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Exhibit № 30: The Poyntz Tompion, No.457. Circa 1707

Exhibit № 30: The Poyntz Tompion, No.457. Circa 1707

A very fine and rare Queen Anne miniature Phase 2 ebony and gilt-brass mounted striking table clock with pull-quarter repeat by Thomas Tompion & Edward Banger, London

£750,000


Height

10¼ inches (261 mm)

Case

The well-proportioned miniature Phase 2 case with ebony veneers and mouldings onto an oak carcass. The cushion-moulded top is surmounted by a well cast thistle-bud handle with rosette terminals.  The front door is applied with Tompion’s gilt-brass foliate cast sound fret to the top rail, while the uprights are applied with typical foliate-cartouche escutcheons, the sides inset with matching gilt-brass frets above the glazed apertures, and a D-moulded glazed door to the rear. The front door sill is clearly punch-numbered 457 twice, below the mask that is inset with a further pierced-wood sound fret. The front and rear door retain their original locks and hinges and the whole case is raised on conforming ebony mouldings and typical block feet.

Dial

The 4¾  x 5¼ inch gilt-brass dial by Graver 195, is signed Tho Tompion & Edw Banger London within foliate engraving and flanked by subsidiary dials for strike/silent and pendulum regulation. The silvered chapter ring has Roman hours with sword-hilt half-hour marks between, the Arabic minutes with cross half-quarter markers. The finely matted centre has a mock pendulum aperture with the original finely pierced and sculpted blued steel hands, with mask-and-foliate spandrels in the lower dial quadrant with double screws in Tompion’s manner, the foliate upper quadrant spandrels abutting the subsidiary rings. The three dial feet are typically latched to the inside of the front plate.

Movement

The substantial miniature movement held by seven latched finned baluster pillars, with spring barrels, twin fusees and gut lines. The going train with pivoted verge escapement and brass rod lenticular pendulum spring-suspended from a pivoted curved brass regulation bar with pinion adjustment atop the plates, all with foliate engraved cocks. The strike train governed by rack-and-snail sounding the hours on the larger bell, the quarters struck on the smaller bell using Tompion’s own fail-safe system, with double-cocked interlocking blued steel levers, pulled from either side of the case. The backplate, by Graver 195, has very fine quality foliate engraving centred by a Martian trophy above the signature cartouche signed Tho Tompion & Edw Banger London, the cartouche is further flanked by two bare-breasted seraphim. The base of the backplate is clearly numbered 457 just beneath the scored line border. The movement is secured in the case in Tompion’s usual manner with two steel bolts through the baseboard into the bottom pillars and by two foliate engraved backplate brackets.

Duration

8 days

Provenance

The Reverend NCS Poyntz, of Dorchester Abbey, Oxon;

Sotheby’s, London, 11 July 1941, lot 88, sold to Malcolm Gardner (dealer);

Private collection USA, until sold 2014;

John C Taylor Collection, inventory no.80

Literature

Symonds, A book of English clocks, 1947, plates 45a & 47;

Symonds, Thomas Tompion his life and work, 1951, p.206, fig.198;

Evans, Thomas Tompion Evans, Dial & Three Crowns, 2006, listed, p.80;

Evans, Carter and Wright, Thomas Tompion 300 Years, 2013, p.364-365, listed p.606;

Garnier & Carter, Golden Age of English Horology, 2016, Tompion’s miniature and mid-sized series of domestic table clocks, p.144-149

Escapement

Pivoted verge with spring-suspended pendulum

Strike Type

Hour strike with Tompion’s own pull-quarter repeat

Exhibited

1948, Goldsmiths & Silversmiths Company, Antique Dealers’ Fair, London

Tompion’s miniature series of domestic table clocks

Tompion’s surviving miniature striking spring clocks (10 complete and 1 remnant) are listed on p.209 of this catalogue.

The early 1690s were a particularly busy and fruitful time for Thomas Tompion’s workshops, he had upgraded his designs of domestic clocks and he was also working on a number of Royal commissions. These included the year-going spring-driven Mostyn Tompion and the silver-cased balance/pendulum-control campaign clock, both for William III, as well as no.222, the smallest of his wooden cased table clocks, probably commissioned for Queen Mary. It may be that the commissioning of no.222 encouraged Tompion to offer smaller sizes of standard table clocks incorporating his superb pull quarter repeat system but, whatever the reason, from c.1693 Tompion first began to produce miniature versions of his striking and repeating table clocks.

