Three Restorations: Tales of 18th
Before retiring from Xerox in 2013, I had been fascinated by
horology since I bought, on a whim at a local auction some 30 years before, a
French black marble mantel clock. After repairing it, and in the process being
persuaded by a local clockmaker to join the BHI Wessex Branch, I progressed
from these clocks, via a brief foray into wristwatches, to the world of English
watches from the 18th and early 19th centuries. I think much of the attraction
of this field for me lies in the largely handmade nature of these pieces and
the complexity of the trade, comprising such a multiplicity of crafts, which
produced them. The nature of their manufacture frequently gives rise to the
necessity to make replacement parts from the raw materials, something I
sometimes find challenging but always most rewarding.
My involvement with the Wessex Branch has deepened, from initially taking over
the maintenance and running of our auction database software and its general
administration, to now having been Chairman since Andrew James stood down in
2017 in order to devote more time to his Clockmaker’s Company roles. (Andrew’s
recent death at a tragically young age has left us all deeply saddened).
I’m also a member of the Antiquarian Horological Society, the Dorset Clocks
Society and the NAWCC.
The presentation deals in some detail with the repair and restoration of three
pocket watches made in the 18th century, which came to me in need of various
A 1762 English verge signed for James Ivory with
several structural problems, which ended up being a full restoration including
re-plating the cases and making a pair of the correct hands for the dial.
A 1788 English cylinder with a centre seconds
hand, signed for John Starey, but made to the design and standards of George
Graham, which was bought at an auto-jumble by its present owner, with the
vendor suggesting that it would be suitable for mounting with a clip on the
handlebars of a motorbike! This needed new hands as well as some other work.
A c.1750 English verge quarter repeater signed
for Robert Higgs, which had been somewhat bodged in earlier repairs, in
spectacular gold pair cases.
Our first speaker this 2020 is Duncan Greig who regularly
visits Lyme Park and other impressive collections working on site.
The focus of his talk will be the new marquetry longcase
clock by Thomas Tompion which has recently found a home at Lyme. A bequest from
a Norfolk collector, it now stands in the former State Dressing Room at Lyme,
which houses forty-nine horological items. The month duration clock is
unnumbered, therefore thought to predate 1682. The magnificent marquetry case,
in all probability the work of Jasper Bream, with rising hood has retained much
of its colour and cresting. Duncan will briefly describe other clocks at Lyme
by the same maker. He wants to draw our attention to comparisons of the ‘new’
clock with one of similar appearance at Powys Castle, pointing out differences
on the execution of work to the Barrels, Motion work, Pallets and maintaining
With further interesting illustrations of the work by this
maker Duncan hopes to draw to our attention to the fact that we all make mistakes…….
A Snapshot of Frodshams in the 21st
century – something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.
The Frodsham Team
For this year’s South London Branch “George Daniels Memorial
Lecture” we are delighted to welcome “The Frodsham Team.”
Charles Frodsham & Co. are the longest continuously
trading firm of chronometer manufacturers in the world and are synonymous with
precision timekeeping instruments of the highest quality; watches, clocks,
regulators and wristwatches.
This prestigious lecture will
chart the historical path of Charles Frodsham and Co. proposing a link between
notable restoration projects of recent times to the research, development and
manufacture of a modern wristwatch with a focus on materials and chronometric
performance. The processes required to produce the movement, case and dial
components will be carefully considered and elaborated upon.
October meeting we are delighted to welcome back Bill Wolmuth who will show
that not all black marble clocks are created equal.
Within the horological world there is a common misconception that
the movements to black marble clocks are all very similar and machine
made. However, as with any type of
clock, there are examples of considerable interest for the horologist who is
prepared to look and there is no doubt that many of the movements, particularly
early or rare ones, included a high degree of manual work to a very high
Bill Wolmuth is a consulting engineer and an amateur horologist
who has been interested in black marble clocks for more than 30 years. He is
based in London and is Secretary to St Albans Clock Club. In collaboration with
John Glanville, he co-authored the book ‘Clockmaking in England and Wales in
the Twentieth Century’ on which he gave us a talk in August 2017.
In this talk, Bill will discuss unusual black marble clock
movements made between the late 1840s and 1880s, illustrated with photographs,
and explain how to narrow down the date of manufacture of most of such
movements. The movements include ones that are quarter striking (with a
countwheel or rack strike); have centre or subsidiary seconds hands; have twin
wheel escapements (and are countwheel or rack strike); are year going; have
calendar work (simple or perpetual); and movements with keyless winding (there
are a few types). The talk will conclude
with a brief explanation of Bill’s methods for restoring black marble clock
cases which have case parts missing or damaged.
members are welcome to bring any black marble clocks they consider will be of
interest to the audience or on which they would like some advice.
For this year’s Beresford Hutchinson Lecture, we are delighted to welcome Keith Scobie-Youngs joint founder of the Cumbria Clock Company.
The Cumbria Clock Company Ltd.
Was established in 1990 and is situated in the small village, of Dacre in the
Lake District National Park not far from the picturesque Lake Ullswater. From
this base, and using engineer’s living in England, the whole country is
covered. They are responsible for the annual maintenance of hundreds of clocks
all over the UK. From the smallest church or village clock to the magnificent
clocks at Salisbury cathedral, Hampton Court Palace, more recently the Royal
Liver Building dials and waiting train movements, Liverpool.
