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Christmas time costs £340,000

04 January 2010Written by ATG Reporter

The demand for golden age English clocks has been on something of a high for several years now and shows little sign of abating.

Bonhams' pre-Christmas sale on December 15 posted a brace of strong results: an upper-estimate £240,000 for a Tompion quarter-repeating bracket clock numbered 440 and this Ahasuerus Fromanteel longcase at £340,000.

The Fromanteel, which has been in a private collection in the South of France, only recently returning to the UK, is a new addition to this maker's known oeuvre. Dating from c.1670 and contained in an ebony-veneered architectural case that is very much to current collecting tastes, it has a brass dial with finely detailed silver spandrels signed A Fromanteel Londini Fecit.

Internally there is a weight-driven movement now converted to anchor escapement. Inside the hood is the pencil inscription W Rogers Cook St L'pool July 1885, JW with a similar faint repetition to the back of the dial.

It is thought that J.W. at Rogers' workshop was responsible for the anchor escapement, but a spare hole in the front of the movement indicates the position of the pallet arbour for an original tic-tac escapement, the only known Fromanteel to begin life with one. Another rare survival is what appears to be the original bell, internally inscribed AF.

Bonhams described the clock as a "largely untouched example of the formative years of the English pendulum clock" and one of the few architectural longcases by Fromanteel to survive.

Original condition was doubtless a feature in pushing the price to well over double Bonhams' estimate.

The buyer's premium was 20/12 per cent.

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