve depictions, and probably the most common form of automaton on a clock was the rocking sailing boat or warship.
The British were clearly an important naval power and many owners like to have a depiction of a rocking boat to the arch, some depicting famous sea battles. The clock below respresents one of these very battles.
The clock above is a superb C1790 Scottish antique grandfather clock and more details again can be found but clicking on this link, Scott Edinburgh Automaton Grandfather Clock .
More details of this exceedingly rare automaton antique grandfather clock above can be found by going to, Grantham Automaton Antique Grandfather Clock . This clock features an automaton game of Badminton, it is very rare and is again working from the pendulum / anchor. It is a glorious antique clock with wonderful mahogany veneers and of 8 day duration.
The clock above is a superb arched painted dial with ‘Adam and Eve’ automaton to the arch and more details can be found by clicking, Parkinson Automaton Adam and Eve Grandfather Clock. Adam and Eve depictings usually involve automaton arms holding the apple and sometimes even the serpent moving on the tree. This clock dates from C1780 and is in a lovely mahogany cabinet.
It is important to note automaton antique clocks of any sort, especially on pre C1800 antique grandfather clocks are rare. I have seen many examples that are faked and so care must be taken if purchasing one of these. I would only recommend buying from a dealer who will give you a money back guarantee that the clock is genuine.
We at Pendulum of Mayfair do this, rare features like automaton always add alot to the price and because it is relatively simple in some cases to add this feature on a standard clock, unscrupulous dealers will do this. I have seen many such examples on the market, so only buy from a long established expert like ourselves willing to offer a guarantee that the clock is genuine.
Daniel Clements Follow me on Twitter
If you’re thinking of buying an antique clock, but you’re not sure how to go about it, or where to start, you really ought to get in touch with Pendulum of Mayfair. They stock and sell a wide range of beautiful antique clocks, and also offer a full antique clock and furniture repair and restoration service from their premises in Cheshire and central London.
Whatever sort of antique clock you’re after, or even if you’re not sure what sort you want, they’ll have one to suit you. From grandfather clocks, also known as longcase clocks, through bracket clocks and wall clocks to small, elegant carriage clocks, they stock a wide selection. For example, if you’d like a small clock to sit on a table or mantelpiece, how about a beautiful Drocourt carriage clock, from around 1860? At around 4.5in high, it has an eight-day movement and lovely engraved brass case. Or maybe you’d like a slightly bigger clock? How about a bracket clock? Usually about 14 or 15in high, they generally have a wooden case, and eight-day movement, and would look fabulous on a mantelpiece or in an alcove.
For more information or to find out more about the range of beautiful antique clocks available, call 0207 629 6606 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read our latest article: Leicestershire Antique Clocks
When it comes to Melton Mowbray I suppose everyone thinks of one thing, yes the town is famous for pork pies. Back in the 18th century the town of Melton in Leicestershire had some very good clockmakers though. Thomas Boyfield being one of those very able watch and clockmakers. The cabinet design is very similar to those cases known manufactured by Deacon of Barton, who’s records were found and are now situated in Leicester Museum. Samuel Deacon being a famous antique clockmaker to come from this area. Clearly alot of information is known about Deacon through finding all his records, I am listing here a clock by Boyfield of Melton and so researchers can see the similarities in case design and the dial design. Clearly the dials were decorated in Birmingham. Unless you knew alot of information about Deacon clocks, you would think the clock I have pictured here is by Deacon himself.
Leicestershire has always been recognised as an important centre for clockmaking in the 18th and early 19th centuries, and I would recommend a visit to Samnuel Deacons preserved clock workshop in Barton Leicestershire. It is a real eye opening experience. Leiecestershire museum also has alot of extra information of the clockmakers from this area, and I would also recommend a trip here. From my knowledge I can not remember many spring driven clocks from the county of Leicestershire, Deacon and other makers really only produced weight driven clocks.
You will notice the typical Leicestershire top to the door that you will see on clocks from this area. It is true that pretty much every area of the country had its own particular case design. Features like this top to the door are distinctive and experts will only need to see this, to tell you where the clock was manufactured. This clock is of a lovely colour oak and with mahogany cross-banding and box wood fan inlays and chequerboard stringing. Quarter columns to the trunk and the typical hood design used on clocks like Deacon sold can also be seen.
Further information on this lovely antique grandfather clock can be seen by clicking here Antique Clock Boyfield Melton .
Please also follow me on twitter. Antique Clocks Twitter