Is this the finest clock to be sold in England this year? The Isle of Wight auctioneers who will offer it for sale next month believe it is. It will be offered for sale by Island Auction Rooms (formerly Shanklin Auction Rooms) at their annual antiques sale timed to coincide with the influx of boating enthusiasts for Cowes Week on August 7.
The remarkable longcase from the Golden Age of English clockmaking combines a year-going striking movement by the celebrated maker Daniel Quare (c.1647-1724) with a 7ft 9in (2.38m) high premi?re partie brass, pewter and tortoiseshell boulle case inlaid with Berainesque designs.
The estimate is £150,000-250,000.
English boulle marquetry longcases are very rare and this is one of only a handful known to have been made to house clocks by Quare.
It is unknown whether or not the cases were produced in London by French craftsmen or if they were made to order on the continent. Both hypotheses are possible.
The case, that is unusually lined with 18th century block printed wallpaper, is an unmistakably English form c.1700-1710. Other examples also survive that are more continental in appearance.
A pair of longcase clocks survive by Quare c.1698 that were the property of the Austrian noble Ferdinand Bonaventura Count Harrach (1637-1706). The premi?re-partie clock with its waisted trunk is still in the Harrach art collection; the other in contre-partie is with the German dealer Peter MŸhlbauer.
There is also a record of another similar clock in the Hofburg, Vienna.
Sotheby's did sell a William III month-going longcase by Quare in a contre-partie boulle case for $75,000 as part of the collection of clocks formed by Justice Warren Shepro and sold in New York in April 2001. It had been seen in the same rooms in 1983.
This Isle of Wight clock - thought to be Quare's only year-going striking movement - was last sold by Winchester dealer G.H. Bell (now Gerald E. Marsh Antique Clocks) in the early 1970s.
Gerald Marsh told ATG he had negotiated the sale of the clock to The Time Museum in Chicago (a collection since dispersed by Sotheby's New York) but it fell through when an export licence was refused on the grounds that the clock was too important to leave the country. A sale was subsequently agreed with a clock connoisseur from the Isle of Wight whose family are now offering it for sale.
Interestingly it has appeared at auction before. The late owner tried to sell it through Christie's in October 1987 but, at a difficult time for the clock trade, it failed to make its reserve (it was bid to £78,000). It has recently undergone a professional clean at Gerald E. Marsh.
Island Auction Rooms are currently in the process of taking detailed images of both the case and the movement. For insurance purposes these are being kept in separate locations.
Tennants of Leyburn hold the record for the most expensive clock sold in a UK provincial room - a burr walnut longcase c.1740 by George Graham sold in July 2006 for £135,000.
By Roland Arkell