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Exhibit № 13. Hilkiah Bedford, London, Circa 1670

Exhibit № 13. Hilkiah Bedford, London, Circa 1670

A fine and rare Charles II walnut veneered and gilt-brass mounted architectural eight-day striking longcase clock

To be sold with the Hilkiah Bedford sundial, exhibit no.8

£95,000


Height

6 foot 7½ inches (2020 mm)

Case

The architectural case veneered in walnut onto a cariniana wood carcass. The tympanum with gilt-brass cartouche and swag mounts to the front and sides, supported by gilt-brass multi-piece Corinthian capitals on matching Solomonic walnut columns to the front and quarter columns to the rear. The hood with integral shallow walnut convex throat moulding, forward sliding onto the slotted trunk uprights, above a deep trunk frieze, above a three-section walnut veneered rectangular trunk door with an octagonal pendulum lenticle. The plain walnut plinth, below the walnut cavetto/ovolo block moulding, partially restored and raised on four later turned bun feet.

Dial

The 9¼ inch (235 mm) square fire-gilded brass dial with winged cherub head spandrels to each corner, signed Hilkiah Bedford in Fleete Street Londini along the lower edge, and held to the frontplate by four latched dial feet. The narrow silvered Roman chapter ring with stylised fleur-de-lys half-hours and Arabic minutes every 5, within the division ring, the large and slender subsidiary silvered seconds ring mounted below XII, all with original superbly sculpted hands in blued steel. The matted centre with shuttered winding holes and a square chamfered date aperture above VI.

Movement

The tall rectangular movement with five latched finned baluster pillars and bolt-and-shutter maintaining power. The two trains with large great wheels on each barrel; the going has an anchor escapement with brass pendulum rod and wing-nut for the threaded lenticular bob, with fine adjustment sphere above, both held by a substantial elliptical backcock, with a corresponding pallet slot in the backplate; the strike train governed by an external countwheel pinned to the greatwheel arbor, striking the hours on a large bell above. The base pillars guided into place by taper pins, resting on the seatboard and held by a L-bracket screwed to the corresponding case bracket on the backboard.

Duration

8 days

Provenance

Sotheby’s, 28th October 1963, lot 135;
The personal collection of RA Lee, until sold in 2000 for £60,000;
John C Taylor Collection, inventory no.57

Literature

Collectors’ Pieces Clocks and Watches, 1964, AHS catalogue, exhibit no.6;
RA Lee, The First 12 Years of the English Pendulum Clock, 1969, exhibit no.26, pl.73;
Dawson, Drover & Parkes, Early English Clocks, 1982, p.238-9, fig.319-20;
Antiquarian Horology, June 2001, J Darken, ‘Short Notes on a clock by Hilkiah Bedford’, (illus.) p.184-186

Escapement

Anchor with pendulum fine adjustment sphere above threaded lenticular bob

Strike Type

Outside hour countwheel mounted to the greatwheel arbor

Exhibited

1964, Science Museum, Collectors’ Pieces Clocks and Watches, exhibit no.6;
1969, The First 12 Years of the English Pendulum Clock, exhibit no.26

Hilkiah Bedford was highly regarded as an instrument maker, and it seems likely that one of his existing wealthy customers would have purchased this clock. With this in mind, Dr Taylor feels that it is appropriate to keep the Bedford sundial (exhibit no.8) together with this early longcase, creating a rare opportunity to acquire two inter-related objects by the same maker.

Hilkiah Bedford (c.1632-1689) is believed to have been born about 1632 in Sibsey near Boston in Lincolnshire, the son of Thomas Bedford, ‘gentleman’. He was apprenticed in London in 1646 through the Stationers’ Company to mathematical instrument maker John Thompson, who had premises in Hosier Lane and he was made a Freeman in 1654. He may have continued under Thompson to complete his two years as a journeyman, something that was expected of apprentices, but was not always complied with. He made very fine precision instruments of various kinds: rules, quadrants, portable universal ring dials and sundials (see exhibit no.8, to be sold together with the current longcase). He took apprentices through the Stationers’ Company between 1656 and 1671.

The Clockmakers’ Company controlled the trading standards not only of clockmaking, but also of those who made sundials, rulers and such items as yardsticks. Since its founding in 1631 the Clockmakers’ had always carried out regular ‘searches’ by senior members, who would enter unannounced into the premises of anyone in the trade, by force if necessary, to uncover, confiscate and deface inadequate work in clocks and watches, but they rarely bothered themselves with items sold by mathematical instrument makers, most of whom belonged to other City Companies. However, following the heavy costs caused by the Great Fire of London in 1666, all City Companies were desperate to raise funds by whatever means and this is probably why the Clockmakers’ had a purge in 1666 to 1667, resulting in their forcing many mathematical instrument makers, already members of other Companies, to join the Clockmakers’. At the meeting on 24th February 1668, a number of instrument makers joined, amongst them, Hilkiah Bedford.

From 1668 Hilkiah Bedford also bound at least three apprentices through the Clockmakers’ and it is believed he only made instruments before this date, and would not have got away with retailing clocks. After 1668, he took advantage of his new Freedom to finish and sell them too, though probably very few as only four are currently recorded. Hilkiah Bedford died on 6th May 1689 and was buried at St. Dunstans in Fleet Street.

