A HIGHLY IMPORTANT LATE 17TH CENTURY SILVER-MOUNTED EBONY STRIKING AND QUARTER REPEATING MINIATURE TABLE CLOCK, WITH ROYAL PROVENANCE, KNOWN AS THE 'Q' CLOCK, THE SMALLEST EBONY CASED CLOCK BY THOMAS TOMPION IN THE WORLD Thomas Tompion, London, number 222.

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Lot 103
A HIGHLY IMPORTANT LATE 17TH CENTURY SILVER-MOUNTED EBONY STRIKING AND QUARTER REPEATING MINIATURE TABLE CLOCK, WITH ROYAL PROVENANCE, KNOWN AS THE 'Q' CLOCK, THE SMALLEST EBONY CASED CLOCK BY THOMAS TOMPION IN THE WORLD
Thomas Tompion, London, number 222.

Sold for £ 1,935,062 (US$ 2,496,629) inc. premium
A HIGHLY IMPORTANT LATE 17TH CENTURY SILVER-MOUNTED EBONY STRIKING AND QUARTER REPEATING MINIATURE TABLE CLOCK, WITH ROYAL PROVENANCE, KNOWN AS THE 'Q' CLOCK, THE SMALLEST EBONY CASED CLOCK BY THOMAS TOMPION IN THE WORLD
Thomas Tompion, London, number 222.
The case
Of Phase Two design and surmounted by a unique silver folding, facetted scrolled handle with foliate terminals mounted in a pair of pommels, the caddy top mounted to each of the four sides with pierced silver mounts depicting a central urn of flowers over a Green Man mask issuing floral swags, the whole central section framed by the profile figureheads of the Royal Supporters, the Lion and the Unicorn, the former with bared teeth and shaggy mane, the latter with upright horn, the cornice of silver and with an intricate profile over a silver lined front door (both doors with keys and brass locks). The sides set with a pair of matching pierced silver sound frets centred by a male mask within an elaborate symmetrical pattern of foliate scrolls, based on the designs of Daniel Marot enclosed by a silver moulded frame, on a silver-banded base set within moulded borders, the base banded in silver. The whole wooden section of the case is separate from the metal base and lifts off for access via a unique locking system. In order to gain entry to the movement, the front door has to be unlocked so that a lever below the VI position can be engaged. This releases a pierced brass boss below the case which in turn releases a pair of hinged levers locating into pins set in the sides of the case.

The dial
the visible dial plate measuring 79mm x 85mm (3 1/8ths of an inch x 3 5/16ths of an inch), set to the upper left hand corner with a silvered sector marked in single units 0-20 to activate the rise and fall regulation; the upper right hand corner with a matching sector marked S and N to select Strike or No Strike, both sectors with blued steel hands and engraved foliate decoration flanking the engraved signature
Tho: Tompion, London, Fecit. The silvered chapter ring with outer Arabic minutes marked in fives and interspersed with engraved fleur- de lyse to denote the half-quarters, the Roman numerals enclosed by a minute band and with standing 'meeting arrow head' half hour markers, around a quarter hour track, the finely matted centre set to the upper half with a shaped aperture of individual design backed by a blued steel section to highlight the beating mock pendulum, the whole dial mounted with four silver mounts of unique design, with original blued steel hands. The dial plate measuring 80mm x 85mm and cast with a ridge along its upper edge to accommodate one of the three turned dial feet that latch to the front plate of the movement.

The movement
Of eight day duration and with twin chain-driven fusees. The plates measure 105mm x 84mm and are united by seven knopped and ringed pillars, with just 30mm between the plates, all seven pillars latched to the frontplate.
The going train with verge escapement, the pendulum with steel rod and turned brass lenticular bob, suspended from a pivoted shaped brass bar, the open end secured by an engraved brass faceplate with a U-shaped terminal centred around a rotating eccentric steel endpiece to enable the bar to rise and fall to alter the length of the pendulum.

The striking train sounding the hours on a bell mounted above the movement, the hammer with short steel shaft and shaped steel head. Some of the striking system, including the snail, are cut from thin steel sheet. The quarters are repeated on demand by pulling on either of the two cords that sit on each side of the case, each 15 minute interval past the current hour is represented by a single hammer blow on a bell mounted on the frontplate, behind the VI position. The two steel repeat levers are pivoted on the backplate, one on a post, the other with engraved straight footed cock.

