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European Clocks

I have been on a sort of busman’s holiday around the world looking at antique clocks. It is amazing how this country has literally pulled the world together or connected it through our history. I examined the close ties with Australia and antique clocks in my last blog. I have also written about the cloc kmakers that headed to USA for a new life. In both countries this meant the setting up production of a new industry in clockmaking. This will be one of my last blogs concerning clocks from around the world. I will look at antique clocks that were made for a particular market. Two countries spring to mind instantly.

Turkish and Portugese Market For Clocks

In the 18th century antique clocks manufactured in London were being sent to countries like Turkey and to another one of our close allies, Portugal. It is our connection with Portugal I will consider here. We have just restored a fantastic London mahogany grandfather clock. This is pictured above that has spent its entire life in Lisbon, I believe, until we purchased it at the end of last year. The superb example is pictured above.

Spencer and Perkins Lisbon Clock

You will see the clock is made by the great clockmakers Spencer and Perkins in London.Built around C1770. It has a strike/silent to the arch saying Repite and Surdo, clearly in Portuguese. This clock was exhibited in Lisbon in 1986 to commemorate the Battle of Aljubarrota in 1385. It was then 600 years since this historic battle. Right so what exactly is our connection with Portugal. The Anglo-Portugese Treaty of 1373 was signed between King Edward III of England and King Ferdinand and Queen Eleanor of Portugal. This is I believe the oldest treaty in the world. It was a treaty established between two great seafaring nations, a treaty of, “perpetual friendships, unions [and] alliances”.

Close Bonds With Portugal

This little heard of treaty has been reinforced throughout history, including in 1386 in this Battle of Aljubarrota. Here the English sent 100 longbowmen, veterans from the Hundred Years wars to honour this alliance in 1373. There were about 6,500 men on the Portuguese and English side against a force from the Crown of Castile, Kingdom of France and Arogonese allies and Italian allies of over 31,000 men. The Portuguese with the help of the English managed to win against overwhelming odds. In 1386, the closeness of the relations between Portugal and England resulted in a permanent military alliance, with the Treaty of Windsor, the eldest still active in existence. This treaty came into play again in 1643,1654,1660,1661,1703,1815,1899. It was also recognized in the Treaties of Arbitration in 1904 and 1914. This Treaty was also used during the Second World War and was also cited during the 1982 Falklands War.

Rise of Clockmaking

During the rise of the clockmaking in the UK in the 18th century under King George II and III we were at war with or on opposite sides with France many times. Supply of wine after French ports were blockaded became a problem. Our alliances with Portugal made British merchants look further afield. Port was invented as in order to stabilize the wines during their long journey at sea. Merchants added a bucket or two or brandy to the barrels before sending them off.  Britain and Portugal signed the Methuen Treaty providing for, among other things, bolts of cloth from England for pipes of wine from Portugal. This paved the way for the enormous expansion of port trade in the 18th and 19th-centuries.

Port Trade

King George III was rather partial it was believed to this drink, and he helped his allies from Portugal during many occasions. It was believed fine antiques and clocks and other items were sent after various disastrous earth quakes in Portugal. The 1755 Lisbon earthquake was one of the most deadly earthquakes in history.

Lisbon Earthquakes

The pictures above show one such clock that was manufactured in London. This was sent out to Lisbon, Portugal in the 18th century. It has spent, I believe,  all but the last few months overseas. It has a very unusual packing block behind the movement that looks original to the case. This appears to be the way the movement was bolted down for shipment in the 18th century. A really rare feature which you can see below. There is also an 18th century brass plate on the back of the movement that attaches to this block.

It is a fantastic antique clock and it can be viewed on our website, please contact me for any further information.

Daniel R Clements