Tompion number 215 bracket clock
Lot 108*
An exceptional miniature ebony striking bracket clock Thomas Tompion, London, number 215. The dial and movement circa 1693, the case later.
Sold for £169,250 (US$ 286,487) inc. premium
Lot Details
An exceptional miniature ebony striking bracket clock
Thomas Tompion, London, number 215. The dial and movement circa 1693, the case later.
The case measuring just 11 inches (28cms ) to the top of the thistle-bud handle on foliate pommels to the caddy top over a moulded cornice and three pierced wood sound frets over glazed panels to a plinth base and block feet, the front door set with gilt brass bellflower escutcheons, the signed gilt brass dial measuring 5 inches by 4.5 inches and set to the upper two corners with silvered subisidiary dials for rise and fall regulation and strike/not strike, flanking the three-line copperplate signature Thomas Tompion London, with blued steel hands, the three dial feet latched to the frontplate, the movement consisting of plates measuring 5.5inches by 4.5inches united by seven knopped and ringed, latched pillars, with pivotted verge escapement and inside rack strike on the bell, the steel rise and fall arbor carrying the pendulum, the backplate with a single line border enclosing the engraved design of foliate scrolls, swags and fruit, signed in an oval foliate cartouche 'Thomas Tompion, London, Fecit' and numbered 215 along the lower edge Height to the top of the raised handle 28cms (11ins) high.

Footnotes

  • This delightful little Thomas Tompion table-clock is numbered 215, and it is therefore the earliest of a group of clocks, numbering fewer than a dozen, which were made to almost standard proportions but in a much smaller size. All of those listed are of standard phase 2 design with cushion dome, thistle-bud handle and bellflower escutcheons. Number 215, made c.1693, is unique within this group as it is the only one whose design did not incorporate repeating work.

    Having become accustomed to Tompion's larger standard table-clocks, the smallest model is often viewed by modern collectors as being particularly desirable. Tompion's workshop clearly had no problems producing them, but they seem to have been made only in small groups or batches. Even smaller examples by Tompion are known, of course, but their cases are non-standard – indeed, three of them are of metal, not wood.

    It is likely that Tompion would have deemed it uneconomical to produce castings for just one non-standard commission, and probably had multiple sets cast each time an unusual item was required. To illustrate this there are listed two small blued-steel and gilt travelling timepieces with alarm and repeat of c.1683, numbered 21 and 23 ( number 22 is a standard phase 1 timepiece), and, similarly, there are at least two small timepieces with repeat of c.1684 with offset winding – numbered 47 and 51.

    Number 215 is the earliest of the next group – all of them clocks – for which at least ten sets of castings were produced. Perhaps other examples have yet to be discovered. The back-plates of most of the group measure just 5¾" x 4½" (14.5 x 11.5cms), but that of no.215 is slightly smaller at 5½" x 4½" (14 x 11.5cms).

    The back-plate and dial of the current lot display engraving of the highest quality, by the hand of Graver 155, who also engraved the well-known front-plate of the Mostyn Tompion.


    An English repair mark of June 1779 (name not deciphered) suggests the clock was then still in this country, but another of 1911 shows that it was then in Austria. Another states that it was repaired by Charles Hobson in 1974. Other repair marks found read "D 18[over]12 1870" and "P 15[over12] 1876"?;



    Provenance:
    RA Lee, Connoisseur 12:1973.
    Advertised for sale (box number) AH 6:1981, p.670.
    Christie's, New York, 26:10:1987, lot 273, various properties.
    Sotheby's London, 22:3:2005, lot 238.


    Exhibited:
    Burlington House by De Havilland, 3:1982, illustrated in catalogue.
    Private collection., U.S.A.
    Spring Driven Table Clocks of the Seventeenth Century, American Section of The A.H.S. held at Sotheby's New York, 6:1986, Horological Dialogues, vol.2, 1986 (the catalogue), no.23, p.66/7.

    With thanks to Jeremy Evans for his help in researching this lot.
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