Jonathan Lowndes. At the Dial in Pall Mall, London. From the Wetherfield Collection of Clocks. Acquired by Arthur S. Vernay, Inc.
This important clock has some interesting ownership history. It was owned by Mr David Wetherfield, of Black Heath, England as was included in his fine collection. A collection that included some 224 clocks that were spread throughout his house and took him some forty years to compile. It was said that every room was occupied by many clocks. Thirteen clocks graced his dining room. (I would happily argue that he never dined alone and was always amongst friends.) After his death in March of 1928, the executors began to search for an English buyer to purchase the collection in its entirety. It was Mr. Wetherfield’s wish to not have the Americans buy them. He wanted them to stay in their home country. The end result was that they were sent to Auction. Francis Mallet of Mallet and Son, a Bond Street antique dealer acted in collaboration with the well known dealer-collector Percy Webster and the American furniture and clock dealer, Arthur S. Vernay of NYC bought the entire collection for $33,000 pounds. As a result 96 of the clocks came to America. Today, the clocks from this collection are now spread around the world. This clock is pictured in The Wetherfield Collection of English Clocks on page 29, plate 36. It is also pictured in Britten’s Old English Clocks – The Wethersfield Collection as figure 86. It is illustrated in Wheeler’s Old English Furniture, in figure 131
This fine case exhibits excellent proportions. This example stands approximately 92 inches tall and is approximately 19.25 inches wide at the widest molding on the hood. The dial is approximately 12 inch square. This clock was made circa 1690.
The case is constructed in oak and is decoratively veneered in richly figured walnut. This case also features a highly complex inlaid decoration that is called marquetry. This complex inlay pattern and was all the rage in London during the period of 1690 through 1725 in long case design. Separate pieces of wooden veneer, often colored, are laid out in decorative patterns. This example features a "Seaweed marquetry" pattern. Long vine like intersecting patterns are laid out on the forward facing surfaces of the case including on many of the shaped surfaces of the moldings. Please note the uneven surface of this design caused by the shifting of the oak substructure and the shrinkage of the veneer. This is a tell tale sign that this case has age and is not a reproduction.
This fine example now stands flat to the floor on an applied molding that is attached to the base. At one time it was slightly raised up off the floor on very thin wooden pad feet. A double stepped molding transitions the profile line gentle up to the base section. The base is somewhat compressed as compared with long case clocks of a latter period. The waist is long and narrow which highlights the excellent proportions of the case. The waist door is quite large and fills the waist section. It is trimmed with an applied molding and also features a circular cut out in the center. This circular opening in the design is trimmed with a brass ring and is fitted with glass. This window measures just over four inches in diameter and is called a "Lenticle." Its purpose is to allow one to view the motion of the brass faced pendulum bob with out having to open the door of the clock. It also informs the admirer that this clock is fitted with a long pendulum which was considered somewhat new technology for the day. The sides of this case are decoratively finished. They are horizontally veneered in walnut and features line inlaid paneled designs. This was the tradition of many London cabinetmakers. The bonnet or hood is designed with an inverted bell caddy top and central finial plinth. This is flanked by two two additional plinths. All are fitted with ball and spire finials. The finials are turned from wood and gilded. Below this is a pierced frieze or blind fret, a boldly formed hood molding and an additional section of blind fret-work. Large rectangular glass side lights are positioned on each side of the hood. The squared hood door is fitted with three-quarter Doric columns. These and the quarter Doric columns located at the back of the case terminate in brass capitals.
The twelve and a half inch square dial is brass and features applied decorations in the form of twin cherub and crown spandrels, large minute ring with diamond half-quarter and half-hour markers and seconds ring. The engraved chapter ring frames the matted center on the dial. This center section is textured in an attempt to make the finely formed steel hands more visible when viewing the dial. The month calendar, which is framed with decorative a herringbone engraving along the canted edge and the subsidiary seconds dial are located here. The seconds hole and the winding holes are decorated with ring turnings. The applied time ring is engraved with an interior minute ring, Roman hour numerals, a separate minute ring located out side the hours and five minute markers which are an Arabic form. The time ring along with the seconds ring and calendar are silvered. This clock is signed on the lower section of this time ring by the Maker along with his working location. Four heavily cast brass spandrels are applied to the corners of the dial. The area between the spandrels are decoratively embellished with engravings on the dial sheet.
This weight driven movement is constructed in brass and features a very unusual strike train design. The strike train is governed by an internal rack striking the hour on a large cast iron bell that is mounted on a stand above the movement. The design of the internal rack is somewhat unusual. The rack is more commonly located on the outside the front plate. An other unusual feature is that this movement strikes once on the half hours. This is done on a second smaller cast iron bell. This is also mounted above the movement on a bell stand. As for the construction of the works, five knob and finned posts support the two large brass plates. Steel shafts support the brass gearing. Both winding barrels are grooved. It is designed to run eight-days on a full wind. The escapement is a recoil design and features a seconds length pendulum. Overall, this movement is excellent quality. The fact that it survives today in excellent working order is proof of this.
This clock was made circa 1710. It stands approximately 8 feet 5.5 inches tall to the top of the center finial. Measuring at the upper hood molding, the largest part of the case, this clock is approximately 20 wide and 10.75 inches deep.
About Jonathan at the Dial in Pall Mall, London Lowndes
Jonathan Lowndes is a celebrated clockmaker. He is listed as a clockmaker in Brian Loomes Clockmakers and Watchmakers of the World and in Britten’s Old Clocks and Watches and their Makers. In 1680, he is listed in the Clockmakers Company and served as a steward in 1696. He remained a member until 1710. Longcase, bracket and lantern clocks are known. He also made watches. Several other clocks are known. A bracket clock about 1685 was also included in the Wetherfield Collection. The Long Island Historical Society also had a bracket clock.
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