The superb Phase 3 case of burr-walnut veneered onto an oak carcass with cross-grain walnut mouldings, the inverted-bell top with archetypal fire-gilt foliate-tied handle. The arched side apertures, with re-instated walnut fretwork, within typical moulded frames. The front door with ‘hidden’ horizontal pivot-hinges and fire-gilt scroll escutcheons, the base on moulded block feet. The full back door with similar hinges and matching fretwork, the interior with two brass screw-fixing plates for the movement brackets, and covered with baize to the visible surfaces, punch-numbered 722 to the inside of the base.
The 6½ by 8 inch rectangular Phase 2 gilt-brass dial, signed Geo: Graham, London and flanked by subsidiary dials; the left S/N for Strike/ Silent; the right calibrated 5-35 for regulation, both with original blued-steel beetle hands. The silvered chapter ring with Roman hours and Arabic minutes, every 5 outside their division ring, indicated by fine sculpted blue steel hands. The ornate foliate spandrels, superbly chased in solid-silver, the lower spandrels whole and double-screwed, the upper quarter-versions. The finely matted centre with three winding holes and pinhole adjusted date aperture above VI. The rear of the dial is scratch-marked 722 and is held by four feet with screwed latches, the upper two feet conventional, the lower latched via cocks above the frontplate.
The highly complex and substantial full Grande Sonnerie movement with heavy plates, held by eight baluster pillars with screwed latches. The three trains with original chains to the barrels and fusees; the going train with Graham’s silent gut-and-roller escapement, the pendulum spring suspended from the rise-and-fall lever regulated via a snail, and adjusted through the dial; the quarter and hour trains with rack-and-snail governance; the quarters sounding on the small bell, while the hour strikes on the larger bell (its rim file-marked XX), both mounted above. The plain backplate stamp-numbered 722 to the bottom centre.
Unlike earlier clocks from the workshop Grande Sonnerie series, for nos. 721 and 722 only, Graham upgraded his repeat levers, first mounting them onto the frontplate and then developing improved cord attachments, using an extra cock with easy-release grub-screws. As with his silent gut-and-roller escapement (here re-instated), this was a refinement not apparently found on any other Graham spring clocks.
Possibly made for export to the Iberian peninsular and, subsequently, the case and movement separated;
The movement was first sold at Sotheby’s London, 5 June 1997, lot 315, when reputedly owned by an Austrian family, then sold again in 2009; the case purchased in Seville, Spain, in the 1970s by a UK collector, by then housing a movement by Delander;
Private collection, UK, 2016.
Evans, Thomas Tompion at the Dial and Three Crowns, 2006, p.85;
Evans, Carter & Wright, Thomas Tompion 300 Years, 2013, p.610;
Garnier & Carter, The Golden Age of English Horology, 2015, p.203.
Height 18 inches; width 12¼ inches; depth 8 inches.
The dial retains the original workshop scratch-number, 722, to the back. Later assembly marks are found on some of the frontplate cocks, variously scratch-marked: Registio, Leve, Alzate, Dito, and Stela. The last repairer’s scratch-mark on the movement is dated 1936 7/12, with Momo[?] 1936 also found on the back of the dial.
Apart from numerous anonymous clockmaker’s scratch-marks, little is known about the background of no.722. It was certainly in the Iberian Peninsular, as various re-assembly marks are in Portuguese or Spanish. However the last repair mark is dated 7 December 1936, which was during the devastating Spanish Civil War, arguably making Portugal the more likely place of origin. Exactly when the case and movement became separated is uncertain, but both elements were unsurprisingly recognised as significant enough to be re-used, being finally re-united for the current owner in 2016.
Normally hidden behind the case mask is a small sector to the dial edge above XII, perhaps intended for winding shutters with maintaining power that proved impractical and were never fitted. This was probably due to lack of space amongst the complex under-dial work, as well as within the plates, which already necessitated the lower dial feet to be unconventionally latched via cocks. No.722 was undoubtedly on the bench at the same time as no.721, which lacks this sector. Together, they were a unique and complicated departure from Graham’s standard productions, the sector perhaps inferring that no.722 was the experimental version of the concurrent pair, at least in this instance.
Graham’s two ‘special’ walnut cases, nos. 721 and 722, share burr-veneers that appear to have been cut from the same ‘root-ball’, while also sharing unique details that differ from his standard ebony table clocks; they have full doors, front and back, with concealed pivot hinges to ease access of their massive movements through the back; their insides have two special screw-fixing plates and are covered in baize to seal out dust; meanwhile, they are not numbered on the door sills, but on their bases, underneath their seatboards.
The Iberian Graham no.722, circa 1736
A highly important George II gilt-brass and silver-mounted burr-walnut Phase 3 full Grande Sonnerie striking and trip-repeating table clock with silent escapement, one of only two made by George Graham, London