A Wonderful c.1740 Continental Provincial Forged Iron Rack-Striking Chamber Clock

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Origin: Probably French, Possibly Italian
Period: Early/Mid Eighteenth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1720-50
Height: 14.5 inches with armorial or 13 inches without
Depth: 6 inches (at extremities)
Diameter: 8 inches (at face)

The provincial forged iron framed rack striking chamber clock, having a two train weight-driven two-handed movement with anchor escapement and gravity rack striking gathered via shaped collet to the second wheel and sounding on a bell mounted above, the posted frame with rectangular section posts continuing down at the base to form standing spikes, the front with 8 inch circular brass Roman numeral dial with ring-turned and twelve pointed star hatch-engraved centre within chapter ring with button-turned half hour markers and large Arabic five minutes to outer track, with remnants of red paint to the numerals, the whole with a pierced brass repousse armorial fret engraved GRIMAUX, A PONT, FARCY to the central oval reserve survives from the middle of the eighteenth century.

The clock is hugely decorative and attractive as is to look at but to function as intended it requires some restoration. It is lacking its pendulum, weights and minute hand. The face has some bending to it. All the parts that are present we believe are original to the clock aside from the the pierced brass armorial which is more than likely associated, so we doubt if it is original to the clock but has been added in the nineteenth century at some juncture. The text of GRIMAUX, A PONT, FARCY, relates to the town of Pont-Farcy in lower Normandy in north western France and has been an important crossing point over the centuries.

Chamber or lantern clocks were the first type of clock widely used in private homes. These clocks were fitted in iron cases, and were first known as Gothic clocks because of the style of their decorative mouldings. In the sixteenth century the most prominent makers of Gothic clocks were the Liechti family, whose workshop was in Winterthur. Early domestic clocks (like turret clocks) were driven by suspended weights, and this technology eventually led to the long-case clock (or grandfather clock) of the seventeenth century. Until that time clocks in most houses were confined to the nobility; ordinary people were dependent on sundials, or the tower clocks of local churches.

Wonderfully evocative of the early well-healed Georgian interior, mechanically fascinating and aesthetically pleasing, this is a rare example of what was a complicated domestic clock.

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