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Exhibit № 8. Hilkiah Bedford, London, Circa 1663

Exhibit № 8. Hilkiah Bedford, London, Circa 1663

A good Charles II brass octagonal horizontal plate garden sundial.

To be sold with the Hilkiah Bedford longcase, exhibit no.13

When positioned correctly, the dial reads from the North, looking South. The octagonal brass dial plate of simple sparsely decorated form, signed H. Bedford in Hosier Lane inside the southern section. Further engraved with concentric rings: the centre ring with hour divisions; leading up to quarter divisions; then half-quarter divisions inside the Roman hours laid out clockwise; from IIII to XII for the morning on the West side; and XII to VIII for the afternoon on the East side, the outer minute division ring, divided down to two minutes.
The original cast-brass gnomon with angular reading edge above finely cast open scrollwork, 5⅞ inch (150 mm) high and fixed to the octagonal cast-brass dial plate by three large rectangular extended rivets beneath.

£5,000


Height

12 inches by 12 inches (305 mm by 305 mm)

Provenance

Brian Loomes 2006, sold for £1,850;
John C Taylor Collection, inventory no.174

Literature

Loomes, Hilkiah Bedford and a Charles II sundial, 2006, internet

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. It seems he 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 and sundials, including portable universal ring dials, and he took apprentices through the Stationers’ Company between 1656 and 1671.
Hilkiah Bedford’s first premises were at the Sign of the Globe near Holborn-Conduit, where he is believed to have worked on his own from c.1656 to c.1663. There is a ruler in The Science Museum (Object no.1984-4) for laying out sundials, signed H Bedford by Holborn conduit, of the type described by George Serle in his Dialling Universal, 1657. Bedford then moved to premises in Hosier Row near West Smithfield, where he worked between 1663 and 1666, when he was probably driven out by the Great Fire. As his old master had worked in Hosier Lane, he may have moved back there to share Thompson’s premises, or succeed him; thereafter he took premises in Fleet Street near the end of Fetter Lane. The only item we can find recorded by him at Hosier Lane is this sundial, where he was located between 1663 and 1666 and, as few, if any, sundials would be made during the Great Plague of 1665 or the Fire of London in 1666, it looks likely that this sundial was made in 1663 or 1664.
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 1666 all City Companies were desperate to raise funds by whatever means and this is probably why the Clockmakers’ had a purge, 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. It is probably a mark of his reputation and standing that on the first search of instrument makers premises in April 1668, it was he who carried the standard measuring stick, against which all others were checked. Once Free of the Clockmakers’ it is interesting to note that Hilkiah Bedford also started to supply clocks, but only four are currently recorded, including exhibit no.13 on p.58, that may be his first and is being sold together with the current sundial. Hilkiah Bedford died on 6th May 1689 and was buried at St. Dunstan’s in Fleet Street.

Comments: The XII numeral has the X and II separated by a small gap of several ‘minutes’ distance. This is to allow for the shadow of the thickness of the gnomon. Coming up to XII you read the shadow on the West of the gnomon; after XII you read that on the East.
At the time this sundial was made the new pendulum regulated clock had only been available in London for about five years, but these new clocks were of no reliable use without an accurate sundial to set them by.

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Product Description

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. It seems he 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 and sundials, including portable universal ring dials, and he took apprentices through the Stationers’ Company between 1656 and 1671.
Hilkiah Bedford’s first premises were at the Sign of the Globe near Holborn-Conduit, where he is believed to have worked on his own from c.1656 to c.1663. There is a ruler in The Science Museum (Object no.1984-4) for laying out sundials, signed H Bedford by Holborn conduit, of the type described by George Serle in his Dialling Universal, 1657. Bedford then moved to premises in Hosier Row near West Smithfield, where he worked between 1663 and 1666, when he was probably driven out by the Great Fire. As his old master had worked in Hosier Lane, he may have moved back there to share Thompson’s premises, or succeed him; thereafter he took premises in Fleet Street near the end of Fetter Lane. The only item we can find recorded by him at Hosier Lane is this sundial, where he was located between 1663 and 1666 and, as few, if any, sundials would be made during the Great Plague of 1665 or the Fire of London in 1666, it looks likely that this sundial was made in 1663 or 1664.
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 1666 all City Companies were desperate to raise funds by whatever means and this is probably why the Clockmakers’ had a purge, 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. It is probably a mark of his reputation and standing that on the first search of instrument makers premises in April 1668, it was he who carried the standard measuring stick, against which all others were checked. Once Free of the Clockmakers’ it is interesting to note that Hilkiah Bedford also started to supply clocks, but only four are currently recorded, including exhibit no.13 on p.58, that may be his first and is being sold together with the current sundial. Hilkiah Bedford died on 6th May 1689 and was buried at St. Dunstan’s in Fleet Street.

Comments: The XII numeral has the X and II separated by a small gap of several ‘minutes’ distance. This is to allow for the shadow of the thickness of the gnomon. Coming up to XII you read the shadow on the West of the gnomon; after XII you read that on the East.
At the time this sundial was made the new pendulum regulated clock had only been available in London for about five years, but these new clocks were of no reliable use without an accurate sundial to set them by.

Additional information

Dimensions 5827373 cm