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.
s a collector of early provincial 30-hour pendulum clocks
rom the books, journals and internet articles I have read on the subject, I have discovered 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. However, during the following twelve years, it was a struggle to develop a pendulum device capable of keeping accurate time and it was not until around 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. It was possibly the clockmaker William Clement who by 1670 was making and selling the first long pendulum clocks with a fully developed anchor escapement. Then for a period afterwards it was initially limited to the work of the Fromanteel family and their immediate associates which included Edward East, John Hilderson and Samuel Knibb.
superb original condition. It is believed to date from c1668-1670 and is a Key-Wound 30-hour long pendulum movement with its original and exceptionally early - fully developed 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 clockmaker who was probably more used to making balance wheel 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
Note the large beautiful knopped and finned pillars.
op view showing a close-up of the massive tapoured iron arbours.
Pendulum Clock, c1668-c1670
Important Key-Wound 30hr
he clock is housed in a wonderfully small proportioned architectural ebonised fruitwood case which has a rising hood with spoon and clip. The case is fashioned with ebonised pear wood veneers onto a pine carcass. The panelled trunk door with iron hinges has a brass escutcheon and iron lock. The oak seatboard supports two rectangular movement blocks in which the clock sits. It stands approximately 6ft 6 inches high.
Angels Head or Angels and Devils Head
Early Lantern Clock with an
Early Lantern Clock c1620-c1659
(I am seeking an example that has not been recently restored.)
(I am seeking an example that has not been recently restored.)
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.
howing a close-up of the original and very early fully developed anchor.
ohn Carlton-Smith, in 2010, first brought my attention to this exceptionally early and interesting clock and due to John's kindness and generosity, I was later able to aquire the clock from his private collection - along with another stunning and exceptionally early London 30-hour cased example dating from c1672.
Thanks John - I am forever truly grateful!
Please Contact Lee Borrett
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 and exceptionally interesting movement arrangement.
howing a close up of the narrow 1.2 inch wide chapter ring.
rivate Ownership of John Carlton-Smith between 1960-2017
John Carlton-Smith purchased this 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 for almost 60 years until January 2018 when I purchased the clock from John for my own private collection..
his Early Key-Wound 30-hour Clock is a historically important survivor because it was made during a period of when the very first long pendulum clocks were being made with - the then brand new - fully developed anchor escapement, being sold in London and the nearby surrounding areas. Because it is an unsigned example - we will probably never find out who made the clock, but in my opinion it is most likely to be a provincial lantern clockmaker 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.
with the dial and bell removed. Note the latched pillars.
howing a front view of movement
Click an Image to Supersize
howing the clocks fabulous two peice pendulum.
he clock illustrated is exceptionally interesting and has survived in a
would like to thank Richard White for his expertise and help with regards to the clocks superb architectural ebonised fruitwood case. Richard is one of the most experienced clock case restorers alive today. He has spent over 30 years restoring and conserving some of the finest clock cases in the land and has worked for many top dealers including the late Anthony Woodburn.
nd finally, I would also like to thank my clock friends Toby, Thomas and George who scour the length and breadth of the country, helping me to locate and acquire such fascinating early clocks to illustrate on this website.
howing the beautifully engraved
9.75-inch square brass dial.
howing one of the engraved tulip flower corners.
Pendulum Clock, c1668
n early Key-Wound
fruitwood case. 6ft,6"tall
howing the ebonised