2014 February meeting

Early Flintlocks and their Manufacture by

Paul Dyer  MA FBIPP FIOD ACII

After a long career in the insurance industry including co-founder of Towergate Partnership; Paul now lectures on Risk Management and Climate Change for businesses across the UK. He has a strong interest in the Military and sponsors the development of the RMA Sandhurst archive, which he has supported from its inception. He has also written for the RMA Sandhurst Journal “Wish Stream” and has written regularly for the Insurance Trade Press.

Now having a little more free time Paul has been able to indulge and learn more of his passion for clocks and watches. He has enjoyed being welcomed by the members of the South London Branch and wishes to reciprocate with sharing his knowledge of one his other passions for military history and the manufacture of Flintlocks. His lecture this evening promises to be a unique chance to experience how early military hardware was put together and how expensive these were in relation to the production of clocks.

2014 January meeting

January 9, 2014

Admiral Lord Nelson and the domestic clock – Rory McEvoy

This talk looked mainly at clocks and watches produced in the 1800 to 1825 period, which is often referred to as the ‘golden age of the painted dial’, and highlighted a few select examples that celebrate the successes of the British Navy from the National Maritime Museum’s collection.

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Image © NMM

2013 December Meeting

Christopher Hurrion has been interested in carriage clocks since being given a broken one nearly forty years ago. This he cleaned and set going again; in his own words more by luck than through technical knowledge. Having been seduced by the love of horology nearly 40 years ago, he and Charles started a joint enterprise on Paul Garnier. He has built on those foundations since then. As a result far more is now known about him and his carriage clocks, especially the sequence in which most of his models appeared, than when Charles’ and Peter Bonnert’s seminal book ‘Carriage Clocks’ was published.

 

Jean Paul Garnier (1801-1869), known simply as Paul Garnier, was most properly given full credit by the mid-19th century French Horological Establishment for being the creator of the Parisian carriage clock industry. In this connection Christopher paid tribute to E. Flachat, the writer of P.G’s obituary, which appeared in the Revue Chronométrique of 1869. It is to Flachat that is owed most for our knowledge about Garnier’s early life, his career, his business and interests generally. P.G. of course, was not the first in France to make carriage clocks; that credit almost certainly belongs to Breguet, more than 30 years earlier.  What, however, P.G. did do for the French carriage clock was to make their products affordable to ordinary people when they had previously been beyond their means. Paul Garnier’s more or less factory-made carriage clocks left nothing to be desired while remaining comparatively inexpensive. The proof of their excellence is how many early examples, some of them over 180 years old, go today as briskly and reliably as when they were first made. Their sheer quality needs to be closely analysed to be appreciated.

 

In 1826 Paul Garnier distinguished himself by showing to the Académie des Sciences in Paris (founded in 1666) a remontoire escapement for clocks, which, because of its coup-perdu nature, allowed seconds to be shown from a half-seconds pendulum. He followed this up in the 1827 Paris Exhibition with a very complicated mantel regulator having the same escapement but in addition offering a number of astronomical indications. This clock almost certainly owed at least something to the influence of Antide Janvier, whose free horological School P.G. is known to have attended after he came to Paris. At all events, Garnier was not long in coming to Janvier’s notice. The latter was happy to teach so promising a pupil, allowing him in 1827 to adopt the style “Elève de Janvier”, despite the fact that P.G. had never worked directly for him.

