The well-proportioned miniature case, ebony-veneered onto an oak carcass, with a shallow dome surmounted by a knopped and faceted brass handle. The Knibb-type flat-top main mouldings, above glazed sides, the front door with a pierced ebony sound fret to the top rail, with two sets of 19th century(?) paper regulation instructions pasted inside the inset and D-mould framed back door. The conforming moulded plinth raised on four small ebony block feet.
The 4¾ inch square gilt-brass dial has three pinned dial-feet.The finely matted centre with high-position winding holes and faceted calendar aperture, with typical Tompion pin-hole adjustment. The bold silvered-brass chapter ring with inner quarter-hour track, Roman hours and sword hilt half-hour markers, all within an outer minute division ring with inside Arabic five-minutes. Indicated by well-shaped blued-steel hands, and flanked by Tompion’s gilt-brass miniature folded-wing cherub spandrels.
The substantial brass plates held by five latched finned baluster pillars. The wheel trains retaining early-type spring barrels with capped covers and external brass ratchets, their elegant clicks supported by a chamfered brass wishbone spring planted at the bottom centre of the backplate. The going train with verge escapement and short bob pendulum, the strike train retaining the original brass hour-calibrated countwheel mounted on the backplate, and striking on the bell mounted above the plates. The otherwise plain backplate is beautifully signed Tho Tompion Londini Fecit. The movement is secured to the case by two steel screws, through the base of the case, into the bottom pillars.
HM de Liscombe Esq. of Ramsey, Isle of Man;
Christie’s London, 24 November 1992, lot 104 for £37,000;
Private collection, USA;
Chelford House Collection, UK.
Evans, Thomas Tompion at the Dial and Three Crowns, 2006, listed;
Evans, Carter & Wright, Thomas Tompion 300 Years, 2013, p.312-313 (illus.);
Garnier & Hollis, Innovation & Collaboration, 2018, p.292-293 (illus.).
Height 9¾ inches; width 7½ inches; depth 5½ inches
London, 2018, Innovation & Collaboration, exhibit no.84.
This extraordinarily rare little clock appears to be the very first miniature spring clock made or retailed by Tompion. This size of sub-10-inch scale 17th Century table clock is, under any circumstance, exceptionally scarce. By the 1680s, they would become only slightly more numerous, but surviving miniature spring clocks from the 1670s remain exceedingly infrequent and, in Tompion’s oeuvre, unique to this example.
Dating from before Tompion’s renowned uniformity of movements, dials and cases, and in common with the very few Tompion spring clocks surviving from his early career, such as The Olivewood Turntable Tompion (Thomas Tompion 300 Years, 2013, p.310-311), this clock shares characteristics seen in other makers’ clocks, such as Joseph Knibb’s flat-top case mouldings and Henry Jones’s bold-style chapter engraving. Meanwhile, this clock has Tompion’s distinct pin-hole adjusted date, and folded-wing spandrels, that he would continue using when he later standardised his production.
The Liscombe Tompion, circa 1675-77
A unique Charles II miniature pre-numbered ebony striking table clock by Thomas Tompion, London