Edward Stanton, a late 17th century night clock movement with painted dial
Lot 147
An exceptionally rare and important English spring driven table night timepiece movement and dial Edward Stanton, London
Sold for £28,800 (US$ 36,355) inc. premium

Lot Details
An exceptionally rare and important English spring driven table night timepiece movement and dial  E Edward Stanton, a late 17th century night clock movement with painted dial Edward Stanton, a late 17th century night clock movement with painted dial Edward Stanton, a late 17th century night clock movement with painted dial
An exceptionally rare and important English spring driven table night timepiece movement and dial
Edward Stanton, London
The dial:
The arched painted dial constructed in three parts; a pierced brass arch, a shaped brass central section and a lower section of wood.

The pierced brass arch decorated with clouds and cut with Roman numerals to mark the quarters, tear-drop shaped apertures for the half quarters and each minute denoted by a curved indentation across the upper edge, fixed to the middle section of the dial from the rear by a pair of brass brackets screwed to the rear.

The central section with shaped upper edge over a painting of neo-classical buildings infront of the waters edge, with two soldiers conversing on a bridge infront of a group of three men hauling an obscured object from under the arches of the bridge.

The painted wooden panel depicting an on-looker, his arm resting on a staff.

Behind the three-part dial rotates a 7.75 inch circular painted brass dial cut with two apertures, one emanating sun rays, another with a crescent moon through which the hour would be shown - the hour numeral chain is now lacking but most of the of the original painted ground is still intact. The whole dial affixed to the movement by four latched dial feet.

The movement:
The seven-sided brass plates with pointed upper section and flattened base, united by six latched pillars with central knops and sharply defined rings, with large spring barrel and gut fusee terminating in a later (19th century) anchor escapement, the central hour disc supported to the frontplate by a pair of (19th century) rollers, the backplate signed 'Edward Stanton, London' in a cloth cartouche set within a flowing pattern of mainly tulips and other flowers

All set on a seatboard raised on later brass ball feet Total height 38cm (15in), width 25cm (10in). Dial size 35.5 (14in) max x 25cm (9.75in) wide.


  • English night clocks are extremely rare, with probably less than a dozen known today. Their use was not without danger and the buying public, particularly in the capital, were probably rather anxious of their suitability in the immediate aftermath of the Great Fire of London. The introduction of repeating systems in the mid 1670s soon meant that night clocks were an unnecessary liability.

    Makers known to have supplied night clocks, both longcase and spring driven, include most of the great early makers including Fromanteel, East, Tompion, Knibb, Jones and Seignior. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first example by Edward Stanton.

    Three basic systems were used for telling the time at night. Type one used a revolving circular dial with apertures cut for the numerals acting against a static hand - see the example by John Hilderson, exhibit 12 in Horological Masterworks. The second system was favoured by Fromanteel and Knibb and used two subsidiary dials mounted opposite one another on an hour disc with a two-hour period of rotation set behind the main dial - one dial carried even numbers, the other odd. As each hour approached a pin indexed the required hour into position. The third system is the one used in the current lot, whereby a ten-sided wheel carries a linked chain of numerals into position

    Each system relied on at least one, and sometimes three lamps mounted at the back of a specially constructed case, complete with ventilation holes and chimney. Dawson, Drover and Parkes mention that the cases used were sometimes traditional standard table clock cases modified so as to allow for the chimney or for improved air flow.

    The pointed top of the movement plates of the current lot are reminiscent of the plates used by Edward East for his longcase night clock illustrated in Roberts, 'British Longcase Clocks', Schiffer, 1990, Figures 99 A, B and C, but with additional angled lowermost corners. The East is also shown with a cowl to protect the movement from ingress of smoke and detritus. The seatboard of the Stanton clock shows a pair of L-shaped grooves cut into the base, either side of the movement - it is quite possible that some form of cover slotted in these to protect the movement.

    Edward Stanton was the second clockmaker to sign the Clockmakers Charter (see the inside back cover of Dawson, Drover, Parks). He was apprenticed to Francis Bowen and then to Nathaniel Allen and obtained his Freedom in January 1662. In 1673 Henry Jones accused Stanton of removing Jones' signature from a clock and replacing it with Robert Seigniors. No action was taken by the Company but the story does illustrate well how inter-connected the craft was at this time. Stanton was an Assistant within the Company in 1682. He was obviously a successful business man as in January 1689 he offered to lend the the Clockmakers Company £500 at an interest rate of 4%; his offer was turned down. He was Warden from 1693 and Master in 1697. It is thought that he died in 1715
Auction information

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