 

Christopher explained and showed close-up photographs of Garnier’s chaff-cutter escapement, which consists of two parallel wheels mounted on the same pinion. Each tooth of the wheels ending with an inclined surface is opposite to the space of the other. These wheels are bisected by a ruby sector with a radiused edge oscillating from one tooth to another. The tips are at frictional rest on top of the sector and impulse is given to a balance via the inclined plane of the tooth, to the radius edge of the sector. His escapement differed from the cylinder escapement in that it had no lateral pressure on the balance pivots, thus reducing wear and maintaining good balance amplitude. The chaff-cutter proved both practical and un-temperamental. Better still, it could be made largely without hand-work. It was one of the factors in the great success of his carriage clocks; these were exceedingly well made down to the smallest detail, the majority of balances being brass and rectangular in section with radiused edges, the springs flat volutes of six or seven turns. They were, of course, closely related to the best Pendules de Paris, having excellent wheelwork and fine hard pivots and with the added refinement of rack striking-work. Their ‘one-piece’ cases were not only very strong, but were totally free from “rattles” and almost entirely dust-proof.

 

Numbered pieces to just before no. 180 are not carriage clocks at all but pendules portatives in wooden or cast-brass cases or else with naked movements on wooden bases under glass shades. Their Pendule Paris movements were probably “bought in” from Saint-Nicolas-d’Aliermont and their escapements changed or added in Garnier’s work rooms. Christopher showed us no. 34 which was primarily an ‘advertisement clock’ made for exhibition purposes to show off its balance-controlled escapement to potential customers. Another, no. 14, a twin of the previous one, is the earliest Christopher has seen or recorded, and it is of particular interest as having a ‘magnifying bubble’ in the top of its glass shade. Almost all pendules portatives and carriage clocks with Garnier’s escapement appear to have been stamped ‘P.G. Breveté’ (P.G. Patent) on the backplate. In No. 14 however, the balance cock is stamped simply ‘Breveté’. His chaff-cutter two-plane escapement has the great advantage of turning the going train through 90 degrees without the need for a contrate wheel, a frequent source of trouble in conventional carriage clocks, mainly because the escape pinions of their original (or replaced) platforms do not match their contrate wheels.

 

Christopher is currently trying to track down an early example of Garnier’s work Clock No 179, of which only photographs are known. This clock is significant as the escapement seems to be transitional and there is tantalising evidence of a date code on the clock. This clock also has the day and date rollers, (à rouleaux).

 

Apart from this clock and the series (0) clocks, all clocks up to 1850 appear to have or have had chaff-cutters. The movements were always fitted with finger-type stop work to the going side and sometimes on the striking side. The series (0) clocks (six are known) used a removable platform assembly  which consist of the balance cock and bottom potence complete with balance, spring, index, staff and disc only; the escape wheels remaining in the movement. Garnier clocks up to at least no. 1167 wind from the front. Most of the portative dials are engine turned in circular waves. In carriage clocks the dials are engine turned with wavy vertical or horizontal stripes the centres being of a radial (rose engine) pattern. All of these would have been finished with dead silvering, (see Claude Saunier’s ‘The Watchmaker’s Handbook’ for the recipe).The series (0) are timepiece movements, have gold balances, watch type quarter repeating and are reminiscent of Breguet’s work.

 

The series (1) are both large and small offering various types of complication from alarm work to striking, striking hours and quarters and repeating. Christopher showed us a selection of these. As the series (1) progressed so did Garnier’s popularity, signing himself on a few clocks “Paul Garnier Elève de Janvier”. Later Garnier had clocks signed for various retailers in Europe whom he supplied.  Christopher showing us one example, no. 568, a grande sonnerie clock and the first known to be signed “Her. Du Roi” which had an enamel dial set behind a gilt mask, two sector quadrants for sonnerie/silence and for quarts/heures et quarts as well as, unusually, the bells mounted horizontally on the underside of the case.

 

By 1839 he was entitled to sign himself “Hger. Du Roi” but most likely did not so until after the revolution of 1848. From the numbering and signed mainsprings it is deduced that from 1831 to 1834 Garnier made about 500 clocks approximately a further 350 by 1836 and a further 2000 by 1848. He also signed himself “Her. de la Marine”, probably after 1848.

