An interesting third quarter of the 18th century gilt metal alarm timepiece Christopher Pinchbeck
Lot 35
An interesting third quarter of the 18th century gilt metal alarm timepiece Christopher Pinchbeck
Sold for £2,750 (US$ 4,570) inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
An interesting third quarter of the 18th century gilt metal alarm timepiece
Christopher Pinchbeck
The shaped pediment with applied putti and flowering basket bordering the enamel signature plate, over the 4.25in Roman and Arabic enamel dial with conforming alarm setting disc and pierced floral and foliate scroll border, raised on four foliate feet over the gadrooned rectangular base, the single spring barrel movement with anchor escapement and rectangular plates united by tapered shouldered pillars, the alarm train with pull wind spring barrel striking on a bell, the bell interupted by a lever mounted above the dial, the movement within an integral glazed case; together with a giltwood bracket, the foliate top supported by a broad volute and shaped pendant. 29.5cm (11.25in) high.

Footnotes

  • This is the fourth of these remarkable clocks to come to light. Two previously recorded examples are illustrated and discussed in Jagger, 'Royal Clocks', London 1983, figures 375 and 376 and the third was sold in these rooms on 17th June 2008, lot 127.

    The first known example is also illustrated in Brittens, 'Old Clocks and Watches and Their Makers', London, 6th Edition figure 534. It is a striking clock with enamel dial and separate base. The movement has an alarm and pull quarter repeat. This is said to have lived in the Hammersmith Mall house of George IV when Prince of Wales. At some stage it passed to Louis Welf, the maitre de cuisine at Carlton House. By the early 20th century, Britten knew it to be in the collection of Mr Hansard Watt. Jagger also adds that this clock was once in Windsor Castle.

    The second example appeared at Christies, London, June 21st 1978, lot 73. It again, is a striking clock with enamel dial. The going barrel movement with tapered plates had an incomplete alarm train, it had been converted to anchor escapement and lacked the repeating facility.

    While all three are very similar, there are minor differences. The bezels are all different - they use different patterns of scrolls and flowerheads and the current lot is more finely pierced than either of the other two examples. Each of the dial plates has a slightly different silhouette - the difference is most noticeable behind the rear of the cherub's legs. These differences lead to the assumption that these were not stock items, but were quite likely made to order. The current lot is the only timepiece, so perhaps was commissioned for bedroom use?

    It is assumed that Christopher Junior (1710-1783) learnt his trade from his father and what is certain is that he would have fought hard to nurture the royal connections that his father had forged. In a bold move, on his fathers death in 1732, he let his brother Edward continue working from their fathers premises and in a show of young self confidence, moved to nearby premises under the newly named 'Sign of Pinchbecks Head'. Both brothers continued to make ingenious toys, sometimes with musical and/or automata movements, as well as clocks and watches. Christopher was not simply involved in 'novelty' wares, however. He traded under the title 'Watchmaker to the King' and it is recorded that in 1766 he purchased a pocket watch with compensation curb for George III from Ferdinand Berthoud. He also worked with Eardley Norton on the multi-dialled astronomical clock in the Royal Collection, the bill of account even being made out to Pinchbeck on 5th July 1765. A few years later, he supplied his own astronomical clock. Both of these are in the current Royal Collection. By the 1770s and '80s his business had reached a point where he had a semi-permanent exhibition of his clocks, watches and mechanical contrivances above his shop in Cockspur Street. He died there in 1783.
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