A unique and important third quarter 18th Century mahogany-cased longcase clock with maintaining power by John Owen of Llanrwst Circa 1772 sold with two weights, pendulum, key and winder
Lot 600
A unique and important third quarter 18th Century mahogany-cased longcase clock with maintaining power by John Owen of Llanrwst Circa 1772 sold with two weights, pendulum, key and winder
Sold for £12,600 (US$ 20,223) inc. premium

Lot Details
A unique and important third quarter 18th Century mahogany-cased longcase clock with maintaining power by John Owen of Llanrwst Circa 1772 sold with two weights, pendulum, key and winder A unique and important third quarter 18th Century mahogany-cased longcase clock with maintaining power by John Owen of Llanrwst Circa 1772 sold with two weights, pendulum, key and winder A unique and important third quarter 18th Century mahogany-cased longcase clock with maintaining power by John Owen of Llanrwst Circa 1772 sold with two weights, pendulum, key and winder
A unique and important third quarter 18th Century mahogany-cased longcase clock with maintaining power by John Owen of Llanrwst
Circa 1772
Having a 13-inch broken-arched silvered dial, the dodecagonal chapter ring with Roman hours and Arabic minutes flanked by foliate half-hour divisions, framing a foliage-engraved chinoiserie centre and engraved maker's name "John Owen Llanrwst", all within foliage-engraved spandrels, the arch with engraved shield of the Thirteenth Tribe of Wales, the high quality knopped five-pillar movement with anchor escapement, striking on a bell, and additionally employing maintaining power during winding, the fine quality Cuban mahogany case having a swan-neck pediment with carved disc terminals and three brass ball-and-spire finials over fluted turned columns, the double-arched long trunk door between fluted quadrant columns, the canted base on bracket feet, 227cm high (sold with two weights, pendulum, key and winder)

Footnotes

  • Provenance: By direct descent from Mr and Mrs Williams of Bolton to the present owner. Mr Williams inherited the contents of Penloyn, a 17th Century house, later purchased by the doctor, apothecary and surgeon Peter Titley in 1765. Titley became landlord of Tyn-y-pwll, the house and workshop used by the Owen family in Denbigh Street.

    Literature: Brown, Colin & Mary, The Clockmakers of Llanrwst, Bridge Books, 1993, pp. 199-205, and figs. 140-144, from which the following information is abridged:

    "Not only is the clock a fine and fascinating specimen in its own right, but it is also the only Llanrwst clock for which we have a reliable provenance back to the date when it first left John Owen's workshop...one of its most notable features is the large coat of arms engraved on the arch of the dial. They, in fact, are the heraldic bearings of the thirteenth Noble Tribe of Wales, the tribe of Ednowain Bendew, Lord of Tengaingle, who is said to have been chief of the fifteen tribes in 1079...We know that when Peter Titley came to Llanrwst he embarked upon building up an estate and attained a position of considerable importance in the town. Adopting the coat of arms of the thirteenth tribe, if indeed he had no right to it by birth, would have been in keeping with his social aspirations...there is good reason to believe that this particular clock was made by John Owen in the early 1770s for Peter Titley, and that it has been in the family ever since, for most of the time at Penloyn. To the horologist, the most extraordinary part of this clock is the dial...the dial-plate alone weighs no less than 9½ lbs! It achieves this astonishing weight because it exceeds ¼" thickness at its centre, tapering away to slightly less than 1/8" at its edges. Possibly because of its huge weight, the dial is not attached directly to the movement by means of four conventional dial feet: instead it is attached to a brass false-plate, which, in turn, is fixed to the movement. This false-plate is made of sheet brass and is in the form of a large x-shaped cross attached to the dial-plate by small screws. The dial is notable for a number of reasons...the engraved designs are truly remarkable and beautiful...it is evident that this is the handiwork of the Good Engraver...it is interesting to note that the maker's name is off-centre. What is more, John Owen, as noted in earlier examples, has drilled the winding holes through his own name. Only one other clock by John Owen with centre-seconds has been found. The movement to which this extraordinary dial is attached is also of considerable interest. It has five pillars. Originally, it had a dead-beat escapement as is usual when centre-seconds hands are fitted. Later, the centre seconds hand and the 'scape wheel must have proved troublesome because it was converted to an anchor escapement and the bridge was dispensed with, the 'scape wheel arbor being now mounted, conventionally, between the plates. The repeat-spring is also very unusual for an Owen clock: it is mounted horizontally across the top of the front plate, a variation forced on John Owen by the presence, on the front plate, of the additional wheel required to drive the minute hand. The final, and most unusual feature of this movement, is the maintaining mechanism, necessary to keep the clock going during winding. It consists of a long, horizontal counterweighted steel lever with a detent attached. When the string, hanging down inside the case, is pulled, the detent engages with the teeth of the third wheel and the counterweight is sufficient to drive the escapement during winding. This very primitive mechanism is reminiscent of the method often used in the movements of turret clocks. The stately and somewhat sombre case is made in solid Cuban mahogany. Mahogany was very rarely used in Llanrwst, we have only found two other cases made in this exotic timber. Initially, it was assumed that the case had, in all likelihood, been bought from Liverpool or Chester where the use of mahogany was much more usual. But, eventually, it was realised that its design was virtually identical to one or two cases in oak which, without doubt, had been made in Llanrwst. John Owen's case-maker, therefore, must have been sent away to Liverpool or Chester for the mahogany planks from which this special order was executed.

    Undoubtedly, the Titley clock is the most interesting and most unusual of all the clocks found during our survey."
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