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Exhibit 1 – David Ramsay, London Circa 1620

Exhibit 1 – David Ramsay, London Circa 1620

A very rare James 1 silver and gilt-brass oval early verge pocket watch

£45,000


Stock No.

Exhibit No.1

Case

The silver case with chased gilt bezels, hinged to the covers, each surrounded by scrolling foliage inhabited by half-human half-animal figures; the silver front engraved with a figure of Athene, holding a serpent and hand mirror by an altar of love with two doves; the silver back engraved with the figure of Leukothea holding her Anchor of Hope to sailors. The silver central band engraved with rabbits amongst floral scrollwork. Each gilt bezel hinge engraved with a cherub’s head, below the cartouche-form pendant.

Dial

The 37.6 mm by 28.2 mm gilt and chased dial plate, mounted with a 23 mm silver Roman chapter ring and single blued-steel hand. The plate chased with scrolls and foliage and a mask above XII, a city view and river is engraved within the centre of the chapter ring.

Movement

The gilded movement with oval plates and rear pinned vase-shaped pillars. The backplate with superbly chased border and plain centre signed David Ramsay Scotus me Fecit. The steel balance with a pinned, elaborately pierced and engraved, floral spray cock below the steel click-wheel with gilt click, engraved to match the cock.

Duration

14 hours

Provenance

The Time Museum, Rockford, Illinois, USA, inventory no.3415;
Sotheby’s New York, 19 June 1999, lot 10, sold for £41,825;
John C Taylor collection, inventory no.99

Literature

Garnier & Hollis, Innovation & Collaboration, 2018, p.127;
The Luxury of Time, Clocks from 1550-1750, 2019, p.14

Escapement

Verge with plain steel balance and delicate pinned floral cock

David Ramsay was born in Scotland in c.1585, possibly in Dundee. He was one of the finest early makers and initially learnt his trade working in France. At the request of King James I, Ramsay arrived in England in about 1610, and in 1612, he was paid /61 for three watches he had made for the Prince of Wales. In 1613 Ramsay was appointed chief clockmaker to James I (d.1625) and this was on a much higher salary than his predecessor, seemingly a clear indication of how highly he was regarded by the king. By 1622 he was working at Tothill Street, Westminster and had taken as journeyman William Petit, an alien he had most probably brought over from France. Ramsay became the first Master of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers at its formation in 1631, but curiously did not attend until late 1634, being away in the country. He continued to scarcely attend Clockmakers’ meetings, except between 1652-1654 when he voted himself a grant from the Clockmakers’ funds, having suffered under the Commonwealth regime (1649-1660). By 1653, Ramsay was living in Holborn, within two doors of the ‘Wounded Hart’, and he died in 1660, leaving a widow, Sarah.

It is interesting to note that, although working in London, his signature on this watch, David Ramsay Scotus me Fecit, re-affirms his Scottish roots, perhaps as confirmation of his favour with James I, the Scottish king. The French nature of Ramsay’s work is shown by the existence of a very similar watch to the present example, signed R Dieu a Paris, of c. 1615, formerly in the Dr E Gschwind collection, Basle (see his catalogue, Montres Francaises, 1500-1680, no.12).

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Product Description

David Ramsay was born in Scotland in c.1585, possibly in Dundee. He was one of the finest early makers and initially learnt his trade working in France. At the request of King James I, Ramsay arrived in England in about 1610, and in 1612, he was paid /61 for three watches he had made for the Prince of Wales. In 1613 Ramsay was appointed chief clockmaker to James I (d.1625) and this was on a much higher salary than his predecessor, seemingly a clear indication of how highly he was regarded by the king. By 1622 he was working at Tothill Street, Westminster and had taken as journeyman William Petit, an alien he had most probably brought over from France. Ramsay became the first Master of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers at its formation in 1631, but curiously did not attend until late 1634, being away in the country. He continued to scarcely attend Clockmakers’ meetings, except between 1652-1654 when he voted himself a grant from the Clockmakers’ funds, having suffered under the Commonwealth regime (1649-1660). By 1653, Ramsay was living in Holborn, within two doors of the ‘Wounded Hart’, and he died in 1660, leaving a widow, Sarah.

It is interesting to note that, although working in London, his signature on this watch, David Ramsay Scotus me Fecit, re-affirms his Scottish roots, perhaps as confirmation of his favour with James I, the Scottish king. The French nature of Ramsay’s work is shown by the existence of a very similar watch to the present example, signed R Dieu a Paris, of c. 1615, formerly in the Dr E Gschwind collection, Basle (see his catalogue, Montres Francaises, 1500-1680, no.12).

Additional information

Dimensions 5827373 cm