with anchor escapement - including longcase, hooded, wall, and lantern clocks - I am always searching to find rare examples dating from the 1680s and early 1690s - a period which is generally regarded as being at the very start of domestic clockmaking in many parts of rural England. However, I have always been hopeful that one day I would come across an exceptionally early 30-hour pendulum clock with original anchor escapement that dates close to the very beginnings of their prototype existence of the 1660s. This article is about one such very rare, exciting and untouched 30-hour Key-Wound example that I have been fortunate enough to acquire and illustrate on this website.
howing the beautifully engraved dial centre
eautifully engraved corners with tulip flowers instead of spandrels
howing a side view of movement. Note the finned and ringed pillars
nother view of the busy dial centre.
s a collector of early provincial 30-hour pendulum clocks
rom the books, journals and internet articles to be found on the subject, you will find that there are several disputed theories to how the earliest pendulum clocks with anchor escapement were first developed. One of these theories is that the very first prototype examples were made from 1658 after the invention of the Anchor Escapement by British scientist Robert Hooke. Between 1658 and 1670 it is thought that the making of these first pendulum clocks (including longcase) were limited to the work of the Fromanteel family and their immediate associates which included Edward East, John Hilderson and Samuel Knibb. However, during these first twelve years, it was a struggle for them to develop a pendulum device capable of keep accurate time. It was not until around 1668-1670 that an anchor escapement had been fully developed that, when used in conjunction with a pendulum, it allowed a greater accuracy to be achieved.
original and untouched condition. It is believed to date from the very early Longcase period of around c1668-1670 and is a Key-Wound 30-hour longcase clock movement with its original Anchor Escapement.
he 9.75-inch brass dial is beautifully engraved all over, predominately with tulip flowers including the corners and is simply stunning! The dial centre has winding holes set within two engraved flowers and there is also a lovely engraved date calendar. The 1.25-inch-wide narrow chapter ring has trident half hour markers and there are minute markers on the outside edge. The original iron hands are superb, both have a tulip design which matches the tulip theme of the dial.
he massive and heavily built plated movement with its original anchor escapement is wonderfully original throughout and has four large ringed and knopped pillars which are latched at the front. Most interestingly it has four-wheel trains like an 8-day, but with some of the pinions substituted by brass wheels with larger counts. This reduces the duration to make it 30-hr (or at least shorter than 8-day). Why this should have been done like this is a mystery but totally original arrangement and possibily experimental from a maker who was probably more used to making lantern clocks. The lovely tapered iron wheel arbours are mostly without collets and are direct to the wheels. There are two massive tapered iron arbours that have iron collets, but these are integral and are part of the iron arbour itself - just like lantern clocks of the 1650s and 1660s. There is one concave brass collet, but this mixture of iron and brass collets is original and is also found on other clocks from this period. This same original feature can be seen on another early Key-Wound 30-hour by Jonathan Chambers, c1668 illustrated in English 30 Hour Clocks by Darken &Hooper pages 43-47.
The Origins of the Earliest
Anchor Escapement Pendulum Clocks
ulips formed the theme of the engraved dials of many, if not most, English lantern clocks of the mid to late 1600s but are exceptionally uncommon during this same period on square dials of other kinds of clocks (namely longcase clocks, hooded clocks or bracket clocks). Clocks other than lantern which have this tulip-based engraving filling the dial centre and the dial corners are very few in number. Brian Loomes in one of his article entitled ‘A Tulip-dial Clock of the Seventeenth Century' states that surviving known examples all date between 1664 and 1680 and to support this theory I have seen a table clock c1660-1664 by John Hilderson with an all-over engraved tulip theme dial. And recently an important early ebony spring pendulum timepiece with alarm by Edward East, c1660 that sold at auction - also had an all-over engraved tulip theme dial.
would like to thank Brian Loomes for allowing me to use any relevant previously published articles written by him - which I have used for my own article above.
would like to thank John Robey for his help with explaining the unusual movement arrangement.
would also like to thank my friends Toby and George who scours the length and breadth of the country, helping me to locate and acquire such fascinating early clocks to illustrate on this website.
his Early Key-Wound 30-hour Clock is a historically important survivor because not only is the clock exceptionally original throughout but it was made during a period of when the first longcase clocks made with - the then new - fully developed anchor escapement first started to appear in London and the nearby surrounding areas. Because it is an unsigned example - we will probably never find out who made the clock, but it is most likely to be either a London maker or someone who was working near London.
However this is only assumption on my part and for me - the mystery of who made it 350 years ago just adds to the excitement!
Both hands have a tulip theme and match the beatifully engraved all-over dial. Note the small tulip in the stem of the minute hand and typical of other clock hands of this early period.
howing a close-up of the original iron hands.
howing a front view of movement with the dial removed.
Note that the front pillars are latched.
Note the large beautiful knopped and finned pillars.
op view showing a close-up of the massive tapoured iron arbours.
he clock is exceptionally interesting and has survived in an amazing
Pendulum Clock, c1668-c1670
Important Key-Wound 30hr
Please Contact Lee Borrett
rivate Ownership of John Carlton-Smith between 1960-2017
John Carlton-Smith purchased this important early clock in 1960 for his own private collection. The then owner (in 1960) had been a founding member of the AHS back in 1953 and was a highly respected and serious collector. John kept the clock in its lovely untouched, unrestored and original condition for almost 58 years - until December 2017 - when John sold the clock to me
About John Carlton-Smith
John Carlton-Smith has been dealing in antique clocks since 1972 including examples from the most renowned English clockmakers such as Thomas Tompion, George Graham, Joseph & John Knibb and Daniel Quare. The originality of the movements and wonderfully patinated untouched cases are hallmarks of John Carlton-Smith. John’s long experience and discerning eye mean that he has served on the clock vetting committee of some of the most important antique fairs, including the former Grosvenor House Antiques Fair, Masterpiece London and the BADA Fair.
Early 17th century Lantern Clock Wanted
he original case to this exceptionally early clock no longer survives - probably due to wood rot and decay. Therefore, I am on a mission to try and find a suitable and genuine period case dating from the late 1660s up to around the late 1690s to re-house the clock. Ideally an example with an architectural pediment. However, this may prove to be an almost impossible task as few genuine examples survive today, so a good early panelled, ultra-primitive or very interesting example is also being sought. Please Contact Me if anyone out there is aware of any such case For Sale so I can help do this wonderfully early and historically important clock justice! Please note that I am only interested in housing this clock in a genuine period case which dates between c1668-c1690s. Thank you!
(Dating from the Civil War Period 1640-1659)
n historically important
Early 30-hour, Key-Wound
Pendulum clock dating from c1668
Click an Image to Supersize
rivate Ownership of John Carlton-Smith between 1960-2017
John Carlton-Smith purchased this important early clock in 1960 for his own private collection. The then owner (in 1960) had been a founding member of the AHS back in 1953 and was a highly respected and serious collector. John kept the clock in its lovely untouched, unrestored and original condition for almost 58 years, until December 2017 when John sold the clock to me.
t was John Carlton-Smith - who back in 2010 - had first brought my attention to this historically important early key-wound 30-hour clock. It was only because of Johns kindness and generosity - which made it possible for me to acquire the clock from John's own private collection - along with another's stunning and exceptionally early London 30-hour cased example dating from c1672.
Thanks John - I am forever truly grateful!