Keith will be giving us an insight into the extensive conservation work carried out to the Hampton Court Palace clock, its history, the astronomical dial and how it ended up being driven by a Gillet and Bland double three legged remontoire movement. His knowledge and expertise on the countries tower clocks are second to none, an evening not to be missed.
For our August
lecture we look forward to welcoming Tabea Rude.
Tabea trained at West Dean College gaining a Master’s degree
in Horology. Before moving to Vienna Tabea spent eighteen months working at The
City clock collection is part of the Vienna City museum group, which comprises
of 22 museums and historic houses, as well as the city archaeology department.
Although the collection is only a very small part of the entire museum group,
with over 5000 objects it is the largest horological collection in Austria. The
700 key pieces of this collection are housed in a historic building in central
Vienna, which has functioned as a publicly accessible clock museum since 1921.
appointed as the horological conservator for the entire horological collection
in 2017. This involves documenting and organising the reserve collection in a
new purpose-built art storage building, as well as getting to know Viennese
horology and the key objects in the collection.
Tabea will talk about the early beginnings of the museum and
its key collections acquired in the 1910-20s. Through the following “tour on
slides”, everyone is invited to get to know the key objects’ histories as well
as the quirky and -at least locally- famous personalities associated with
them. From Austro-Hungarian monarchs, poets and monks to bankrupt actresses and
failed inventors- the collection contains many interesting stories, clocks,
watches and automata.
For our July
lecture we look forward to welcoming James Harris, currently Conservator in
residence at the Clockworks. James also runs his own clock and watch repair business.
After graduating with a First Class degree from the then-new
BA (hons) Horology course at Birmingham School of Jewellery, James has spent
time working for brands such as Tag Heuer, Omega, and Christopher Ward. He has
also returned to Birmingham as a lecturer.
James chose to launch Harris Horology in order to work with
his main horological interest, vintage and antique watches and pocket watches.
For his talk to us James will be describing what it’s
like to train to become a horologist in the 21st century, studying horology as
a degree. He will also be discussing what lead to becoming an independent
watchmaker under Harris Horology and the various avenues that keep him busy
away from the bench.
For our June
lecture we look forward to welcoming Francoise Collanges.
Brussels but also working in the UK and in France, Françoise is a trained horologist, specialising in the conservation and
care of historical objects.
In the last few
years, Francoise has collected as much information and pictures that she could
on Robert-Houdin’s mystery clocks. Her lecture will give some historical
backgrounds to Robert-Houdin’s clocks and examine what are their distinctive
features, and the issues she has met with them. Her aim is to better understand
how they were made, by whom, and how well they are meant to perform. Francoise
looks forward to discussing with our members the experiences they have had with
some of the best schools in conservation in Europe (Paris-Sorbonne in France,
West Dean College in the UK), she embraces the ethics defined by the leading
national and international institutions in the field of conservation (see ECCO guidelines) and provides the highest standards of work. She is
a member of the Institute of Conservator-restorers in Ireland (ICRI) and of Icon (UK).
A member of
the AHS council Françoise trained for two years at West Dean College (UK) in the conservation of clocks and obtained
a MA in Conservation Studies, before settling as a free-lance conservator.
For our May meeting
we welcome Malcolm Archer and his students from West Dean College. The speakers will be
a number of his Conservation of Clocks students.
event gives the students a chance to try their hand at public speaking and us
the opportunity to hear what is going on in horological education. Students
will present on a project that makes up a major part of their coursework for
qualification in restoration and conservation of antique clocks. The evening
promises good variety and an opportunity for lively discussion.
is always interesting to hear about the projects that the students have been
working on and we will have a variety of topics presented. It is also a
good opportunity to hear first-hand about what the tutors and students are
doing and show our support
note the meeting is not at our normal venue but at
Soper Hall –Harestone Valley Road, Caterham, CR3 6HY
For our April lecture we are pleased to welcome branch member Peter Gosnell to give his talk on “The Untold Story of British Jerome.”
When Chauncey Jerome and his company ‘The Jerome Manufacturing Company’ of New Haven, Connecticut, filed for bankruptcy in 1856, the New Haven Clock Company (NHCC from now on) purchased their assets.
As soon as the NHCC started producing from the old Jerome Manufacturing Co. plant, research suggests they either obtained, took, or assumed the right to use the name of ‘Jerome & Co.’. The name of ‘Jerome’ sold clocks both in England and the USA, being regarded by the public as a trusted brand.
Initially John Calvin Plimpton (an American by birth) and his company became sub-occupiers of The Jerome Buildings in Liverpool, England from 1891-1905. Then from 1908-1912 they were listed in local Directories as the sole agents of the NHCC in Great Britain.
Further research suggested that Plimpton & Co. soon started assembling NHCC movements at their premises in Liverpool from a mixture of imported NHCC parts as well as their own manufactured parts in order to try to Anglicise these movements to make them more appealing to English tastes.
Tonight’s talk will look at these movements, known by their labels as ‘British Jerome Movements’ in some depth, with all known movement models being presented during the talk.
With the assistance of two of our own branch members, Mick Welch and Gary Preston, probably the largest collection to date of these British Jerome Movements will also be on show to be inspected by the audience after the talk.
Peter lives in Greenwich and is now a pro-active grandparent with his wife Dinah. During his working life, Peter was employed by the University of the Arts London where he eventually taught practical courses in historical photographic processes. Before that he ran his own restoration joinery and furniture making business. For the future Peter intends to carry on his own Fine Art Photography practice, write horological articles and give horological talks on subject areas he has studied.