The backplate is signed in an oval palm frond cartouche 'Tho Tompion London fecit' within an elaborate symmetrical pattern of foliate scrolls and floral swags, engraved by Graver 155, with the very rare '?' flourish to the 'i', found only on one other clock. The clock is numbered 222 on along the lower edge, dating it to 1693.
To the top of the raised handle 19.7cms (7.75ins).

Footnotes

  • PROVENANCE
    King William III & Queen Mary II, Kensington Palace
    By repute one of the Royal Dukes of York
    The case and movement probably separated by 1845, if not earlier.
    The Case
    By family repute purchased in France by the grandparents of Mrs F.S. Alston of Lincolnshire
    By descent to her son the Rev. R.W. Alston, Curator of the Watts Gallery, Compton, Guildford
    Sale, Sotheby's, London, 8 July 1949, Lot 62 (with associated movement) to Courtenay A. Ilbert

    The Movement
    Dr Douglas Heath, M.D., M.R.C.S., F.R.C.P. of The Cedars, Edgbaston Sale, Christie's, London, 17 June 1937, Lot 124, 325ngs to Courtenay A. Ilbert
    Courtenay A. Ilbert (1888-1956) reunited the case and movement in 1949
    Bought by the Trustees of Sir James Caird, circa 1953
    Sale, Christie's London, 30 June 1993, Lot 275 (for £441,500)
    Anonymous Private Collection, USA
    Mr Colin Clive from 1998

    EXHIBITED
    Victoria & Albert Museum, Festival of Britain, 1951
    The Science Museum, London
    British Clockmakers' Heritage Exhibition, 1952, Exhibit no. 126
    Victoria & Albert Museum, 1968-1993
    The British Museum, 2001-2014

    LITERATURE
    H.A Lloyd: The English Domestic Clock – its Evolution and History, 1938, frontispiece & fig.22
    P.G. Dawson: Silver Decoration on the English Bracket Clock, Antique Collector, July/August 1950, fig.12
    R.W. Symonds: Two Clocks in Tight Cases, Horological Journal, March 1951 p.172, figs.145/6
    Watchmaker, Jeweller and Silversmith, March 1972, p.68
    Catalogue of the British Clockmakers' Heritage Exhibition, Science Museum, 1952, Exhibit no. 126
    Horological Journal, July 1952, p.460
    E. Hillary, The Ilbert Collection, Horological Journal, June 1955
    The Private Collection of Sir James Caird, privately published, 1955, p.22-23
    Antiquarian Horology June 1959
    Percy G. Dawson: Back-plates of English Domestic Spring Clocks, The Antique Collector, April 1963, fig.8
    Eric Bruton: Dictionary of Clocks and Watches, 1963, ill. dust jacket
    Catalogue of the BADA Golden Jubilee Exhibition held at the Victoria & Albert Museum, May 1968, Exhibit no. 5
    Dawson, Drover and Parkes: Early English Clocks, 1982, fig.629
    C. Jagger: Royal Clocks, 1983, pp.68-71
    Richard Garnier: Striking Royal Connections, Country Life, December 1990, pp.121-28, fig.4
    Sale catalogue, Christie's London, 30 June 1993, Lot 275 (sold for £441,500)
    Clocks magazine, August 1993, p.44
    Antiquarian Horology, Summer 1994
    Sebastian Whitestone: Tompion's Smallest Clock Copied and Contemplated, Antiquarian Horology, December 2000, p.617
    Evans, Carter, Wright: Thomas Tompion 300 Years, 2013, pp.192-93, pp.222-23, pp.343037
    We are grateful to Jeremy Evans for his help in preparing this catalogue entry.

    This remarkable clock is the smallest ebony clock that Tompion ever produced. Made for Queen Mary and King William as part of their re-modelling of Kensington Palace, it was conceived as an unique clock for an unique Royal Couple. William and Mary were joint Monarchs, and the clock has its own 'partner', known as the 'K' clock: a metal cased travelling clock with dual balance and pendulum control, also set with identical silver mounts featuring the Royal Lion and Unicorn supporters (see illustration on page 18).
    The great scientist and polymath Robert Hooke visited Tompion's workshop in the summer of 1693 where he was able to view both clocks, later recording in his celebrated Diary "Called at Tompion, saw K and Q clocks."

