This Charles II eight-day longcase clock by Joseph Knibb – a ‘snapshot’ of early longcase clock development – doubled its estimate to sell for £240,000 at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions sale in Donnington Priory.
The rare survivor is one of only four
documented longcase clocks from Knibb's time in Oxford (c.1662-70)
- all of them significantly different as the maker experimented
with a relatively new technology. The movement to this clock - with
bottle-shaped plates and six knopped, finned and latched pillars -
is similar to those made in the London workshops of Ahasuerus
Fromanteel, while the engraved dial decoration is known from clocks
by Edward East.
This apparently conservative approach
has led some horologists to consider this to be the earliest
surviving clock by Knibb, made c.1665-7 within just a decade or so
of the first pendulum clocks. At the time he was struggling to
trade in Oxford due to restrictions placed by the City authorities
which were only relaxed on payment of a fine in 1668.
The clock, its 6ft 3in (1.90m)
architectural case fashioned with ebonised fruitwood veneers and
mouldings onto a pine carcass, was making its first appearance on
the market for a century. It was purchased in Evesham,
Worcestershire, in 1894 by the great grandfather of the owner and
from the 1930s resided at Tower Hill Manor in Gomshall,
The vendor inherited it from his
grandmother's estate in 1972.
During that time it has been pictured
in a number of key reference works including The Knibb
Family, Clockmakers and The First Twelve Years of the English
Pendulum Clock (both by Ronald A. Lee) and Early
English Clocks by Dawson, Drover and Parkes.
There was a flurry of bidding up to
£130,000 (the estimate set at £80,000-120,000 for the sale on March
11) before two bidders fought it out in the room. The buyer was a
While clocks by the Knibb family have made
more - in July last year
Bonhams sold a table clock from the third quarter of the
17th century by Samuel Knibb (Joseph's cousin and mentor) for
£380,000 - the hammer price matches the record for any clock sold
by a UK provincial auctioneer. In August 2008, Isle of Wight firm
Island Auction Rooms took the same £240,000 sum for a
longcase combining a year-going striking movement by Daniel
Quare with a première-partie brass, pewter and tortoiseshell
The buyer's premium at Dreweatts &
Bloomsbury Auctions was 24/12%.
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