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
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.