    Many great artists experience periods of heightened creativity and success, and the 1690's was without doubt such a time for Thomas Tompion. It was during this decade that Kneller painted his portrait. In 1690 Tompion published a table showing his equation of Time in Latin, using both the Gregorian and Julian calendars in order to expand his market further into Europe. Some of the noble houses he supplied include the Bourbons in France, the Habsburgs and Hesse-Cassels of the Holy Roman Empire, the Oldenburgs in Denmark, the House of Nassau in the Netherlands, the Medici and Savoy families in Italy, the Spanish Bourbons and the House of Wittlesbach in Sweden.

    Another important innovation of the 1690s was the introduction of his ground-breaking 'Phase Two' clock, of which No.222 is an example, which enabled full operation of the movement from the front.

    Graver 155
    By the 1690s, Tompion's workshop was increasing in size to cope with unprecedented demand for his exceptional clocks. Jeremy Evans has successfully identified the hands of five engravers employed by Tompion (see Evans, Carter, Wright: Thomas Tompion 300 Years, p.174-185). The backplate of No.222 was decorated by the same hand as the frontplate of Tompion's Mostyn Clock, one of the most iconic pieces of brass in the world of horology. Identified by Evans as 'Graver 155', he also decorated the case fittings, movement and dial for Queen Mary's turtle-shell clock, also supplied circa 1693 (see Innovation & Collaboration, exhibit number 107). Evans has tentatively suggested that Graver 155 may be Bartholemew le Maire, Engraver of His Majesty's Arms-in-Ordinary, working in Charing Cross between 1684-1698.

    TO BE OFFERED AS PART OF LOT 103
    AFTER THOMAS TOMPION

    A 20th century replica of the silver-mounted miniature ebony quarter repeating table clock, Thomas Tompion, London, Number 222. The movement by Gavin Perham, the case by Oliver Hart.
    Expertly constructed and following the original in every detail, this fully striking and repeating clock took over two years to make. The dial and movement are both signed, and, like the original, the movement is numbered along the bottom edge of the backplate. It is marked inside by the maker, Gavin Perham. Minor variations are the quarter hammer cock on the frontplate curves the opposite way, and the rise-and-fall regulation is of the more usual rack-and-pinion variety.
    195mm (7 11/16 ins) high

    The clock is protected by a custom-made oak travelling case, with rising lid over a pair of double doors, fitted with shaped and fettled steel mounts, stamps to the underside 'O.HART'.

