The Tennants (20% buyer’s premium) Spring Fine Art sale in Leyburn on March 21 beat the Covid-19 restrictions by a matter of hours. The sale went ahead as planned but with only a handful of people in the room.
Remarkably, every clock in the sale sold – an unusual occurrence at any circumstances.
They included a William and Mary longcase by celebrated London maker Daniel Quare (1647-1724). In a walnut marquetry case of good colour and patina, c.1690, it housed a six-pillar latched movement with the bolt and shutter maintaining power that allows the clock to keep going while it is being wound.
A good name is no longer enough to sell a longcase clock but this decent example, purchased by the vendor from the St James’s clock dealer John Carlton Smith, went comfortably within hopes at £18,000.
Perhaps more to current collecting taste was a humbler early-18th century regional 30-hour wall clock sold at £1700 (estimate £300-500) to a buyer on thesaleroom.com.
Its distinctive feature was an 11in (27cm) square brass dial engraved with the verse Remember be man that Dye thou mut And After that to Judgement Just.
It carried the name of John Sanderson, a Quaker born at Tiffenthwaite near Wigton in Cumbria in 1671, who completed his apprenticeship under John Ogden of Bowbridge in Yorkshire before returning to his village. Dials with religious verses are among the quirky characteristics of his wares.
Two days later the UK was in lockdown – so the sale conducted by Hutchinson Scott (24% buyer’s premium) in Skipton on March 25-28 was held behind closed doors.
Clocks again led proceedings with the £16,800 sale of a George III ‘Turkish market’ tortoiseshell and ormolu musical table clock signed to the 4in (10cm) dial Markwick Markham Perigal, London.
When this clock was made, c.1760, the firm began by James Markwick Jnr and his son-in-law Robert Markham had effectively closed but the name was reused by later makers keen to tap into the lucrative Ottoman trade.
Some half-a-dozen London makers from the second half of the 18th century enjoyed this association with the Markwick Markham brand, among them the Bond Street ‘Watchmaker to the King’ Francis Perigal.
This clock, measuring 15in (38cm) high from foot to finial, is further signed to the backplate John Barbot London, probably for the London workshop (active c.1751-65) responsible for some of the most fanciful and expensive luxury goods made for export to the Ottoman Empire, China and India.
The hammer price was comfortably within the estimate of £15,000-20,000.
Sold at £7200 (estimate £2000-3000) was a 2ft 1in (62cm) Victorian brass skeleton clock modelled as Westminster Abbey.
Although signed only by the retailer A Everington of Nottingham, it has many similarities to the work of skeleton clock specialist WF Evans of Handsworth, the Birmingham firm specialising in skeleton clocks modelled on Victorian monuments and ecclesiastical buildings.
Examples such as this, with three-train, eight-bell, quarter-chiming movements, were close to the top of the range.