As single disciplines go, English clocks are among the London summer fairs’ strongest suits.
A critical mass of half a dozen leading
dealers at Masterpiece, all doing their utmost to make a
splash on this costly (but potentially cost-effective) stage, made
this year's event (June 26-July 3) the rival to any auction
catalogue and a powerful magnet to attract the core of the
horological collecting community, new collectors in the field and
the sort of high-level furnishers that the Masterpiece
brand seeks to provide.
Choice, the defining characteristic of 21st
century retailing, will see the market evolve - if traditionally
clock collectors were loyal to their chosen dealer, then here it is
hard not to have your head turned by blue-chip material from other
quarters - but there is undoubtedly strength in numbers.
Certainly the strong visual showing
translated into strong sales at this year's fair.
And discernible trends were those seen in
the market as a whole. Kensington Church Street dealer
Nigel Raffety neatly summed up the state of play,
describing "some new faces, a lot of interest in bracket clock and
precision clocks - but longcases are not quite flavour of the
The fashion is towards the small and the
portable, with larger pieces a little at odds with the modern
Viner Carriage Clock
Lewes-based dealer Anthony
Woodburn enjoyed an excellent fair, selling 15 pieces
(something almost every day) including an exceptional
month-duration, perpetual calendar carriage clock by Charles Edward
Viner of Regent Street for "several hundred thousand pounds".
Viner produced some of the finest English
travelling clocks ever to be made and this example c.1830 with a
twin-train fusee movement and duplex escapement strikes the
quarters on two gongs, the hours on a single gong and the alarm on
Longcases were, as a general rule, more
difficult but exceptions are made for precision technology by great
makers or golden age clocks.
Significant sales included an elegant 7ft
5in (2.25m) mahogany longcase clock c.1775 by one of the most
celebrated partnerships of the 18th century, Thomas Mudge and
William Dutton, and a 6ft 5in (1.96m) walnut and marquetry longcase
with an eight-day duration movement by Daniel Quare c.1695. Mr
Woodburn also sold one of Quare's famous patent portable barometers
- this early example in walnut on four cast brass folding feet
A longcase by Mudge and Dutton and a rare
bracket clock by Quare were among eight pieces sold at
Masterpiece by London specialist John
Two sales were to new clients. The Quare
c.1700 boasted a number of sophistications: in addition to a
three-train, quarter-striking movement the unusual dial layout
included four subsidiaries - for pendulum regulation and locking
Six of Carlton-Smith's sales were bracket
clocks (the other an unsigned miniature 17th century lantern clock
with alarm c.1690). In recent years the dealer has observed
increased interest in the work of the celebrated Knibb family and
here sold a table clock by Joseph Knibb c.1685 appealing for both
its small size and a walnut (rather than an ebonised) case.
Carter Wright, the
dealership in Stroud, Gloucestershire, also reported a great fair
and their sales included their star turn, a rare George Graham
regulator of c.1745 with a thermometer in the arch, one of only
three known examples.
William and Mary
With stands at the Olympia International
Art and Antiques Fair and then Masterpiece, and a new
gallery in the offing, Howard Walwyn - a former
director of Raffety & Walwyn but now trading on his own account
- was among the busier horology dealers this season. He described
Olympia as a worthwhile outing but Masterpiece had proved
the better event in terms of sales.
A new client had bought three pieces -
including a William and Mary marquetry longcase by Robert Seignior,
London - while a major sale via an agent was a miniature musical
silver-mounted tortoiseshell bracket clock by William Jourdain.
Dating from c.1780, it stood just 13½in (24cm) high and played a
choice of four tunes.
Following 12 months' trading at home and
from gallery space shared with Silverman on Campden Street, Howard
Walwyn Fine Antique Clocks will shortly be under their own roof at
123 Kensington Church Street.
They are staunch believers in the need for gallery space for
reasons of proper display and credibility with clients, and a
four-month revamp of the shop (formerly the Lucy B. Campbell
gallery) should be completed in time for opening in the autumn.