The Commonwealth Mercury, 1658

Our focus in this post is not on a clock or timepiece, but instead, on a weekly publication, produced during the Commonwealth period in England. This issue, dated November 18 1658, contains not only a report on the preparations for Oliver Cromwell’s funeral, but additionally, contains the first known advertisement in London for pendulum clocks “that go exact and keep equaller time than any now made without this Regulator”.

An equally important and fascinating piece of history, the advertisement by none other than Ahasuerus Fromanteel himself came just over a year after Huygens had obtained his Dutch patent. Fromanteel was not simply a clockmaker – he was an entrepreneur. In the following advertisement, he extolls the virtues of his fire engines. Not only for putting out fires they were also perfect for “washing Vermin off the Trees and Hops and for the watering of Gardens”.  Who says you can’t multitask?!

Oliver Cromwell served as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland from 1653 until his death on September 3 1658; coincidentally, exactly 360 years to the day on which Innovation and Collaboration opens.

Cromwell was one of the signatories of King Charles I's death warrant in 1649, and he dominated the short-lived Commonwealth of England as a member of the Rump Parliament from 1649–1653. Cromwell took command of the English campaign in Ireland from 1649–1650 where his forces defeated the Confederate and Royalist coalition in Ireland, bringing an end to the Irish Wars.

Cromwell was originally buried in Westminster Abbey but upon the accession of Charles II in 1660, the King ordered his remains to be disinterred and posthumously beheaded, where his head was placed on a spike about Westminster Hall to set an example to those who dared betray the Throne again.  Since 1960, Cromwell’s head has been buried at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge.

This enthralling historical artefact will be on display at the forthcoming Innovation & Collaboration exhibition at Bonhams, running from September 3-14 2018.


Clock exhibition

HELD ON 3rd to 14th September 2018