As RA Lee pointed out in The First 12 Years of the English Pendulum Clock, the pattern of this movement was as laid out by the Fromanteels, and it could have been supplied by John Fromanteel, or another associated to them.

During the making process, the position of the seconds ring had overlapped into the hour chapter, which was deemed unsightly and the escapement was moved lower in the plates. As openly evidenced from behind, the chapter ring had brass inserted and the dial plate was plugged and matted in the workshop, all done contemporaneously and prior to the final finishing and fire-gilding of the dial.

As instrument makers were usually engravers as well, it is possible that this clock was actually divided and engraved by Hilkiah Bedford himself and if so, perhaps the initial confusion with the seconds ring might be explained by this being his first longcase clock? The case is also of a most unusual format, with a singular forward sliding hood, slotted on the trunk uprights (see right), behind the integral convex throat moulding, and frieze section above the trunk door. It is also the first recorded cariniana-carcassed longcase and one of the earliest known using indigenous walnut veneers. Did Bedford go out and find a new cabinetmaker for this clock, perhaps who had made a table clock case before using cariniana (see Bartram exhibit no.5), but who had not as yet tackled the new longcase format?

This case was apparently made before Joseph Knibb’s arrival in London in 1670/1, and the first cariniana-carcassed clock that we can currently find by the Knibb family is a Phase I table timepiece by Joseph of c.1675. The exclusive supply of cariniana might suggest that the Knibb cases were made by the same cabinetmaker as the present clock.

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Product Description

Hilkiah Bedford was highly regarded as an instrument maker, and it seems likely that one of his existing wealthy customers would have purchased this clock. With this in mind, Dr Taylor feels that it is appropriate to keep the Bedford sundial (exhibit no.8) together with this early longcase, creating a rare opportunity to acquire two inter-related objects by the same maker.

Hilkiah Bedford (c.1632-1689) is believed to have been born about 1632 in Sibsey near Boston in Lincolnshire, the son of Thomas Bedford, ‘gentleman’. He was apprenticed in London in 1646 through the Stationers’ Company to mathematical instrument maker John Thompson, who had premises in Hosier Lane and he was made a Freeman in 1654. He may have continued under Thompson to complete his two years as a journeyman, something that was expected of apprentices, but was not always complied with. He made very fine precision instruments of various kinds: rules, quadrants, portable universal ring dials and sundials (see exhibit no.8, to be sold together with the current longcase). He took apprentices through the Stationers’ Company between 1656 and 1671.

The Clockmakers’ Company controlled the trading standards not only of clockmaking, but also of those who made sundials, rulers and such items as yardsticks. Since its founding in 1631 the Clockmakers’ had always carried out regular ‘searches’ by senior members, who would enter unannounced into the premises of anyone in the trade, by force if necessary, to uncover, confiscate and deface inadequate work in clocks and watches, but they rarely bothered themselves with items sold by mathematical instrument makers, most of whom belonged to other City Companies. However, following the heavy costs caused by the Great Fire of London in 1666, all City Companies were desperate to raise funds by whatever means and this is probably why the Clockmakers’ had a purge in 1666 to 1667, resulting in their forcing many mathematical instrument makers, already members of other Companies, to join the Clockmakers’. At the meeting on 24th February 1668, a number of instrument makers joined, amongst them, Hilkiah Bedford.

From 1668 Hilkiah Bedford also bound at least three apprentices through the Clockmakers’ and it is believed he only made instruments before this date, and would not have got away with retailing clocks. After 1668, he took advantage of his new Freedom to finish and sell them too, though probably very few as only four are currently recorded. Hilkiah Bedford died on 6th May 1689 and was buried at St. Dunstans in Fleet Street.

As RA Lee pointed out in The First 12 Years of the English Pendulum Clock, the pattern of this movement was as laid out by the Fromanteels, and it could have been supplied by John Fromanteel, or another associated to them.

During the making process, the position of the seconds ring had overlapped into the hour chapter, which was deemed unsightly and the escapement was moved lower in the plates. As openly evidenced from behind, the chapter ring had brass inserted and the dial plate was plugged and matted in the workshop, all done contemporaneously and prior to the final finishing and fire-gilding of the dial.

As instrument makers were usually engravers as well, it is possible that this clock was actually divided and engraved by Hilkiah Bedford himself and if so, perhaps the initial confusion with the seconds ring might be explained by this being his first longcase clock? The case is also of a most unusual format, with a singular forward sliding hood, slotted on the trunk uprights (see right), behind the integral convex throat moulding, and frieze section above the trunk door. It is also the first recorded cariniana-carcassed longcase and one of the earliest known using indigenous walnut veneers. Did Bedford go out and find a new cabinetmaker for this clock, perhaps who had made a table clock case before using cariniana (see Bartram exhibit no.5), but who had not as yet tackled the new longcase format?

This case was apparently made before Joseph Knibb’s arrival in London in 1670/1, and the first cariniana-carcassed clock that we can currently find by the Knibb family is a Phase I table timepiece by Joseph of c.1675. The exclusive supply of cariniana might suggest that the Knibb cases were made by the same cabinetmaker as the present clock.

Additional information

Dimensions 5827373 cm