 

Christopher also showed us an unusual day date clock employing concentric discs. The clock strikes hours and the half hours, then repeating the same on a gong. This is signed for the retailer ‘Milleret et Tissot à Geneve’ and the striking is achieved by two pin wheels both inwardly facing; a pause is created in the hour to half hour striking as the hammer arbour is shunted, the tail picking up the relative blows from one or other of the wheels in turn. This clock we were told was discovered in pieces covered in verdigris in three boxes at the back of a London clockshop. Obviously a headache for the repairer! Christopher was grateful for the talents of Ian Ford in restoring this and getting it together again.

 

A feature of Paul Garnier quarter striking work was his use of shunts Christopher illustrated this with the photographs of no 1103, its dial removed to show the two racks and the way the hammers are pushed across to strike the hours and then the quarters. Smaller series (1) have no repeating work and there is only one known example with alarm work; otherwise all are plain striking movements. The cases of this series were uniform in construction the collets to the wheel work the same and always the same gear count giving a 15120 vibration per hour. Jewelling was limited to the balance and its pivots only and should be viewed with suspicion if otherwise. Wooden blocks were fitted to the bases as a practical means to stop the clocks from toppling over if overhanging a ledge, these being numbered the same as the clock but with a further two numbers in ink – the assembler’s works number, perhaps?

 

The Series (2) clocks were more decorative. Later cases were engraved the dials being enamel with blue black or gold numerals. These movements wound and set from the back which meant that the hand styles could change as they no longer required to be so robust Series (2) (3) and (4) do tend to overlap one another and (3) can be distinguished by the movements not being housed in the one piece style cases but often in a multi-piece case; the movements are the same quality as the series (2) and are mainly repeating. The series (4) however are simpler and mainly have a count wheel striking movement, therefore are not repeating; although some have rack striking and are repeating. The early portatives were also count wheel and could easily be put right if the time shown became out of synch. with the hours struck but the series (4) clocks had one other difference as the rear opening doors of the  Series (2) and (3) were replaced with an engraved panel through which the clock was wound.

 

Christopher is aware of special case designs and two large musical series (1) clocks but said these were disappointing as the musical movements are not in his opinion of good quality. By 1839 Garnier was pursuing other different mechanical interests notably medicine, steam and electricity and his interest in the carriage clocks was waning. Apart from constructing his own clockmaking machines he developed an engine counter for railway and marine use and Christopher’s last photographs were of this, both front and rear, showing how it was connected to a round-ébauche movement.

 

Garnier also produced electric master and slave clocks to the railway system of France, Gare de Lyon being one of the closest to us that was still using these timepieces until about 20 years ago. Garnier was awarded the Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur for his work. It is thought that his son continued the retail side of the business after his father’s death.

 

Christopher concluded his talk by thanking us for our attention and to Charles Allix for firing his enthusiasm all those years ago. After a quick question and answer session Philip Whyte offered our vote of thanks to Christopher for a very interesting evening full of many facts about this fascinating technician; far more than it is possible to convey on this short report.

 

Duncan Greig.

2013 December meeting

December meeting

PG Tips

We are very grateful to Christopher Hurrion for this month’s lecture. First given in 1992 at the Science Museum with collaboration with Charles Allix he presented the fruits of research into the life Paul Garnier since the publication of the Allix and Bonnert book. Time and experience can only enrich our knowledge.

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Image courtesy of Antique Clocks, price and identification guide

Those of us who appreciate carriage clocks owe a great debt of gratitude to Paul Garnier, who has been recognized as the founder of the Paris carriage clock industry. Born Jean-Paul Garnier in Épinal, France in November 1801, he was obliged to start working at an early age because his father died when he was only ten.  Paul (his preferred name) moved to Paris at age nineteen to work for the clockmaker Lépine and attended the clockmaking school of Antide Janvier.  About five years later he established his own business in Paris, showing great creativity and cleverness through inventions such as his version of a constant-force frictionless remontoire escapement which he incorporated in a complicated mantel regulator shown in the 1827 Paris Exhibition.  Throughout his life Garnier had wide-ranging interests, but in my lecture I will concentrate on his work as a carriage clock maker and the various clever and creative things he did in that capacity.  He was the key instigator in popularizing carriage clocks, and he did this with efficient production of attractive case designs and movements (including specifically his patented chaff-cutter escapement) while building his reputation using various versions of his signature that often included descriptive and impressive titles to distinguish and add value to his work.

