A fine and rare late 19th century burr walnut seconds-beating table chronometer. Exhibited at the International Inventions Exhibition, London 1885 Thomas Mercer, London & St. Albans
Lot 33W
A fine and rare late 19th century burr walnut seconds-beating table chronometer. Exhibited at the International Inventions Exhibition, London 1885 Thomas Mercer, London & St. Albans
Sold for £22,500 (US$ 37,818) inc. premium
Auction Details
A fine and rare late 19th century burr walnut seconds-beating table chronometer. Exhibited at the International Inventions Exhibition, London 1885 Thomas Mercer, London & St. Albans A fine and rare late 19th century burr walnut seconds-beating table chronometer. Exhibited at the International Inventions Exhibition, London 1885 Thomas Mercer, London & St. Albans A fine and rare late 19th century burr walnut seconds-beating table chronometer. Exhibited at the International Inventions Exhibition, London 1885 Thomas Mercer, London & St. Albans A fine and rare late 19th century burr walnut seconds-beating table chronometer. Exhibited at the International Inventions Exhibition, London 1885 Thomas Mercer, London & St. Albans A fine and rare late 19th century burr walnut seconds-beating table chronometer. Exhibited at the International Inventions Exhibition, London 1885 Thomas Mercer, London & St. Albans A fine and rare late 19th century burr walnut seconds-beating table chronometer. Exhibited at the International Inventions Exhibition, London 1885 Thomas Mercer, London & St. Albans A fine and rare late 19th century burr walnut seconds-beating table chronometer. Exhibited at the International Inventions Exhibition, London 1885 Thomas Mercer, London & St. Albans A fine and rare late 19th century burr walnut seconds-beating table chronometer. Exhibited at the International Inventions Exhibition, London 1885 Thomas Mercer, London & St. Albans A fine and rare late 19th century burr walnut seconds-beating table chronometer. Exhibited at the International Inventions Exhibition, London 1885 Thomas Mercer, London & St. Albans
Lot Details
A fine and rare late 19th century burr walnut seconds-beating table chronometer. Exhibited at the International Inventions Exhibition, London 1885
Thomas Mercer, London & St. Albans
The exceptional movement of eight day duration, with substantial spotted plates united by four turned and finned pillars screwed front and back supporting the full length platform surmounted by the freesprung blued steel helical spring of 14 turns to a large cut and compensated bimetallic balance and Earnshaw type detent escapement, the chain fusee with maintaining power to very finely cut wheels of six and eight crossings, all with high count pinions, the contrate wheel with triple screwed jewelled chaton, the movement protected by a one-piece lacquered brass dust cover, mounted to the dial via four turned dial feet secured with blued steel screws, the 13 inch one piece silvered dial with concentric Arabic minute band enclosing twin subsidiaries for running seconds (with Observatory marks) and Roman hours containing the state of wind sector marked 0-8, with blued steel hands, the case with stepped cornice over a dentil moulding, capped canted corners and an ogee moulded base, the inside of the door applied with four paper panels giving dates of cleaning, the first dated June 1893, the last March 1995, and a fifth label giving the wheel train count as follows

Scape wheel 12, pinion 16
Fourth wheel 80, pinion 16
Third wheel 120, pinion 18
Centre wheel 144, pinion 15
Main wheel 180
Hour wheel (Between main plates) 180
Up + Down Pinion (On Fusee Square) 50
" Intermediate wheel 100, Pinion 10
" Wheel 100.
69cms (2ft 3ins) high.

Footnotes

  • Following the International Fisheries Exhibition of 1883, the Prince of Wales expressed a desire to hold an International Inventions Exhibition in the year 1885. The batch of new patent acts which had recently been introduced to assist poorly paid inventors seemed to provide a great opportunity to demonstrate publicly the progress made since the last Great International Exhibition of 1862.

    Queen Victoria was patron and Prince Albert, President of the Organising Committee. There was a strictly limited number of places available due to lack of space, despite large additions to the buildings. The number of applications for places was so great that special committees were appointed to carefully scrutinise all applications. As such, 'only those inventions which appeared to be of sufficient public interest or importance were admitted'. See International Inventions Exhibition: Official Guide (1885), William Clowes and Sons Limited, London, 1885, p. 5, 41, 45-46. See also Christine MacLeod, Heroes of Invention. Technology, Liberalism and British Identity 1750-1914, Cambridge University Press, 2007, p. 374.

    The Exhibition opened in South Kensington on 4th May 1885 with Austria-Hungary, Italy, Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom all participating. Alongside the inventions, there were historical exhibits and attractions such as pleasure gardens, fountains and music. When it closed in November 1885, three and three-quarters of a million people had visited. In the course of our research, an original Season Ticket for the Exhibition was unearthed and is illustrated here for interest. It is not included with the lot - see fig. 1

    Clocks and Watches were group 27 in the exhibition and were housed in the South Central Gallery which was also featured furniture and fancy goods, jewellery, photography, philosophical instruments and chemistry. When referring to the Clocks and Watches group, the exhibition's official guide states 'many of the best known watch and clock makers show specimens of beautifully made English timepieces. There are also a few turret and chiming clocks'.

    The grandson of the original exhibitor, F.A. Mercer wrote a letter to Antiquarian Horology in December 1973 asking if readers knew any more about this clock or its twin; apparently two such were made for the Exhibition. The second was later unearthed by Derek Roberts circa 2004 in America, signed for Milledge and Sons, Edinburgh.

    Literature
    Mercer, 'Mercer Chronometers', Brant Wright Associates, 1978, fig. 12 and colour plate 3.



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  1. Charles Crisford
    Specialist - Clocks
    Bonhams
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  2. James Stratton
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    Bonhams
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    United Kingdom
    Work +44 207 468 8364
    FaxFax: +44 207 468 8370