A late 17th Century ebony case longcase clock of small size by Fromanteel, London
Lot 103
A highly important third quarter of the 17th century silver mounted, ebony veneered architectural longcase clock of small size Ahasuerus Fromanteel, London. Circa 1670.
Sold for £400,800 (US$ 662,610) inc. premium
Auction Details
A highly important third quarter of the 17th century silver mounted, ebony veneered architectural longcase clock of small size Ahasuerus Fromanteel, London.  Circa 1670. A highly important third quarter of the 17th century silver mounted, ebony veneered miniature architectural longcase clock of small siz A Fromanteel, Londini Fecit.  Circa 1670. A highly important third quarter of the 17th century silver mounted, ebony veneered miniature architectural longcase clock of small siz A Fromanteel, Londini Fecit.  Circa 1670. A highly important third quarter of the 17th century silver mounted, ebony veneered miniature architectural longcase clock of small siz A Fromanteel, Londini Fecit.  Circa 1670. A highly important third quarter of the 17th century silver mounted, ebony veneered miniature architectural longcase clock of small siz A Fromanteel, Londini Fecit.  Circa 1670. A late 17th Century ebony case longcase clock of small size by Fromanteel, London A late 17th Century ebony case longcase clock of small size by Fromanteel, London A late 17th Century ebony case longcase clock of small size by Fromanteel, London A late 17th Century ebony case longcase clock of small size by Fromanteel, London
Lot Details
A highly important third quarter of the 17th century silver mounted, ebony veneered architectural longcase clock of small size
Ahasuerus Fromanteel, London. Circa 1670.
The case.
Ebony veneered and applied with exquisite mouldings to hood, trunk and sides.
The hood has an open top with vestiges of old silk and black paper covering it. Surmounted by three wooden blocks with two (later?) acorn finials (with evidence of a fourth block originally set to the rear left hand corner and a a pilot hole at the front apex that may have carried a fifth finial) over an architectural pediment with intricate mouldings to the inner and outer edges, the tympanum centred by a gilt brass cartouche of figures draped against a central shield, the dial surround below centred by a floral mount flanked by twin swags of berried laurel leaves tied with ribbons at the terminals, the glazed sides with matching mounts above the long glazed panels, the rear corners with uprights framing the rear quarter columns, the front corners set with three-quarter columns, all columns with replacement giltwood Doric capitals but retaining the original cast gilt brass bases secured via a single screw through the front corner. The shallow throat moulding above the trunk measuring 41 inches in length and 8.75 inches wide, the door measuring 39 inches in length and 7 inches wide, veneered in ebony and with three applied ebony rectangular panels to its centre, enclosed by a moulded edge mitred at each corner, the sides similarly set with three rectangular panels within moulded borders, the base of the trunk set with a half round moulding, on a plain rectangular plinth. The current skin of the base is certainly old but probably not original - holes in the underside of the base indicate that the base probably originally had a stepped base similar to that of the so called 'Clifton' case (see Dawson Drover, Parkes, Early English Clocks, 1982, plate 218). The door with original iron hinges but now with replacement lock and showing evidence of a pinned-on escutcheon originally surrounding the keyhole. Both the side panels (oak) and backboard (pine) reach unbroken to the floor. Looking up under the seatboard (fixed with hand wrought nails), one can see the remains of a simple iron spring - the remnants of a spoon lock.

The dial.
The 8.25 inch square gilt brass dial mounted with four silver spandrels, cast in the form of winged cherubs heads, their tresses of hair and facial features superbly detailed over well formed foliate scrolls flanked by a pair of wings, the reverse of each spandrel is cast with a hole which engages into a locating pin cast into each corner of the dial plate.
The chapter ring of one inch diameter and secured via four dial feet, the outer minute band with Arabic five minute numerals engraved within the band, (interestingly without engraved lines between the double-digit numerals), the Roman hour numerals interspersed by trident half hour marks on a quarter-hour track. The dial centre finely matted and set with an oval chamfered aperture revealing the silvered date dial. Signed in a confident mix of upper and lower case lettering 'A Fromanteel Londini Fecit'
The hands are finely sculpted in steel and appear to be original, each terminates just inside its relevant track. The hour with fleur de lys tip flanked by twin 'apostrophe' scrolls, on a tapering rounded shaft to a T-section and circular boss with square inner; the minute hand tapering with a central ridge terminating in a foliate scroll to a circular boss with raised centre and square aperture. Both hands show very light traces of bluing.

The movement.
The movement sits on what appear to be the original set of blocks and seatboard; the lowermost pair of pillars have holes to accept upright pins set into the blocks for secure positioning. The seatboard is nailed to the case uprights and aswell as the blocks it also carries a series of pins that held the tied ends of the gut lines and formed part of the locking spoon mechanism.
The weight driven movement comprised of rectangular plates with concave shoulders to the upper four corners, united by four pillars with knopped centres and pairs of fins, latched to the front plate with shaped latches. Each train of four wheels; the going now with anchor escapement, but originally with tic-tac. The strike train with inside countwheel strike on the bell mounted on a bell stand with shaped scrolled base mounted to the inside of the backplate. The bell 3.5 inches in diameter and 1.5 inches high and cast with two cast monograms 'AF', presumably for Ahasuerus Fromanteel. The hammer with tapering square-section shaft mounted between the plates to a shaped steel head.

Sold with; two weights - one brass clad, the other old, but plain lead; a replaced pendulum; and two (possibly original) pulleys with steel U-shaped brackets pinned to the centre arbor of each pulley. 177cms (5ft 9.5ins) high

Footnotes

  • Provenance:

    This clock has recently returned to the UK having graced a family home in the South of France since around the time of the second World War.

    The vendors family have their roots in the North of England and inside the hood, written in pencil at the back of the tympanum is
    "W Rogers, Cook St. L'pool, July 1885, JW" a similar script is also feintly visible on the back of the dial and it is thought that 'JW', at Roger's workshop was responsible for the current anchor escapement and in all probability, the giltwood capitals.

    Without doubt, had this clock been known to the great horological historians of the past, it would have featured in many of the standard reference works and exhibitions as a wonderful, largely untouched, example of the formative years of the English pendulum clock.

    A spare hole in the frontplate of the movement indicates where the original pallet arbor for the tic-tac escapement was positioned. It would have been pivotted at the rear on a bridge, the holes for which straddle the shaped aperture on the backplate. As far as we are aware, this is the only known longcase by Fromanteel that began life with such an escapement.

    The tic tac escapement was used by the best makers in some exceptional clocks of the 1670s. Thomas Tompion used it in his olivewood architectural clock made when he first came to London in circa 1671 (see Dawson, Drover, Parkes, colour plate 8). Joseph Knibb also used it in the astronomical timer he made for James Gregory, astronomer of St Andrews University in 1673 and again in 1677 in his Roman striking month-duration table clock (Dawson, Drover, Parkes plates 475-477).

    Of the few architectural longcase clocks that survive by Ahasuerus Fromanteel, this is unique in having a silver mounted dial and what appears to be the original bell.

    It is presented for sale in largely untouched condition and as such offers a unique opportunity to restore one of the most important longcase clocks to be offered at auction for generations.
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