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Exhibit № 26. Joseph Knibb, London, Circa 1685

Exhibit № 26. Joseph Knibb, London, Circa 1685

A fine and rare James II double-six full Grande Sonnerie striking ebony veneered Phase III table clock

£145,000


Height

11½ inches (285 mm)

Case

The archetypal ebony Phase III case surmounted by Knibb’s gilt-brass faceted foliate-tied handle to the plain cushion moulded dome top above the quintessential Knibb flat-topped upper cornice moulding. The top rail of the front door is inset with a pierced ebony sound fret, flanked by Knibb’s cherub and scroll escutcheons, the left swivelling to reveal the keyhole. The side apertures are glazed, all above the typical moulded base.

Dial

The 6¼ inch (155 mm) square gilt-brass dial, signed Joseph Knibb London along the lower edge, between the gilt and chased winged cherub corner spandrels, which are of Knibb’s later Phase III design. The silvered Roman hour chapter ring with fleur-de-lys half hour marks and Arabic minutes within the division. The fine matting with three symmetrical winding holes and fine, classic Knibb, sculpted blued steel hands. Fixed into the case with typical dial turns and with four latched dial feet to the movement.

Movement

The typically fine and light movement has a triple-split frontplate, for individual train assembly, held by ten latched finned baluster pillars, with triple gut line fusees and spring barrels. The going train with restored knife-edge verge escapement and short bob pendulum. The IX side quarter train striking all four quarters on the smaller bell above and governed by a small countwheel to the backplate with four lifting pins that trip, via a tilting posted lever, the restored large double-six hour countwheel, releasing the hour train to strike on the larger bell above. The backplate with a line border, symmetrically engraved with tulips and scrolling foliage, typically signed in an arc Joseph Knibb Londini Fecit in cursive script.

Duration

8 days

Provenance

Wetherfield Collection, sold Hurcomb, 1928;
Christie’s, 5th July 2002, lot 88, sold for £114,000;
The John C Taylor Collection, inventory no.93

Literature

Hurcomb, The Wetherfield Collection of Clocks, 1928, (illus.) p.36;
Bruton, The Wetherfield Collection of Clocks, 1980, (illus.) p.86;
Horological Masterworks, 2003, (illus.) p.172-175;
Garnier & Hollis, Innovation & Collaboration, 2018, (illus.) p.340-3

Escapement

Knife-edge verge with short bob pendulum

Strike Type

Double-six full Grande Sonnerie via linked outside countwheels

Exhibited

1964, London, Science Museum, Collectors’ Pieces;
1986, Sotheby’s New York, American AHS, Spring Driven Table Clocks;
2003, Oxford & Liverpool, Horological Masterworks, exhibit no.38;
2018, London, Innovation & Collaboration, exhibit no.102

This is a classic example of Knibb’s ubiquitous Phase III pattern case, but with a complex linked-countwheel striking movement, first pioneered by him in c.1672 (see his early Phase I example from this collection, inventory no.32). While Joseph Knibb’s Phase III clocks changed little over the 1680s, closer inspection provides us with clues that this example was most likely made in the mid 1680s rather than before, or after; the dial signature Joseph Knibb London is now no longer in Latin and; Knibb uses his new ‘slimmer’ winged cherubs head spandrels; however, the backplate remains in his earlier open tulip style signed Joseph Knibb Londini Fecit in cursive script, that had generally changed to more profuse foliage by the end of the decade, often with the central signature in a reserve within two lines. Meanwhile, the case dome shows no signs of having mounts, which might indicate the start of a general fashion for simpler designs, becoming more widespread later. This, of course, would be down to the individual customer’s choice, but this simplifying trend can also be seen, and is more easily recognised, on Tompion’s standard spring clock cases that are progressively numbered.

Joseph Knibb used double-six hour striking specifically on Grande Sonnerie clocks to save power in the hour strike train, because the hour is struck at every quarter as well as on the hour. The first six hours are struck normally, but the strike reverts to 1 blow at VII o’clock, through to 6 blows at XII o’clock. The double-six full Grande Sonnerie method requires a total of 288 blows every 12 hours: 120 blows from the quarter train and 168 blows from the hour train. As seen in the backplate illustration opposite, the double-six Grande Sonnerie hour countwheel is divided: 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 2 etc., through to 6, 6, 6, 6, but twice, to make 12 hours.

At this time, more than any other maker, Knibb’s customers would have been impressed with the combination of strike options he offered. Whereas just a short time before those customers had been confined, with a few exceptions, to inaccurate clocks going for only short periods and striking only on the hour, they could now buy clocks of longer duration and/or a choice of striking work, including Dutch, Roman and quarter striking as well as double-six and full Grande Sonnerie clocks.

With the exception of a small number of his later (post 1680) Phase III spring clocks, the majority of Knibb’s complicated striking arrangements were ingeniously designed within the constraints of countwheel governance, often, as in this instance, to reduce the number of blows required on the bells and save power within the strike trains. Each method allowed for either longer duration and/or more complicated strike combinations on conventional clocks.

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Product Description

This is a classic example of Knibb’s ubiquitous Phase III pattern case, but with a complex linked-countwheel striking movement, first pioneered by him in c.1672 (see his early Phase I example from this collection, inventory no.32). While Joseph Knibb’s Phase III clocks changed little over the 1680s, closer inspection provides us with clues that this example was most likely made in the mid 1680s rather than before, or after; the dial signature Joseph Knibb London is now no longer in Latin and; Knibb uses his new ‘slimmer’ winged cherubs head spandrels; however, the backplate remains in his earlier open tulip style signed Joseph Knibb Londini Fecit in cursive script, that had generally changed to more profuse foliage by the end of the decade, often with the central signature in a reserve within two lines. Meanwhile, the case dome shows no signs of having mounts, which might indicate the start of a general fashion for simpler designs, becoming more widespread later. This, of course, would be down to the individual customer’s choice, but this simplifying trend can also be seen, and is more easily recognised, on Tompion’s standard spring clock cases that are progressively numbered.

Joseph Knibb used double-six hour striking specifically on Grande Sonnerie clocks to save power in the hour strike train, because the hour is struck at every quarter as well as on the hour. The first six hours are struck normally, but the strike reverts to 1 blow at VII o’clock, through to 6 blows at XII o’clock. The double-six full Grande Sonnerie method requires a total of 288 blows every 12 hours: 120 blows from the quarter train and 168 blows from the hour train. As seen in the backplate illustration opposite, the double-six Grande Sonnerie hour countwheel is divided: 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 2 etc., through to 6, 6, 6, 6, but twice, to make 12 hours.

At this time, more than any other maker, Knibb’s customers would have been impressed with the combination of strike options he offered. Whereas just a short time before those customers had been confined, with a few exceptions, to inaccurate clocks going for only short periods and striking only on the hour, they could now buy clocks of longer duration and/or a choice of striking work, including Dutch, Roman and quarter striking as well as double-six and full Grande Sonnerie clocks.

With the exception of a small number of his later (post 1680) Phase III spring clocks, the majority of Knibb’s complicated striking arrangements were ingeniously designed within the constraints of countwheel governance, often, as in this instance, to reduce the number of blows required on the bells and save power within the strike trains. Each method allowed for either longer duration and/or more complicated strike combinations on conventional clocks.

Additional information

Dimensions 5827373 cm