 

Christopher Hurrion, a solicitor, has been interested in carriage clocks since being given a broken one nearly forty years ago, which he cleaned and set going again, more by luck than through technical knowledge. He has been legal adviser to the Antiquarian Horological Society for many years and was Master Clockmaker and President of the BHI in 2003. He is still on the Court of the Clockmakers’ Company and is currently and has been for the last seven years Chairman of the Trustees of the Clockmakers’ Museum & Educational Trust, an independent charity which is responsible for the Clockmakers’ Museum in Guildhall in the City of London.

2013 November meeeting

Following the AGM there will be a series of short presentations:

– Duncan Greig presents an inappropriate use of lead solder – how not to repair a tourbillon
– A short film describing the manufacture of high quality gut lines at the Bow Brand factory
-Grenville Johns, to discuss fitting and wiring a 3 phase motor to a lathe
-Morris Fagg, describes a four facet drill sharpening jig and the benefits of the extra facets
-James will present an addendum to his excellent mainspring talk

Talks

2013 September meeting

THE BERESFORD HUTCHINSON MEMORIAL  LECTURE

The overhaul and servicing of complicated travelling and carriage clocks. 

RON ROSE FBHI

Our speaker this year needs no introduction to members of the South London branch BHI. But for those of you who are new to our membership my personal recollections of his quiet and unassuming achievements are as follows. Ron’s horological career started when a school careers officer placed two options in front of him over 50 years ago.

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A complicated carriage clock, shown for illustrative purposes only. Original image and catalogue entry for this clock can be found on the Antiquorum web archive. 

In Ron’s own words “thank heavens I was right-handed and chose horology” and at the tender age of 15 he took an apprenticeship with Thwaites and Reed; “the alternative would have been a typewriter engineer”. My first recollection of Ron was visiting the workshops above Strike One Islington in 1978. Already established as one of the top restoration businesses in London I appreciated the fine work displayed in the workshops. Learning of his recent publication of a book on English Dial Clocks I made it a priority in my Christmas list that year. I next saw Ron with his family exhibiting at the Clocks for Everyman exhibition 1980. Ron had to move his business from Islington and many of us have visited his shop on the junction of the Five Ways at 731 Sidcup Road, where he looked after the trade and public alike. Ron has always taken an active interest in the BHI helping his fellow horologist with work and advice when needed; he has trained three apprentices that I know of. In the 1990s he encouraged members of the South London branch to construct a skeleton clock at Upton Hall. This led on to setting up a workshop in 1998 for those individuals who wished to take part in the millennium project constructing their own skeleton clock. There were both professional and amateur alike working side-by-side revelling in the support that Ron gave them. The late Beresford Hutchinson was one of those members. For this Ron was awarded the BHI Barrett Silver Medal in recognition of his services to encourage the furtherance of horology. Ron’s own clock, his second, a month duration striking skeleton clock, is testament to his high standard. Ron has taken part in the Art in Action demonstrations, is a member of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers and was part of the examining board of the BHI. I have nothing but a high regard for his skills and ability to overhaul some of the rarest carriage clocks that collectors and dealers have placed in his hands. Over the years I have observed the high quality and reliability of his work with complicated traveling and carriage clocks.

Ron is the driving force behind the South London branch and without his perseverance the current workshop would not have come to fruition. Ron still continues to impart the knowledge; skills and camaraderie he has done for many years with this lecture which will include minute repeating work, Grand Sonnerie repeating work, lunar work, perpetual calendar work, a short video presentation and the work of James Ferguson Cole.