This was not the first time that Tompion had successfully tackled clocks of smaller dimensions, testimony being the beautiful harlequin pair of table clocks of c.1683, no.21 (Fitzwilliam Museum, obj. M.3-1965), and the Lonsdale Tompion no.23, although he housed these extraordinary timepieces in gilt-brass and blued-steel cases. A year or so later Tompion then produced two standard wooden cased Phase 1 timepieces in miniature, nos.47 and 51.

All of Tompion’s miniature striking table clocks were made between c.1693 and c.1710, and were all housed in Phase 2 cases. Of his miniatures the lowest serial numbered movement is 215, but he did not fit his usual repeat system and the type of spandrel used suggests that that clock remained unfinished until after c.1696, by which date a new smaller pattern of ‘ornate cherub head’ spandrel had been commissioned.

In line with Tompion’s known practice, study of the recorded miniature movements by their features, forms possible batches within the series. If his batch production was around four, as in c.1696, this might suggest that more were made, or started, which are now missing (c.1693: 215, 225 & 226/ c.1696: 270, 271, 272 & 285/ c.1703: 414/ c.1707: 457, 460 & 503).

Apart from the necessity of having sets of smaller scale movement component castings made, Tompion also had to consider the implications of scaling down his dials and cases, both of which required new mounts and handles. The first miniature table clock Tompion completed was no.225 and, as Tompion had just made a new ‘foliate mask’ spandrel for use on the sub-miniature dial of no.222, this was also incorporated into the first two miniature dials of 225 and 226.

At the same time Tompion tackled the production of the new miniature cases. For these smaller clocks every element was scaled down beautifully and in proportion, so that it is quite difficult to ascertain their size when looking at an image or photograph. Tompion commissioned a new ‘thistle bud scroll’ handle, scaled to match, and this small handle was only used on the miniature cases.

From c.1696, on no.270, a new ‘ornate cherub head’ spandrel was commissioned for the miniature dials and this pattern was also used to complete the first of the series no.215. From then on Tompion used this spandrel on all his miniature, as well as mid-sized clocks.

As was Tompions practice, having perfected the miniature movements, they were made to a pattern that hardly changed for the next 15 to 20 years. They were produced in batches, so each could be finished as and when required. In the second batch of clocks – 270, 271, 272 & 285 – the third clock was signed George Graham and appears to have been left stranded in stock and not taken off the shelf and finished until after Tompion’s demise.

Over the whole period of their production, the miniature movements show the usual developments in production at the same time as they can be seen on his full sized examples – changes in engravers as well as engraving patterns, modifications to the repeat levers from a cock and post to double-cock and the introduction of recesses to the base of the plates.

 

The Reverend NCS Poyntz (1846-1920) graduated from Pembroke College, Oxford and served a number of curacies before his appointment at the Abbey in 1886, a post he was to hold for 34 years. He was fortunate to have inherited the mantel of the Revd. William Macfarlane, who came to the Abbey in 1856 with a large private fortune which he used to restore the Abbey, fund a new church school and build a large new vicarage in the fashionable gothic style. By all accounts Nathaniel Poyntz inherited a very well tended and happy parish.

According to the Abbey’s excellent records, Poyntz continued his predecessor’s Oxford Tractarian beliefs which embraced high church ceremony. He held strong views as to how his church should be run and how his flock should behave, and he regarded himself as the parish’s spiritual leader in all matters; from the quality of its cricket and football teams to parliamentary elections.

Curiously, when Tompion no.457 was sold in 1941 the Revd. Poyntz had been dead some 21 years. His father, Commander Newdigate Poyntz, had been a naval officer of no notable means, and quite how the Revd. Poyntz came by the Tompion is curious, possibly it was a present from a grateful parishioner. When it was finally sold in 1941 one can only assume that it was entered for sale by his only surviving son, Richard Stephen Pierrepont Poyntz, who subsequently died in 1956.

The recently restored Dorchester Abbey commissioned an excellent book in 2005; Dorchester Abbey, Church and People 635-2005, by Dr. Kate Tiller, which details the history of the Abbey and gives a fascinating insight into the lives of its past Bishops, Abbots and Vicars, with a number of pages devoted to Nathaniel Poyntz.

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Product Description

Tompion’s miniature series of domestic table clocks

Tompion’s surviving miniature striking spring clocks (10 complete and 1 remnant) are listed on p.209 of this catalogue.