    Literature
    Whitestone: Tompion's Smallest Clock Copied and Contemplated, Antiquarian Horology, no.6, Volume 25, December 2000
    The clock was commissioned by the current owner in the late 1990s when he decided to loan the original to the British Museum.
Contacts
A HIGHLY IMPORTANT LATE 17TH CENTURY SILVER-MOUNTED EBONY STRIKING AND QUARTER REPEATING MINIATURE TABLE CLOCK, WITH ROYAL PROVENANCE, KNOWN AS THE 'Q' CLOCK, THE SMALLEST EBONY CASED CLOCK BY THOMAS TOMPION IN THE WORLD Thomas Tompion, London, number 222.
A HIGHLY IMPORTANT LATE 17TH CENTURY SILVER-MOUNTED EBONY STRIKING AND QUARTER REPEATING MINIATURE TABLE CLOCK, WITH ROYAL PROVENANCE, KNOWN AS THE 'Q' CLOCK, THE SMALLEST EBONY CASED CLOCK BY THOMAS TOMPION IN THE WORLD Thomas Tompion, London, number 222.
A HIGHLY IMPORTANT LATE 17TH CENTURY SILVER-MOUNTED EBONY STRIKING AND QUARTER REPEATING MINIATURE TABLE CLOCK, WITH ROYAL PROVENANCE, KNOWN AS THE 'Q' CLOCK, THE SMALLEST EBONY CASED CLOCK BY THOMAS TOMPION IN THE WORLD Thomas Tompion, London, number 222.
A HIGHLY IMPORTANT LATE 17TH CENTURY SILVER-MOUNTED EBONY STRIKING AND QUARTER REPEATING MINIATURE TABLE CLOCK, WITH ROYAL PROVENANCE, KNOWN AS THE 'Q' CLOCK, THE SMALLEST EBONY CASED CLOCK BY THOMAS TOMPION IN THE WORLD Thomas Tompion, London, number 222.
A HIGHLY IMPORTANT LATE 17TH CENTURY SILVER-MOUNTED EBONY STRIKING AND QUARTER REPEATING MINIATURE TABLE CLOCK, WITH ROYAL PROVENANCE, KNOWN AS THE 'Q' CLOCK, THE SMALLEST EBONY CASED CLOCK BY THOMAS TOMPION IN THE WORLD Thomas Tompion, London, number 222.
A HIGHLY IMPORTANT LATE 17TH CENTURY SILVER-MOUNTED EBONY STRIKING AND QUARTER REPEATING MINIATURE TABLE CLOCK, WITH ROYAL PROVENANCE, KNOWN AS THE 'Q' CLOCK, THE SMALLEST EBONY CASED CLOCK BY THOMAS TOMPION IN THE WORLD Thomas Tompion, London, number 222.
A HIGHLY IMPORTANT LATE 17TH CENTURY SILVER-MOUNTED EBONY STRIKING AND QUARTER REPEATING MINIATURE TABLE CLOCK, WITH ROYAL PROVENANCE, KNOWN AS THE 'Q' CLOCK, THE SMALLEST EBONY CASED CLOCK BY THOMAS TOMPION IN THE WORLD Thomas Tompion, London, number 222.
A HIGHLY IMPORTANT LATE 17TH CENTURY SILVER-MOUNTED EBONY STRIKING AND QUARTER REPEATING MINIATURE TABLE CLOCK, WITH ROYAL PROVENANCE, KNOWN AS THE 'Q' CLOCK, THE SMALLEST EBONY CASED CLOCK BY THOMAS TOMPION IN THE WORLD Thomas Tompion, London, number 222.
A HIGHLY IMPORTANT LATE 17TH CENTURY SILVER-MOUNTED EBONY STRIKING AND QUARTER REPEATING MINIATURE TABLE CLOCK, WITH ROYAL PROVENANCE, KNOWN AS THE 'Q' CLOCK, THE SMALLEST EBONY CASED CLOCK BY THOMAS TOMPION IN THE WORLD Thomas Tompion, London, number 222.
A HIGHLY IMPORTANT LATE 17TH CENTURY SILVER-MOUNTED EBONY STRIKING AND QUARTER REPEATING MINIATURE TABLE CLOCK, WITH ROYAL PROVENANCE, KNOWN AS THE 'Q' CLOCK, THE SMALLEST EBONY CASED CLOCK BY THOMAS TOMPION IN THE WORLD Thomas Tompion, London, number 222.
A HIGHLY IMPORTANT LATE 17TH CENTURY SILVER-MOUNTED EBONY STRIKING AND QUARTER REPEATING MINIATURE TABLE CLOCK, WITH ROYAL PROVENANCE, KNOWN AS THE 'Q' CLOCK, THE SMALLEST EBONY CASED CLOCK BY THOMAS TOMPION IN THE WORLD Thomas Tompion, London, number 222.
A HIGHLY IMPORTANT LATE 17TH CENTURY SILVER-MOUNTED EBONY STRIKING AND QUARTER REPEATING MINIATURE TABLE CLOCK, WITH ROYAL PROVENANCE, KNOWN AS THE 'Q' CLOCK, THE SMALLEST EBONY CASED CLOCK BY THOMAS TOMPION IN THE WORLD Thomas Tompion, London, number 222.
A HIGHLY IMPORTANT LATE 17TH CENTURY SILVER-MOUNTED EBONY STRIKING AND QUARTER REPEATING MINIATURE TABLE CLOCK, WITH ROYAL PROVENANCE, KNOWN AS THE 'Q' CLOCK, THE SMALLEST EBONY CASED CLOCK BY THOMAS TOMPION IN THE WORLD Thomas Tompion, London, number 222.
A HIGHLY IMPORTANT LATE 17TH CENTURY SILVER-MOUNTED EBONY STRIKING AND QUARTER REPEATING MINIATURE TABLE CLOCK, WITH ROYAL PROVENANCE, KNOWN AS THE 'Q' CLOCK, THE SMALLEST EBONY CASED CLOCK BY THOMAS TOMPION IN THE WORLD Thomas Tompion, London, number 222.
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