D. Greig

2013 August meeting

MARION SMITH –  Researching 18th and 19th Century Lewes Clockmakers.

Pre-talk blurb:

Marion was born, and still lives in Lewes Sussex. She was first introduced to Lewes clockmakers when she visited the longcase clock exhibition convened by the late Michael Sautter, at the premises of Bill Bruce. The longterm storage of a longcase clock by John Holman of Lewes, belonging to her nephew, served as a perpetual reminder that there was some research to be done!

A Richard Comber clock dial showing his unusually refined style - from invaluable.com

A Richard Comber clock dial showing his refined style – from www.invaluable.com

 

Marion is a retired psychologist, with a post graduate qualification in social science research methods. Local history research is somewhat different. But there was enough common ground to give her the impetus to launch into the local archives, assisted by access to the books and extensive knowledge provided by Bill Bruce.

The talk will follow the course of her research into 5 significant Lewes clockmakers; considering starting points, sources, recording information, overcoming confusion and maintaining the accuracy of research findings.

2013 July meeting

The talk was a fascinating and enjoyable journey through an often overlooked area of horological history with great clocks and amazing instruments.
Pre-talk blurb:

CLOCKMAKING IN SOHO, BIRMINGHAM   DAVID HORNSEA      

Our Speaker will be David Hornsey from Frome in Somerset. David was trained in the scientific field of Biophysics and has a fine arts degree which he gained from studies at Southampton University. He then studied at the British Horological Institute’s course in Birmingham before taking his training further gaining a Diploma in antique clock restoration and conservation from West Dean College. He has an intense interest in Art and technological history.

SohoManufactory_1800

The title of his talk will be “Clockmaking in Soho, Birmingham” and will focus on the horological history of the mid-18th century to the early 20th. Paying particular attention to the clockmaking of Mathew Boulton of Soho House and the Lunar Men who spearheaded the Industrial Revolution. David will illustrate the progression of 19th century clockmaking with workmen like John Haughton and W F Evans who made many of the elaborate architectural skeleton clocks of the second half of this period. He will also address some of his other research into this fascinating period of the horological history.

2013 June meeting

SID LINES                                  WORKSHOP PRACTICE – HINTS AND TIPS

Lots of useful tips, presented with great clarity!!

 

Pre-talk blurb read:

This month’s talk is “Hints and Tips” it will have an Engineering slant to it, but will be useful to people that make clocks or clock parts on a regular basis.
The talk starts with a couple of Sid’s favourite gripes, followed by a section on some useful tips on the uses of a
lathe and cutters.
The second section is practical tips on how to get the best from a small milling machine like setting the machine and vice correctly plus some useful tips on cutter alignment.
The last part of the talk covers compression and tension spring making , drills and their uses plus some other odd
things to help in the workshop like pin making and flattening of metals etc.
Regulars at the South London Branch will remember Sid as chairman of the Kent branch. His engineering knowledge combined with his straight talking style will make an interesting and informative talk. I am sure we all will learn
something.

2013 May meeting

 

Clockmaking – Cornelia & George de Fossard

 

Cornelia and George de Fossard’s recently constructed miniature longcase clock appeared on the front cover of the February horological journal. Please join us as Cornelia and George take us on what promises to be a fascinating journey into modern-day clockmaking.

 

miniature-walnut-case

 

Cornelia served an apprenticeship to a carpenter and cabinet maker in Germany before heading to the UK to further her skills at West Dean college near Chichester. Now self-employed as a furniture restorer, she has an extensive range of of skills including carving, gilding and turning to mention just three.

 

George served a four year apprenticeship in mechanical engineering then went on to read Mechanical Design, Materials and Manufacture at the University of Nottingham. After a spell working in design engineering, he re-trained as a clockmaker at West Dean College.

 

George and Cornelia now run a business together based in Frome, Somerset specialising in the design and manufacture of fine quality handmade clocks. Cornelia also undertakes the conservation and restoration of early English furniture and clock cases.