The ebony veneered case is surmounted by a silver foliate tied handle with upturned leaf base plates above the cushion moulded top with fine quality silver foliate repoussé mounts to the sides and front. The front door with cast silver winged cherub head escutcheons; the left escutcheon swivelling to reveal lock. The top rail inset with a pierced ebony sound fret.
6½ inch square brass dial covered in black silk velvet and applied with a solid silver chapter ring with trident half hour markers, Roman hours and Arabic minutes with four silver winged cherub spandrels to the corners, the centre with silver beaded collars to the winding holes and date square below XII. The later sculpted silver hands with blued steel tip to the minute hand.
With ten latched baluster pillars, split front plate, knife-edge verge escapement and bob pendulum. The hour and quarter strike trains governed by two engraved countwheels linked by a trip lever to the backplate, The backplate is symmetrically engraved with tulips and scrolling foliage and signed in the centre Joseph Knibb Londini Fecit.
Charles Harry St. John Hornby Esq. Shelley House, Chelsea, Circa 1900.
R.A. Lee, The Knibb Family Clockmakers, 1964, pp. 70 plates 77, 78, 79.
The St. John Hornby Knibb Circa 1680
An exquisite Charles II ebony and silver mounted grande-sonnerie phase II table clock.
Price on application.
Joseph Knibb’s series of silver-mounted phase II table clocks are arguably the most aesthetically pleasing of all 17th Century domestic clocks. There are only nine examples recorded and this, The St. John Hornby Knibb, is one of only two full grande sonnerie phase II examples.
Perhaps the most famous of the phase II series is The George Daniels Roman striking Knibb, which made £1.3 million at auction in 2012.
In The Knibb Family Clockmakers, 1964, p.112, R. A. Lee writes; Of all makers Joseph [Knibb] was by far the most daring when it came to methods of striking the hours and subdivisions of the hour. His full grande sonnerie striking system, found in this clock, epitomes Joseph Knibb’s experimentation with the finest strike work.
While a standard hour striking clock requires 78 blows on the hour bell in a twelve-hour period, however with grande sonnerie striking this increases fourfold to 312 strikes. An 8-day clock covers that cycle 16 times and thus a standard clock must strike the bell 1248 times, while the grande sonnerie equivalent needs power to allow the bell to be struck 4992 times.
There are fewer than ten grande sonnerie spring clocks recorded by Joseph Knibb and over half of these have the double-six system to reduce power.
The delicacy of manufacture and power required to run a full grande sonnerie striking system goes some way to explaining why so few other 17th Century makers tackled clocks of this complication.