VERY RARE GEORGE III MAHOGANY AND ENGRAVED BRASS ORRERY.

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Lot 3
VERY RARE GEORGE III MAHOGANY AND ENGRAVED BRASS ORRERY.

US$ 200,000 - 250,000
£ 150,000 - 190,000
VERY RARE GEORGE III MAHOGANY AND ENGRAVED BRASS ORRERY.
Signed "Made By Ed. Beavess, London, 1760." Most probably made for him by the workshop of Benjamin Cole, London. 11" in diameter, 10½" tall, 30" circumference at base. Sun in brass; Earth, moon, Mercury and Venus in bovine horn.

This type of geared model of the solar system, or tellurium, traces its origin to an instrument devised by George Graham and Thomas Tompion in 1712. That model was soon copied and improved by John Rowley, their neighbor in Fleet Street, and a master of Mechanics to George I. Rowley also made many instruments for Charles Boyle, 4th Earl of Orrery, who bequeathed his collection to Christ Church, Oxford in 1731. It is from the tellurium in this group that similar geared models acquired the name "Orrery." Rowley was succeeded by his former apprentice, Thomas Wright (d.1767) whose trade card depicts an orrery similar to this example. Upon Rowley's death in 1728, Wright received a Royal appointment as Instrument Maker to the Prince of Wales, later George II. Wright, in turn was succeeded by Benjamin (I) Cole (d. 1766) and his son Benjamin (II) who was active from 1766-1782.

The Coles were among the most important retailers of mathematical instruments in 18th century London with premises at Athe Orrery, next to the Globe Tavern in Fleet Street (later 136 Fleet Street). Their trade card was engraved with a magnificent "Grand Orrery." As pointed out by Turner (p 211), the highly specialized trade of instrument making in 18th century London comprised a network of "chamber masters," each producing a single type of instrument. The Coles, in effect, coordinated the manufacture and provided the retail outlet. This observation is supported by the similarity of surviving Rowley, Wright and Cole orreries. It is most probable that the small number of these instruments that do survive were made by successive generations of craftsmen in the same workshop.

www.bonhams.com/video/19795/

Aside from this instrument, Edward Beavess is known only from a 1759 newspaper advertisement as being established "two doors from the Brown Bear in Seacole Lane, Snow Hill, London." If he was a retailer, it is likely that this orrery was produced to his order in the Cole workshops. Indeed, Beavess does not appear in Taylor's compilation of mathematical practitioners. A video discussing the history and workings of this item is linked to the online description of this lot at www.bonhams.com/auctions/22964/lot/3.

LITERATURE: Calvert, H. R. Scientific Trade Cards in the Science Museum Collection. London: H.M.S.O., 1971; Clifton, Gloria. Directory of British Scientific Instrument Makers, 1550-1851. London: National Maritime Museum, 1995; Symonds, R. W. Thomas Tompion. London: Batsford, 1951; Taylor, E. G. R. The Mathematical Practitioners of Hanoverian England, 1714 - 1840. Cambridge: The University Press, 1966; Taylor, E. G. R. The Mathematical Practitioners of Tudor and Stuart England. Cambridge: The University Press, 1954; Turner, A. J. Early Scientific Instruments: Europe 1400-1800. London: Sotheby's Publications, 1987.
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VERY RARE GEORGE III MAHOGANY AND ENGRAVED BRASS ORRERY.
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