The early 1690s were a particularly busy and fruitful time for Thomas Tompion’s workshops, he had upgraded his designs of domestic clocks and he was also working on a number of Royal commissions. These included the year-going spring-driven Mostyn Tompion and the silver-cased balance/pendulum-control campaign clock, both for William III, as well as no.222, the smallest of his wooden cased table clocks, probably commissioned for Queen Mary. It may be that the commissioning of no.222 encouraged Tompion to offer smaller sizes of standard table clocks incorporating his superb pull quarter repeat system but, whatever the reason, from c.1693 Tompion first began to produce miniature versions of his striking and repeating table clocks.

This was not the first time that Tompion had successfully tackled clocks of smaller dimensions, testimony being the beautiful harlequin pair of table clocks of c.1683, no.21 (Fitzwilliam Museum, obj. M.3-1965), and the Lonsdale Tompion no.23, although he housed these extraordinary timepieces in gilt-brass and blued-steel cases. A year or so later Tompion then produced two standard wooden cased Phase 1 timepieces in miniature, nos.47 and 51.

All of Tompion’s miniature striking table clocks were made between c.1693 and c.1710, and were all housed in Phase 2 cases. Of his miniatures the lowest serial numbered movement is 215, but he did not fit his usual repeat system and the type of spandrel used suggests that that clock remained unfinished until after c.1696, by which date a new smaller pattern of ‘ornate cherub head’ spandrel had been commissioned.

In line with Tompion’s known practice, study of the recorded miniature movements by their features, forms possible batches within the series. If his batch production was around four, as in c.1696, this might suggest that more were made, or started, which are now missing (c.1693: 215, 225 & 226/ c.1696: 270, 271, 272 & 285/ c.1703: 414/ c.1707: 457, 460 & 503).

Apart from the necessity of having sets of smaller scale movement component castings made, Tompion also had to consider the implications of scaling down his dials and cases, both of which required new mounts and handles. The first miniature table clock Tompion completed was no.225 and, as Tompion had just made a new ‘foliate mask’ spandrel for use on the sub-miniature dial of no.222, this was also incorporated into the first two miniature dials of 225 and 226.

At the same time Tompion tackled the production of the new miniature cases. For these smaller clocks every element was scaled down beautifully and in proportion, so that it is quite difficult to ascertain their size when looking at an image or photograph. Tompion commissioned a new ‘thistle bud scroll’ handle, scaled to match, and this small handle was only used on the miniature cases.

From c.1696, on no.270, a new ‘ornate cherub head’ spandrel was commissioned for the miniature dials and this pattern was also used to complete the first of the series no.215. From then on Tompion used this spandrel on all his miniature, as well as mid-sized clocks.

As was Tompions practice, having perfected the miniature movements, they were made to a pattern that hardly changed for the next 15 to 20 years. They were produced in batches, so each could be finished as and when required. In the second batch of clocks – 270, 271, 272 & 285 – the third clock was signed George Graham and appears to have been left stranded in stock and not taken off the shelf and finished until after Tompion’s demise.

Over the whole period of their production, the miniature movements show the usual developments in production at the same time as they can be seen on his full sized examples – changes in engravers as well as engraving patterns, modifications to the repeat levers from a cock and post to double-cock and the introduction of recesses to the base of the plates.

 

The Reverend NCS Poyntz (1846-1920) graduated from Pembroke College, Oxford and served a number of curacies before his appointment at the Abbey in 1886, a post he was to hold for 34 years. He was fortunate to have inherited the mantel of the Revd. William Macfarlane, who came to the Abbey in 1856 with a large private fortune which he used to restore the Abbey, fund a new church school and build a large new vicarage in the fashionable gothic style. By all accounts Nathaniel Poyntz inherited a very well tended and happy parish.

According to the Abbey’s excellent records, Poyntz continued his predecessor’s Oxford Tractarian beliefs which embraced high church ceremony. He held strong views as to how his church should be run and how his flock should behave, and he regarded himself as the parish’s spiritual leader in all matters; from the quality of its cricket and football teams to parliamentary elections.

Curiously, when Tompion no.457 was sold in 1941 the Revd. Poyntz had been dead some 21 years. His father, Commander Newdigate Poyntz, had been a naval officer of no notable means, and quite how the Revd. Poyntz came by the Tompion is curious, possibly it was a present from a grateful parishioner. When it was finally sold in 1941 one can only assume that it was entered for sale by his only surviving son, Richard Stephen Pierrepont Poyntz, who subsequently died in 1956.

The recently restored Dorchester Abbey commissioned an excellent book in 2005; Dorchester Abbey, Church and People 635-2005, by Dr. Kate Tiller, which details the history of the Abbey and gives a fascinating insight into the lives of its past Bishops, Abbots and Vicars, with a number of pages devoted to Nathaniel Poyntz.

Additional information

Dimensions 5827373 cm