Ahasuerus Fromanteel longcase movement.
This Ahasuerus Fromanteel longcase movement follows his general pattern but has a lovely additional feature of a silver chapter ring rather than silvered brass. None of these early pendulum clocks were made in batches, but there are several similar examples that have survived. These usually have bottle shaped plates for the movement with a vertically pivoted bell hammer arbor but differ in detail in their construction.
On 21st August 1663, Parliament held a debate on the unseasonable cold wintry weather. A week later, on 28th August, a severe frost occurred in London. As Autumn approached Winter, the Thames froze over. Imagine working in an unheated workshops to produce such a fabulous longcase clock mechanism.
A timepiece with a still-unsolved mystery.
Its current anchor escapement is its third successive escapement. First, it had a verge
and short-pendulum; next a crossbeat escapement with long pendulum; and finally,
anchor. The mystery is first in the outer rims of the chapter and seconds rings on the
dial, which are manually adjustable to rotate circumferentially against the main part of
each ring. The purpose of this used to be thought for a manually set equation of time.
Secondly, a more recent idea is that the removable (friction-set) hand over the winding
square within the subsidiary ring (above VI o’ clock) marked I-XII may be for tidal
indication of the time of high water. The hollow diamond makers at the conventional
XII & 60 positions may be a method of indicating zero as well as twelve. Clearly debate
is to be invited on this movement’s purpose.
Edward East longcase.
The first obvious feature of this Edward East longcase clock is that it looks unusual with the case backboard sticking up above the pediment of the hood.
The ‘East School’ spring table clocks are built on fundamentally different principles to those of Fromanteel – the backplates are pinned on, the pillars are of asymmetric baluster form rivetted onto the frontplate, the backplate is fixed with taper pins. They have no centrewheel and arbor used by the minute hand thus giving a loose feel through the motionwork to both the minute and hour hand.
Yet, this longcase movement has none of these features, and looks as if the mechanism might have been designed and made by Fromanteel. It has an early bob pendulum, but the countwheel is attached to the great wheel arbor – the first is an early feature, the latter a later improvement!
John Fromanteel made at the peak of the Fromanteels’ production, in the lead up to the Great Plague, 1665, and Great Fire, 1666, a time when they were dominating the London clock trade in the number of clocks produced, their quality of workmanship, variety and case design.
It is recorded that this clock originally had a pierced fishscale dome of giltmetal, like Exhibits 35 and 37. These Classical temple-like cases were designed by the Palladian Classical architect, John Webb.
This impressive table clock surmounted by a gilded cherub was undoubtedly made by Ahasuerus Fromanteel in his London workshop, although, when it was recently discovered, it carried the signature plaque of a later French maker crudely stuck on the dial. The case retains its original pierced fishscale dome top and is of similar design to Exhibits 34, 36 and 37. However, with its velvet covered dial, gilt brass hands, Dutch striking and (restored) lambrequin (signature plaque) evidenced by holes in the dial, it was clearly made for a continental European buyer. Both side and front doors open and are secured with an ingenious set of original latches and hasps.
Spring clock by Ahasuerus Fromanteel.
The movement design of this early spring clock by Ahasuerus Fromanteel, was soon copied by all London clockmakers for the hour striking mechanism, the layout of the trains and calendar. With a fusee in both drive trains to even out the varying torque of the springs, there is a likelihood that the pendulum will continue to swing but the hands run backwards whilst the clock is wound. To prevent this happening, Ahasuerus invented the winding hole shutters, linked to a spring engaging with a gear of the going train to maintain the torque so the hands continue to follow the pendulum swings, keeping time during winding.
1660 saw the restoration of Charles II bringing stability back to England. On the 30th September 1662 Charles had a royal procession through London to show off his newly wedded bride, Catherine of Braganza to public acclamation.
The Chronos fishscale grande sonnerie table clock.
The Chronos fishscale grande sonnerie table clock first appeared at auction by Christie’s on 14th July 1982, bought by Asprey’s of Bond Street. The Victorian minute hand and the simplification to quarter striking was rectified back to Grande Sonnerie together with a general overhaul by restorer Dan Parks in 1983. The case was a different matter; Jack Pierce, Head of Asprey’s clock department was adamant that the gilt top and figure were wrong and removed them to replace them with an ebony veneer architectural pediment. Luckily the gilt top and final was then sold with the clock to America where it remained until 2014.
Meanwhile a second Fromanteel with a similar giltmetal dome appeared (Exhibit 35) showing the mistake made in removing the Chronos finial and the fishscale top!
The Fromanteel musical clock.
The Fromanteel musical clock is a most complex survival from the early years of the pendulum clock. Apart from playing two tunes Granadeer March and Western March, the clock has the first application of a rate control for the pendulum operated from the dial. Originally the verge pendulum was suspended in a roller cage. This was abandoned in situ when the cam adjustment on the dial with a crutch and spring mounting were later fitted for the short bob pendulum, most probably by Fromanteel himself.
The case is unique as the only known table clock where the hood slides up similarly to a longcase clock or early wall clock. The caddy top may be a replacement for a fishscale top that was lost – see Exhibit 35 and 37.
Striking chaise clockwatch.
This silver two-train striking chaise clockwatch with a champlevé dial is signed on the backplate 'Edwardus East'. The floral pierced and engraved gilt balance cock is fixed with a cross tapered steel pin onto the stud on the backplate – later watches used a screw to simplify this attachment. The hour bell is fixed to the inside of the silver case which is pierced all round between the engraved ring of flowers to let the sound out. The movement has square-section Egyptian tapered pillars rivetted to the top plate with a tapered split, bottom to top.
Edward served a second term as Master of the Clockmakers Company in 1652. In these uncertain times, he had been elected Treasurer to the Company in 1647 to look after the Company’s stock. He held this post until his death in 1697.
A silver cased astronomical verge pocket watch.
A silver cased astronomical verge pocket watch engraved on the backplate Joseph Munday Londini. Starting from the outside is a fixed gold band, then delineated against a blued steel index is the rotating silver month band engraved with the twelve months, plus days in that month. A gold date ring surrounds the fixed silver chapter ring with I – XII hours together with half hour markers, read against the long blued steel hour hand with a trefoil head. The inside of the chapter ring is engraved and filled with red wax giving with the age of the Moon in days, read from the small index steel trefoil mounted on the rotating inner Moonphase aperture with an engraved face full moon at 15 days age. Between these Moon dials is a twice 12 hour gold ring for day and night. What a fabulous executive toy!