Height

12½ inches.

Case

The case of ebonised fruitwood, veneered onto an oak carcass, with solid-silver mounts. The double-S scroll silver handle surmounting the dome, with silver foliate and scroll mounts to the front, back and sides. The main double-return top moulding above the front door, with a silver mask-and-scroll fret inset into the top rail, the sides with glazed rectangular apertures. All above the main base moulding, and resting on four ring-turned silver bun feet.

Dial

The velvet-covered 6-inch square brass dial with silver winged cherub spandrels, the centre with circular silver ferrules to the winding holes and the date aperture, above VI. The silvered-brass chapter ring engraved with Roman hours and fancy half-hour markers, the Arabic minutes, every 5 within the division ring, and indicated by intricate pierced and shaped solid-silver hands.

Movement

The twin fusee movement with five knopped and finned baluster pillars; the going train with restored knife-edge verge escapement and short bob pendulum; the strike train governed by a rack and snail and sounding the hours on the larger vertically mounted bell. The pull-quarter repeat system striking on three vertical bells via three parallel hammers, the backplate engraved with tulips, foliage and a central scroll cartouche signed Jacobus Hafsenius Londini.

Duration

8 days.

Provenance

1958, with Garrards, exhibited at Grosvenor House;
1992, with Anthony Woodburn, exhibited at Grosvenor House;
Lord & Lady Harris Collection;
Private collection UK.

Comparative Literature

Cescinsky & Webster, English Domestic Clocks, 1913, illust. p.169;
Antiquarian Horology, vol. 29, 2006, p.640;
Loomes, Clockmakers of Britain, 2014 ed., p.249 and illust. Fig.133;
Radage, Meinen & Radage, Charles Gretton: Clock & Watchmaking through the Golden Age, 2016, pp.270-71, 279-81, 285-86, 308.

Literature

Antiquarian Horology, vol. 37, 1958, p. 41;
Loomes, Clockmakers of Britain, 1981, p. 288
Clocks Magazine, May 1992, p. 7;
Dzik, Engraving on English Table Clocks, 2019, pp. 77, 81-83, 146, 193 and Fig 6.14 and online (ref H3-2).

Notes

James (Jacobus) Hassenius was of Dutch extraction and was born in Moscow. His father, Andrei Gassenius, was an apothecary whose own father came to Russia from Holland during the rule of Mikhail Fedorovich in 1616, working as a court pharmacist. Hassenius was sent to London and was made a free Brother of the Clockmakers’ Company in January 1682-3, paying quarterage until 1697, but he did not sign the Oath of Allegiance in that year.

In 1697, Peter the Great embarked on his Grand Embassy around Europe, whose primary goal was to strengthen and broaden the Holy League – Russia’s alliance with several countries (Austrian Hapsburgs, Poland, Lithuania and the Venetian Empire) against the Ottoman Empire in the struggle for the northern coastline of the Black Sea. The Tsar was invited to London by William III, where he stayed from 11 January to 21 April 1698. On his arrival, he concentrated on acquiring valuable technology: studying the techniques of city-building that he would use to great effect later at Saint Petersburg; in Deptford’s royal dockyards, he observed ship-building methods that later helped him raise a Russian fleet; he visited the Royal Observatory aiming to improve Russian navigational skills; and at Woolwich Arsenal, he learned about the production of artillery. All the while, he concentrated on gathering skilled workmen and, although reports differ, he was able to persuade between 60, and up to 500, English workmen to return with him and enter the service of the Russian state.

On 1 April 1698, Hassenius was enrolled in service as clockmaker to the Tsar, on a salary of 150 roubles with 20 roubles for his travel and relocation expenses. By May, Hassenius had received a warrant from the Treasury to the Customs Commissioners to export to Muscovy for the use of his Imperial Majesty the Czar of Muscovy, 13 clocks, 3 large or long clocks, a great table clock and some tools his majesty bought in the Strand. It is interesting to note that amongst William III’s clocks at this time, were two impressive commissions made by Tompion and Knibb in c.1677, which were dressed in the same manner as this Hassenius example (ebony, silver and velvet). If Peter the Great saw and took a liking to those clocks, it seems possible that this similarly presented example might have been made specially for the Tsar, and could even have been amongst the Muscovy Export clocks. Hassenius finally presented himself in Moscow on 10 August 1698 and worked in the Armoury Chamber.

Hassenius worked initially on the construction of a new musical turret clock that was to be built for the Spassky Tower in the Kremlin and with the Frenchman, Joaquin Garnol, he was also required to teach clockmaking to Russian students. Using his own funds, in March 1699, Hassenius undertook repairs to the courtyard that housed the State clock workshops. Although reimbursed by the Armoury Chamber, he was admonished for having undertaken this work on his own initiative and given orders never to do so again.

In 1701 Hassenius supervised the transfer of the Armoury Chamber’s clock-making facilities to new premises, using staff from the Armoury Chamber. This included moving finished parts of large turret clocks, instruments and other equipment. The facility was moved to larger premises belonging to another clockmaker, F A Golovin, who was in overall charge of the State’s clocks.

As well as working on the new turret clock, both Hassenius and Garnol were required to undertake other urgent tasks for the Tsar, such as the repair of pocket watches and living room clocks sent to him by the Armoury Chamber, making new pocket watches from steel flat and rectangular, using anvils with a nose… big and small and strings thick and thin.

It seems that in February 1702 Hassenius was let go and expelled from the Armoury Chamber. So Garnol was left to supervise completing work on the new turret clock alone, but for a variety of reasons, including lack of labour, there was little progress achieved. By 1703 work on the new turret clock was still not finished, and in fact it wasn’t until December 1706 that the new musical clock for the Spassky Tower in the Kremlin was completed and started working.

In the meantime, Peter the Great had decided to buy a couple of ready-made turret clocks in Amsterdam, bringing them disassembled to Moscow, and reassembling them onsite with the use of 4 Dutch craftsmen that were hired for the purpose. It was suggested that Hassenius should be re-hired to work on this but it is unknown if this occurred or what ultimately became of these two Dutch tower clocks and this project.

The last recorded mention of Hassenius in the Russian Archives is in 1715, when the clockmaker appeared as a witness in a family litigation case. From this it is known that Hassenius continued to live in the German settlement of Moscow, whilst retaining his English connections.

Aside from his work as master clockmaker, Jacob Hassenius (Gassenius) is more generally associated in Russia with the first public lottery, and he is acknowledged to have been the first person to introduce this in Russia. This first lottery was held in 1700 with the permission of the Tsar. Advertisements were posted around the city for what was called a foreign lottery. In return for the purchase of a ticket for 1 hryvnia (10 kopeks), one lucky winner would win 1000 hryvnia, with other prizes awarded of less value. An audience was assembled on the day of the draw in the courtyard of the clock workshop facilities of Hassenius and Garnol, and two boys were selected to pull out the winning ticket from a wooden box. Hassenius kept 10% percent of the takings (1 kopek per hryvnia).

This new form of entertainment was known by its English name lottery, and is referred to as being one of the first examples of a foreign language word being imported into the Russian lexicon.