The Phase 3 mid-size case comprises an oak carcass with ebony veneers and mouldings, the inverted bell top is surmounted by a well cast gilt-brass foliate tied handle with rosette terminals, specific to Tompion’s mid-size series. The front door is applied with Tompion’s gilt-brass acanthus cast sound fret to the top rail, having raised mouldings to the aperture and a satyr-mask foliate mount below and with typical gilt-brass foliate cartouche escutcheons, the door sill stamped 545. The glazed sides are applied with raised breakarch mouldings. The front and rear doors retain the original locks and hinges, the base resting on ebony block feet. The rear door aperture rail painted LOAN 8 CHICHESTER, with corresponding part-cut printed label underneath: ‘…Museum and Art Gallery [Brighton?], Lent by The Chichester Estate’.
The 5¼ by 6 inch Phase 2 dial retains the original fire gilding and is signed Tho: Tompion & Geo: Graham London within foliate decoration by Graver 515 and flanked by subsidiary dials for pendulum regulation and strike/silent, with fine original hands, one thumb-knob adjusted. The main silvered chapter ring has Roman hours and Arabic minutes with lozenge half-hour and half-quarter hour markers. The finely matted centre has a mock pendulum aperture and finely-shaped and sculpted blued-steel hands. Ornate cherub’s head spandrels to the lower dial quadrant held by double screws, with reduced spandrels abutting the subsidiary rings above. The three dial feet are typically latched to the inside of the front plate.
The diminutive but substantial movement has stepped plates and seven ring-turned and knopped pillars all with fine original latches. With spring barrels and fusees, the going train has a pivoted verge escapement with the pendulum spring suspended in Tompion’s usual manner from a brass regulation bar atop the backplate with foliate engraved cocks. The hour strike train utilises the larger bell governed by a rack-and-snail. The pull-quarter repeat train operates on Tompion’s all-or-nothing system with double-cocked interlocking blued-steel levers on the backplate repeating the hours and quarters, the latter on the smaller bell. 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.
The backplate is superbly and typically decorated by Graver 515, with fine quality scrolling foliage, flowers and strap work within a line border and centred by an oval cartouche signed Tho: Tompion & Geo: Graham London. Above the cartouche is a shell flanked by twin birds, below it rests on a pair of cornucopiae, with further birds, garlands and strap work to the sides encircled by two serpents. The central base of the backplate is clearly numbered 545 within the design.
Having started working for Tompion just a year or two before the Newcastle Tompion was made, Graver 515 continued in Graham’s employment until the 1740s, and his quality was outstanding. His subject matter was more extensive than Tompion’s earlier engravers and included eagles and snakes, winged cherubs, trophies, birds, vases and bowls containing fruit or flowers, and insects. However, by the late 1720s, Graham had introduced plain backplates with a signature only.
Ordered from Tompion by Thomas Pelham-Holles of Halland (1693-1768), 1st Duke of Newcastle, Prime Minister, created 1st Baron of Stanmer (1762) with special remainder, thence by descent to his cousin;
Thomas Pelham (1728-1805), 2nd Baron of Stanmer and 1st Earl of Chichester, thence by descent, until sold Sotheby’s 14 December 1995, lot 337;
Private collection U.K.
Height 13 inches; width 8 inches; 5½ inches.
No.545 is the last of the mid-size clocks recorded, and is the only example signed by both Thomas Tompion and George Graham. There is only one other similarly signed table clock surviving, which is the full-size Phase 3 example, no.537 (formerly in the John C Taylor collection, inv. no.152).
No.545 was previously thought to have been ordered by the duke’s father, Thomas, 1st Baron Pelham (1653-1712). However, Tompion died in November 1713 and this is one of his last productions, possibly made at the end of 1712, but more likely during 1713. Either way, as the 1st Lord Pelham died in February 1712, one can deduce with some certainty that it was made for his son, Thomas Pelham-Holles, 1st Duke of Newcastle, for Hallam House, where it likely remained until c.1768.
The recently rediscovered provenance of the Pelham Tompion Sundial (John C Taylor collection, inv. no.109), has re-affirmed the Pelham family of Halland as long-standing customers of Tompion’s over three generations: Firstly, in c.1697, the family ordered longcase no. 284 for use at Halland House; that location confirmed when secondly, in c.1710, they ordered their latitude specific garden sundial; and finally, in c.1713, they ordered this clock, no. 545.
The Pelham family continued their patronage with George Graham; the duke ordering A curious standing clock, which was amongst the effects of Her Grace the Duchess of Newcastle, deceased, when sold by auction on 1st October 1776 (Bath Chronicle 26 Sept. 1776); while the duke’s younger brother reputedly had Graham longcase, no.594, which in 1958 had a plaque For the Right Honble Henry Pelham, Anno Domini 1738, sadly, since removed.
Tompion’s twelve mid-size table clocks were made between c.1695 and c.1712, and their dials and movements show the usual developments in production at the same time as they can be seen on his full size examples: changes in engravers as well as engraving patterns; upgrades to the repeat levers from a cock and post to double-cocks; and the introduction of recesses to the base of the plates, all seen here in his final fully-developed example, no.545 (see list on p.71 of the catalogue).
Graham continued to use ‘ornate cherub’s head’ spandrels on his dials, as well as ‘foliate-tied’ handles and ‘scroll’ escutcheons on the majority of his table clock cases, up until his death in 1751, some 50 years after they were first introduced by Tompion.
For more information on the Pelham family and their seats (with illustrations), see p.102 of the catalogue.
The Newcastle Tompion no.545, circa 1713
A very rare Queen Anne mid-size ebony Phase 3 striking table clock with pull-quarter repeat, one of only two table clocks known signed by both Tompion and Graham