The Phase III case, ebony-veneered on an oak carcass, surmounted by Knibb’s gilt-brass faceted foliate-tied handle to the cushion moulded dome top with gilt-brass foliate dome mounts above the quintessential Knibb flat-topped upper cornice moulding with gilt-brass corner finials. 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 sides with matching sound frets and glazed apertures, all above the typical moulded base correctly without feet.
The 6 inch 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 early design. The silvered Roman hour chapter ring with trident 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. Fixing into the case with typical dial turns and with four latched dial feet to the 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 large double-six-hour countwheel, releasing the III-side 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.
Sotheby’s, 21 March 1975, lot 44;
Private Collection UK;
Sold by Camerer Cuss & Co., St. James’s, London, June 1985 to:
The Geoffrey Heywood Collection, and thence by descent.
Lee, The Knibb Family Clockmakers, 1964;
Dawson, Drover & Parkes, Early English Clocks, 1982.
Height 11¾ inches; width 9½ inches; depth 6½ inches
This is a lovely example of Knibb’s ubiquitous Phase III pattern case, but with complex linked countwheel striking, first pioneered by him in c.1672 (early Phase I example from The John C Taylor 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 first half of the 168os; the dial signature Joseph Knibb London is now no longer Latinised, but Knibb is still using his early winged-cherub head spandrels. Meanwhile the backplate remains in his earlier open tulip style, signed in Latin in an arc Joseph Knibb Londini Fecit. Knibb’s backplates had generally changed to more profuse foliage by the latter part of the decade, often with the central non-Latinised signature in a reserve on two lines.
The scarce double-six-hour Grande Sonnerie striking system is a power saving arrangement first used in continental Europe and later adopted by Joseph Knibb. In a plain hour-striking clock, the system requires a maximum of 42 blows to the hour bell, as opposed to 78 blows on the usual twelve-hour system, in any 24-hour period.
In Knibb’s double-six hour arrangement, by contrast, 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 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, 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.
Joseph Knibb, London, circa 1685
A fine Charles II ebony and gilt-brass mounted Phase III double-six-hour Grande Sonnerie striking spring table clock