A unique and important dated 17th century lantern clock of large size, engraved with the arms of The Brewers Company William Bowyer, London, dated 1632.  The bell cast with the initials 'KS'

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Lot 77
A unique and important dated 17th century lantern clock of large size, engraved with the arms of The Brewers Company
William Bowyer, London, dated 1632. The bell cast with the initials 'KS'

£ 10,000 - 15,000
US$ 13,000 - 20,000

Fine Clocks

16 Dec 2020, 14:00 GMT

London, New Bond Street

A unique and important dated 17th century lantern clock of large size, engraved with the arms of The Brewers Company
William Bowyer, London, dated 1632. The bell cast with the initials 'KS'
The case:
15.5 inches high to the top of the reduced finial, and surmounted by a substantial strapped bell (the bell cast internally with the letters KS), over three pierced frets (cast to accommodate the bases of the finials and measuring 91 x 144mm), each centred by a shield and framed by foliate scrolls, the front central shield engraved with the coat of arms of the Brewers Company above the signature WILLIAM BOWYER OF LONDon FECIT (sic), the square top plate with original holes for the balance control and with a hoop to the rear, with four boldly cast squat urn finials on tapering Doric columns over bulbous turned feet. (doors and rear plate lacking, rear left hand finial smaller)

The dial:
the silvered chapter ring 1 and 1/16th of an inch in width, with double line border enclosing the Roman numerals and inner quarter hour track with star half-hour markers raised on single lines, the corners with foliate scrolls, the centre fully engraved and divided into diagonal quarters by pairs of sword-shaped leaves, the upper quarter with the date 1632 below a human face surrounded by petals, the lower quarter with another male face with leaves as hair, framed by largely symmetrical patterns of leaves, with single filed iron hand

The movement:
the weight driven movement (two modern weights accompany the clock) with later verge escapement, the crown wheel set on a shaped brass top potance, the pallet arbor cocked front and back and with forked crutch (displaying some decorative filing) , but missing the pendulum, the strike train dictated via a pierced brass countwheel with three crossings, the heavy iron hammer with substantial stop and altered spring
39cms (15.5ins) high.

Footnotes

  • William Bowyer is one of the great early British clockmakers and we have been fortunate enough to present several important examples in recent years, including:

    The so called 'Masterpiece' clock dated 1623, lot 72, 19th June 2007 £144,000.

    His earliest known clock, dated 1617, lot 60, 11th June 2018, £43,750.

    The clock he sold to John Earle of Rothes circa 1626, lot 68, 11th December 2019, £43,800.


    Literature: This clock is discussed and illustrated in an article by John Hooper 'William Bowyer Great Clock Maker', published in Antiquarian Horology, Summer 1998, p.122-133.

    "His standard of workmanship, design and execution was exemplary throughout his working life.....His clock frames were splendidly turned and assembled and the dials beautifully engraved, especially on his early clocks....The movements of his clocks are of an equal standard of workmanship and the finishing of his wheels and pinions generally of an excellence rarely approached by other makers of his era. The tempering of his steelwork is invariably good and the wear on his pinions minimal considering the great age of his clocks and the survivors are, as a rule, still in good working order if suitably looked after."

    There are no records as yet of the bell founder 'K.S', although another Bowyer clock is recorded in White with a bell cast with the initials 'G.S'



    The Worshipful Company of Brewers

    The Worshipful Company of Brewers is one of the oldest of London's livery companies with references as far back as the 13th century. The first Royal Charter was granted by Henry VI in 1438 and the first Coat of Arms in 1468, these were the arms of Saint Thomas Becket, the Company's patron Saint. The Arms were changed to the present sheaves of barley and barrels, after the reformation, by Royal grant in 1544.

    Initial inspection of the Court Minutes and Accounts book has not yet revealed a reference to this wonderful clock - like today, this would have been an object of enormous rarity and value in the early 17th century, and it is quite possible that it was presented to the Company by a member as a gift - just as Bowyer himself had presented a clock to the Clockmakers Company. The Masters of the Brewers Company at around this time were Samuel Cranmer (1575-1640) from Cripplegate in 1631 and Francis Zachary, of Stepney in 1632.


    Andrew King writes:

    WILLIAM BOWYER
    GREAT CHAMBER CLOCK MAKER

    With the more regular appearance of domestic clocks in the inventories from the earlier years of the sixteenth century, almost exclusively the work of Continental makers, the clock making trade in England may have been established in that century if it had not been for the successive plagues that took their toll of so many craftsmen. These human disasters led to a revived clock making trade which became established in the beginning of the seventeenth century learning their trade from previous sources as well as turret clock work, locksmithing and the art of the blacksmith. Within that first decade of the seventeenth century the tradition of the English lantern clock emerged.

