George Graham no. 707; A fine early 18th century walnut longcase clock
Lot 104W
A very fine 18th century walnut longcase clock of exceptional provenance and with original numbered crank winding handle George Graham, London, number 707
Sold for £175,250 (US$ 274,231) inc. premium

Lot Details
A very fine 18th century walnut longcase clock of exceptional provenance and with original numbered crank winding handle George Graham, London, number 707 A very fine 18th century walnut longcase clock of exceptional provenance and with original numbered crank winding handle George Graham, London, number 707 A very fine 18th century walnut longcase clock of exceptional provenance and with original numbered crank winding handle George Graham, London, number 707 A very fine 18th century walnut longcase clock of exceptional provenance and with original numbered crank winding handle George Graham, London, number 707 A very fine 18th century walnut longcase clock of exceptional provenance and with original numbered crank winding handle George Graham, London, number 707
A very fine 18th century walnut longcase clock of exceptional provenance and with original numbered crank winding handle
George Graham, London, number 707
The case with caddy top over pierced wooden sound frets supported on brass-mounted Doric columns, set to each side with the pierced sound frets depicting a Green Man mask over a running pattern of interlaced foliate and other scrolls, the rectangular trunk door measuring 40.5inches in length and with moulded border, crisply stamped twice on the inner edge 707, the trunk sides inlaid with panels of walnut within boxwood and ebony-line borders, the base panel similarly inlaid on a double apron and block feet (caddy and block feet later), the 12 inch square brass dial signed along the lower edge Geo: Graham London with four double-screwed spandrels depicting Indian mask heads within openwork scrolls and foliage, the silvered chapter ring with outer Arabic minutes and inner Roman hours with floating lozenge half hour marks, the finely matted centre with subsidiary seconds dial, chamfered date aperture with pin-hole adjustment and applied silvered oval nameplate and blued steel hands, with latched dial feet; the movement with substantial plates united by five heavy knopped latched pillars, with bolt and shutter maintaining power, deadbeat escapement with the front pivot set in a brass block, to a long brass crutch with screwed-in steel pin, the backplate numbered along the central lower edge '707'. The pendulum rod made of brass and with a flattened rectangular section secured to the bob via a pin and screw, the lenticular brass-faced bob lead filled and terminating in a shaped index reading against a silvered engraved rating nut marked 5-10-15-22 2.29m (7ft 2ins) high.

Footnotes

  • Literature:
    Evans, Thomas Tompion at the Dial and Three Crowns, Ticehurst 2006, p84.
    This clock has been in the same house since new and is offered for sale by a family descendant of the original purchaser. As such, it offers a unique opportunity to acquire a clock that was last sold in 1733. The clock is in generally excellent condition, with original crank winder and particularly crisp number punches to the door edge.


    Little is known about the early life of the extraordinary watch and clock maker, George Graham (circa 1673-1751). He was probably around fourteen years old when apprenticed to clockmaker Henry Aske in 1688. His indenture informs that by then his father, also named George, had died and that his previous home had been Fordlands in Cumberland. In 1696 having gained his freedom, the young George Graham joined the workforce of Thomas Tompion (1639-1713) at the Dial and Three Crowns on the corner of Water lane and Fleet Street. By 1696 Tompion's business was thriving and produced the finest clocks and watches in a distinctive 'house style', each piece with its own unique number. September 25th 1704 saw the marriage of George Graham and his master's niece, Elizabeth Tompion, at St. Mary-le-Bow Church.
    At this time Edward Banger (also married into the master's family)
    was Tompion's business partner and had been so for around three years. But the partnership was ill-fated and was abruptly ended circa 1708. Whatever the reason behind Banger's sudden fall from grace, it ultimately placed Graham as Tompion's successor. Close to the end of Tompion's life, he elevated George Graham to business partner. During this period, Graham's intellect and interest in astronomy first shines through the 'house style', when he produced an accurate three dimensional mechanical model of the Earth, Moon and Sun. His device became commonly known as the Orrery. After Tompion's death in 1713, Graham continued the business in the same manner as his late partner at the Dial and Three Crowns. In 1720 he moved premises across Fleet a little nearer to Fleet Bridge, retaining the sign of the Dial and Three Crowns. The 1720s were a highly significant an productive period for George Graham. In the early years of that decade he served as Master of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers as well as being elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. Graham developed the cylinder escapement and first applied it to his watches circa 1726, apparently abandoning use of the verge escapement entirely. Graham did not claim invention of the cylinder escapement. Like the dead-beat escapement in clocks, the cylinder was an improvement of an earlier design. Like his late master Graham made a number of important astronomical instruments. By applying his skill as a watchmaker to the precise construction of astronomical instruments, he was able to create telescopes of unprecedented quality. Two notable examples are: the eight-foot mural quadrant made for second Astronomer Royal, Edmond Halley and the twelve-foot zenith sector made for James Bradley. Bradley used his sector to identify two astronomical phenomena: the aberration of light and the subtle wobbling of the Earth on its axis (nutation). His frequent election to the council of the Royal Society gives a good indication of the high regard his contemporaries in the Society had for him. Graham named two of his workmen, Samuel Barkley and Thomas Colley, as executors in his will. He also mentioned that they lived in his house
    on Fleet Street. Barkley and Colley carried on the business as partners, though Samuel Barkley died soon after in June 1753. It is interesting to note that Thomas Colley named his son, born in 1756, George Graham Colley.
    We are grateful to Jeremy Evans and Rory McEvoy in their help in compiling this footnote.
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