Eardley Norton of London England. A musical tall clock.
This very impressive tall case clock measures approximately 8 feet 10 inches or 106 inches tall. At it's base, this case has a foot print that is 29 inches wide and 23 inches deep.
The reason for these oversized dimension is that this case houses a musical movement. The front portion is a fairly typical eight day, weight powered time and strike format. This brass movement is designed to strike each hour on a cast iron bell. The striking system is actuated on a rack and snail set up. Behind this movement is a wind organ that boast 54 wind pipes and two separate bellows. Three tunes are pinned into a large wooden barrel. A musical song plays once each hour. This portion of the mechanism is driven by a large brass covered lead weight. The power from this weight drives and fills two large air bellows. The air is then driven through the musical pipes as valves are selected by the drum. It is interesting to note that Eardley Norton's niece, Sarah Norton married Samuel Green, an established organ builder, on January 1st, 1772. This may have been the source of this mechanism.
The case is veneered in burl walnut veneers that are applied over an oak substructure. The veneers feature excellent figure and retain and older finish. The bombe' shaped base is raised off the floor by an applied molding that rests flat to the floor. The base features a broad crossbanded framing and the front corners are canted. The waist section steps in. The corners are canted and this beveled edge terminates in a simple lamb's tongue molding. This center section is fitted with a large waist door that is fancifully shaped at the top. This door is also cross banded. Through this door one can access the interior of the case. The sides of the waist are fitted with wooden grills that are backed in cloth. This is designed to allow the sound of the mechanism to more easily escape the case yet provides adequate dust protection. The hood features a caddy top that is nicely shaped. Additional sounds frets are installed in this area. A carving is applied to the center. Turned wooden columns are applied to the sides of the bonnet. These flank the arched bonnet door which opens to a composite brass dial.
This style of dial predates the painted dial. It is composed of a brass base sheet that is decorated with applied brass spandrels and chapter rings. In the arch of the dial is a silent / strike indicator. This allows one to turn on and off the striking portion of the clock by moving the indicating hand manually. The large chapter ring is also applied to the dial. This ring displays the hours in a Roman numeral format. The five minute markers are indicated in each of the hour positions. The center of this section is nicely matted and engraved. This was most likely done to aide in ones ability to located the hands while reading the dial. A brass dial will tarnish making it somewhat difficult to read in a room lit by candles. This dial also features the subsidiary seconds dial which is engraved and silvered. It is in this location that this dial is signed with the Maker's name, "Eardley Norton / St. John's Street / London." The steel hands are wonderfully made.
This very unusual clock was made circa 1775.
About Eardley Norton of London, England.
Eardley Norton is listed as working at 49 St. John’s Street, Clerkenwell between 1762 and 1794. He was member of the Clockmakers’ Company being freed in 1762 an enjoyed a reputation as a very skilled mechanic. He is best known for making complex timepieces, sometimes with musical and astronomical movements for the export markets. This included Turkey and the Far East. The most notable of which may be his four dial astronomical clock which he made to stand in the library of Buckingham House (now Buckingham Palace, London). In addition, there are clocks made by him in the Royal Collection, numerous museums worldwide and some of the world’s finest collections including a bracket clock in the Virginia Museum, a very small cartel clock in the National Museum of Stockholm, a marine chronometer in the Ilbert Collection and an elaborate automaton clock with organ in the Palace Museum located in Peking. Norton made an astronomical clock for George III which still stands in Buckingham Palace. On his death, his business was taken over by the partnership of Gravell and Tolkien.
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