    Of all the notable clockmakers from what has now become known as The first Period of lantern clock making, 1580-1640, William Bowyer remains one of the leading lights with his voluminous output of fine crafted clocks. Bowyer, probably born in the 1590s, in Berkshire and avoiding the contagion of plague married and possibly with his second wife Prudence produced six children with only three surviving infancy. Bowyer became a member of the Pewterer 's Livery Company, becoming a Freeman of the City of London in 1630, this, sometime before the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers received their Royal Charter in 1631.

    Establishing himself in Leadenhall Street Bowyer took at least six apprentices during his early years and another four some years later from 1638 through the Clockmakers Company. This providing only the smallest indication of the considerable workforce that must have existed in the Leadenhall Street manufactory not too far away from Lothbury the busiest area of lantern clockmaking with not only the Hall of the Founders Company but also the necessary foundries themselves for the adjacent trade.

    With the formation of the Clockmakers Company William Bowyer appeared to be a somewhat reluctant and not fully committed member in their ranks. His name first appeared in 1632 when he was sent with a small committee "to treat to the Blacksmiths about their business" but the following year he was in trouble for failing to attend the Court despite warnings. Nine years later in 1642 Bowyer presented the Company with a great chamber clock, the purpose to absolve himself of all Company responsibilities, "Mr Bowyer to be exempt from place, office and service". With possibly a somewhat unpredictable and recalcitrant character he nevertheless, became Assistant in 1651 and was elected a Warden in 1653, the year in which it is believed he may have died.

    William Bowyer's lantern clocks are always notably varied and impressive with unique art and innovation in both styling and mechanical versatility.
    The dials of Bowyer's clocks are a unique cornucopia of flowers, fruit, swirling leaves and comical masks much of this witness from the world of silversmithing, needlework and the publications of craft and design. This unique artwork suggesting that perhaps Bowyer employed a full time engraver. It would certainly appear that with the output of this manufactory any engraver would have been very busy. The adjacent frets a reflective artwork perhaps with a central urn of flowers and leaves flowing to form the outer region of the fret and sometimes incorporating an owl or even a boar's head. These frets were considered to be such an important feature that Bowyer is cast them to accommodate the bases of the finials, a unique feature. An unusual feature of some of Bowyer's chapter rings and surely another unique feature to him, are the quarter hour divisions marked with stars which mingle with the very delicate half hour markers.

    Bowyer's finishing was always unimpeachable, the brass work with the fine tapering pillars and the finials represents turning of the first order. The iron work from the idiosyncratic straight hammer counters to the pinions is finely wrought proving durable over the past four hundred years. His innovations include the rarely mentioned half time striking system found on one of his earliest surviving clocks. The witness to this is the hoop wheel with two gaps. This hoop wheel makes half the number of turns in any twelve hour period and in this instance, with all the saved energy, Bowyer made extra wide slots in the count wheel for half hour striking. This system is not unique to Bowyer and was indeed incorporated by later makers such as Tompion and Knibb but it never gets a mention. Bowyer's use of the device must be one of the earliest examples.

    William Bowyer's clientele was far and wide; the existence of a sundial made by him dated 1630 for John Endicott (1589-1665) of Salem Massachusetts is evidence of an early export trade by a First Period lantern clock maker.

    William Bowyer's manufactory in Leadenhall Street produce some of the most remarkable lantern clocks, and maybe other sundials as well, with all the art, craft and innovation of this great chamber clock maker.
Contacts
A unique and important dated 17th century lantern clock of large size, engraved with the arms of The Brewers Company William Bowyer, London, dated 1632.  The bell cast with the initials 'KS'
A unique and important dated 17th century lantern clock of large size, engraved with the arms of The Brewers Company William Bowyer, London, dated 1632.  The bell cast with the initials 'KS'
A unique and important dated 17th century lantern clock of large size, engraved with the arms of The Brewers Company William Bowyer, London, dated 1632.  The bell cast with the initials 'KS'
A unique and important dated 17th century lantern clock of large size, engraved with the arms of The Brewers Company William Bowyer, London, dated 1632.  The bell cast with the initials 'KS'
A unique and important dated 17th century lantern clock of large size, engraved with the arms of The Brewers Company William Bowyer, London, dated 1632.  The bell cast with the initials 'KS'
A unique and important dated 17th century lantern clock of large size, engraved with the arms of The Brewers Company William Bowyer, London, dated 1632.  The bell cast with the initials 'KS'
A unique and important dated 17th century lantern clock of large size, engraved with the arms of The Brewers Company William Bowyer, London, dated 1632.  The bell cast with the initials 'KS'
A unique and important dated 17th century lantern clock of large size, engraved with the arms of The Brewers Company William Bowyer, London, dated 1632.  The bell cast with the initials 'KS'
A unique and important dated 17th century lantern clock of large size, engraved with the arms of The Brewers Company William Bowyer, London, dated 1632.  The bell cast with the initials 'KS'
A unique and important dated 17th century lantern clock of large size, engraved with the arms of The Brewers Company William Bowyer, London, dated 1632.  The bell cast with the initials 'KS'
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