The Knibb-style phase III ebony veneered case is surmounted by thistle bud scroll handle above the cushion moulded top and flanked by four gilt-metal foliate urn finials. The front door applied with unusual gilt-brass, winged double-head escutcheons and a pierced ebony sound fret, inset into the top rail, the sides with similar sound frets above glazed apertures, the case standing on later ebony block feet.
The 5 inch square gilt-brass dial, the silvered brass Roman and Arabic chapter ring (by G.195) has sword hilt half-hour and ‘cross’ half quarter divisions and is signed Jonat Puller, Londini fecit around VI and twin levers above XII, engraved N/S/N around 60, indicating strike/silent for the two strike trains. With well sculpted blued steel hands, finely matted centre and calendar aperture below XII. All flanked by chased gilt-brass winged cherub spandrels and with latches to the three dial feet
The extraordinary triple fusee movement has eight slender latched baluster pillars, the front plate split for the quarter train, the going train has knife-edge verge escapement with a bob pendulum, faceted and engraved for regulation. The hour and quarter strike trains are governed by racks mounted to the frontplate and these in turn are trip-repeated via interlocking twin repeat levers mounted to the backplate. The backplate is beautifully engraved with scrolling foliage and strapwork within a large wheatear border and is signed Jonat Puller, LONDINI, Fecit within a foliate cartouche, all the work of Tompion’s engraver, G.195 (possibly Henry Adeane). The movement is secured to the case by four iron brackets.
Private collection U.K.
R.A. Lee, The Knibb Family Clockmakers, 1964.
Jonathan Puller, London Circa 1690
An extremely rare and important miniature ebony grande-sonnerie table clock.
Not many clocks by Puller survive but those that do indicate he was a very accomplished clockmaker with extraordinary abilities; by any standards, the two recorded miniature grande sonnerie table clocks, of which this is the only one remaining unaltered, are perhaps his greatest achievements. Miniature table clocks are rare but even more so when they date from the 17th century, to combine this with a miniature split-plate grande sonnerie striking movement is remarkable and in this case the result is quite delightful.
Jonathan Puller, London
Pulle(a)r was born c. 1662. He was apprenticed to Nicholas Coxeter in 1676 and passed over to John Miller on Coxeter’s death in 1679. He was made Free of the Clockmakers’ Company in September 1683 and, based at Red Lion Court off Fleet Street, over the next 24 years he is registered as having employed eight apprentices. He was made Assistant in 1701 and attended Court until 1707 when it is presumed that he died.
Puller and his connection with the Knibbs and Thomas Tompion
The pretty proportions and styling of this case are of classic Knibb phase III type, indicating that Puller is likely to have ordered it from Joseph Knibb’s casemaker. This similarity is not a result of plagiarism but more likely to do with contacts and connections. The explanation lies with Puller’s own Master, John Miller (b. c.1652, d.1702).
Miller, was apprenticed to Samuel Knibb in January 1666/7 and, on Samuels death, in c.1670 he was turned over first to Isaac Pusse and then again to Samuel’s cousin, Joseph Knibb. Miller was finally made free in November I674. The few examples extant of Miller’s work have a marked Knibb style and in his teachings to Puller this style, together with Miller’s business connections, obviously continued.
The spandrels are also the pattern found on Knibb’s later phase III clocks, while the unusual escutcheons on this clock appear to be exclusive to Puller; another table clock by Puller using the identical escutcheons is illustrated in Dawson, Drover & Parkes, Early English Clocks, 1982, p.454, pl.664 (Silver mounted clock, Montacute House, National Trust).
In looking more closely, there are also strong similarities to some of Tompion’s work, which may be the result of Puller’s premises, located close to Tompion on Fleet Street.
The second surviving portion of Renter Wardens’ search lists at the Clockmakers’ Co. covers the short period from 1689 to 1693. [Guildhall. Ms.2715/2]:
On 20th March 1689, Puller’s premises were amongst those visited by the Clockmakers’ search party and listed are adjacent makers: Mr Holsted [Robert Halstead], Mr Nabor [possibly William Neighbour the Fromanteel/Graves apprentice free 1685], Mr Wright [Thomas White], Jonathan Rant, Mr Street [Richard], Mr Tompen [Thomas Tompion], Edward Buckenhill, Mr Puller, Mr Gretton, etc.
On 27th February 1690, Puller’s premises were visited again by the Clockmakers’ search party, the relevant portion reading: Coattsworth. Kempe. Puller. Newberry. Drew. Tompion. Edlin. Morley. Neighbour. Wicks. [Weeks?]. Whitehead. Micklewright.
There is little doubt that most suppliers would have made efforts to sell their services in a vicinity they were regularly visiting and the use on this clock of a Tompion thistle bud scroll handle is fascinating; the pattern was produced specifically for Tompion’s miniature table clocks, and are only otherwise found on his miniature series of phase 2 clocks (see Garnier, Carter, The Golden Age of English Clockmaking, 2015, p. 144-149).
There is an even closer and more defined link with Tompion; the engraving on this clock was executed by his engraver, G.195 (possibly Henry Adeane – see Evans, Carter, Wright, Thomas Tompion 300 years, 2013, p.180-183). The backplate is absolutely typical of his work, while the chapter ring is executed in Tompion’s format, with large outer Arabic numerals, ‘sword-hilt’ half-hour marks and ‘cross’ half quarters.
Perhaps the most difficult similarities to explain is the work executed in Puller’s own workshop; the shaped cocks on the frontplate have a distinctly Tompion feel to them and the use of interlocking twin repeat levers to the backplate is only usually seen on clocks with Tompion workshop connections – perhaps it is as simple as Puller paying tribute to his, by then, highly regarded and reputable neighbour? There are several other instances of Puller using full size Tompion handle castings and also following Tompion’s twin subsidiary phase 2 dial layout.