Uncovering the history and stories of antique clocks, barometers, chronometers and fine antique furniture
Tempus Fugit; time is passing. Time has certainly passed us by pretty quickly this year and it certainly doesn’t feel like five minutes since we at Raffety were exhibiting at the Masterpiece Fair in late June/early July. Now Christmas is approaching, the time of year for mulled wine, mince pies and Christmas puddings and clocks! Here in Kensington Church Street we are thinking of laurel garlands and sparkling baubles as we are about to decorate the shop and hopefully tempt our collectors, old and new with our colourful display of beautiful clocks and objects from the 17th and 18th centuries.
In the gallery we have on display a selection of clocks and barometers that may be just the thing to find in ones Christmas stocking! For example carriage clocks dating from the early 19th century, always delightful with their polished brass and gilded cases, visible platform escapements and pearly white enamel dials or grand gilded and engraved examples. They all twinkle and chime on the hour and half hours, one example we have is a ‘Grande Sonnerie’, striking on two gongs, a musical melody in itself! Another we have still retains its original travelling box. These small clocks would delight any collector and would make the perfect gift.
If you are not in the mood for carriage clocks then perhaps small mantel clocks would be more appropriate. There are small and pretty Regency period clocks, one by James Gorham, a Kensington maker in a figured rosewood case. Another by Brown of Charing Cross Road, in an elegant arched top mahogany case with discreet brass stringing and mounted on brass ball feet. For the more colourful and flamboyant, you could choose a clock in a porcelain case, possibly by Coalport. Flowers and horology certainly go hand in hand with this colourful example! The timepiece was made by Adam Thomson of Bond Street, the porcelain flowers and bright polychrome colours are extraordinary! If you are someone who loves rich ormolu there is a lovely Regency timepiece in a crisply drawn rococo case. There are others too, ones with marble bases and ormolu mounts, one with pillars and a recumbent lion to keep an eye on us all!
This Aladdin’s cave holds many ideas and surprises. You may bump into the late Stuarts, early Georgians and elegant Regency periods, but follow your feet and let your imagination take hold of you as you can also creep into the reign of Queen Victoria. You can see two Skeleton clocks with their pierced silvered dials, one in the Gothic taste. That one in particular is signed by Benson, a company established in 1844 and closed in 1973. Benson held the Royal Warrant and showed at exhibitions. Both clocks stand on rounded rectangular bases and are covered with their original glass domes.
When it comes to price there is a bracket for everyone’s pocket. The carriage clocks range from £3000 to under £7,000 and mantel clocks and skeleton clocks from £2,000 to under £7000.
If you are thinking about the great British weather other Christmas then think no further than obtaining a barometer; there are many here to choose from, in-fact a whole wall has been dedicated to them. They come in all varieties, stick or wheel shaped and all are completely different in taste. The early ones date from the time of Queen Anne and George I but the variety and scope is huge for all taste and pocket. On display are mahogany ones in patinated and figured cases, satinwood examples with tulipwood banding and very pretty. All have either swan-neck pediments or broken-arch pediments with brass urns as decoration. One handsome example has not only a barometer to tell you whether its blowing a snowstorm or sending us a heat-wave but also a clock with a week’s duration movement to tell you the time – so you can both; there’s value for money!!
Another example is a stick barometer dating from the first quarter of the 19th century has inlaid Mother of Pearl which is extremely decorative. All these pieces are from the latter part of the 18th century into the early 19th century. The majority of these barometers are signed by the makers and, like the clocks, are in full working order.
The prices for these precious and unusual gifts vary. We have a selection within a price range of £2-3000, whilst other examples will be from £3-9,000. There is a small handful over that price range but that figure tends towards the early examples. Still, if one wishes to really celebrate the Christmas weather in style there is a stunning barometer topped with the Prince of Wales feathers and has gorgeous verre eglomise panels. It is by John Russell of Falkirk who was barometer maker to the Prince of Wales who became King George IV.
Here at Raffety we are known for our diversity when it comes to clocks; the variety is varied and colourful, whether its ebony, mahogany, walnut, satinwood or lacquer, there is something for every established collector and for a beginner just setting out in the mystery of horology. There are other items though that are equally as attractive which would make ideal gifts. Here you will stumble across a musical box by Du Commun of Geneva which plays six musical airs, oval and circular brass wine coolers which you will see house colourful Poinsettias and a scattering of 18th century English Delft, purely decorative and of the period.
For good measure there is a charming little object that every clock collector should have. It is a late 18th century watch stand in the shape of a town house. You would have hung your gold watch in it before retiring for the night. A perfect gift for the collector who has everything!
Happy Christmas from us all at Raffety Clocks
article by Stephen Wild
** You can find all these clocks and barometers for sale on our website or in our shop at 79 Kensington Church Street