It was topped at £15,000 by a George III ormolu and pearwood musical and automaton bracket clock by John Stephen Rimbault (fl.1744-85).
Of Huguenot descent and based at Great Andrew Street, St Giles, Rimbault was well-known for these ‘12-tuned Dutchmen’, clocks powered by substantial three-train chain fusée movements.
Rimbault clocks from the period c.1760-63 offer the tantalising possibility that they could include the hand of one of the greats of late 18th century British art: he also famously employed the painter Johann Zoffany (1733-1810) as a dial painter when the German first arrived in London c.1760.
The painted automata scene on this clock dated to c.1763, showing a blacksmith’s shop with three farriers at work, is quite possibly by Zoffany. Another virtually identical clock with automaton was sold at Christie’s in November 2014, for £13,000.
Another clock with real ‘dial appeal’ in the Wisborough Green sale on May 10-13 was an Edwardian longcase by S Smith & Son of Clerkenwell.
Technically it was outstanding, powered by a heavy three-train movement chiming on a carillon of eight bells, with maintaining power and beat regulation, and also included a barometer and thermometer. Unusually the dial, with its five subsidiaries was fashioned in Wedgwood blue and white jasperware.
There are not many of these around. It had been estimated to sell for £1000-2000 but bidding went up to £6500.
Early 19th century ‘five-glass’ mantel clocks are among the most commercial of all Georgian timekeepers.
The example sold by Golding Young & Mawer (24% buyer’s premium) in Lincoln on May 18 carried the magical name of Vulliamy.
Housed in an 8in (20cm) rosewood case (with several cracks that will need attention), it had a double fusee movement striking on the hour. Signed and marked London 1017, it dated from c.1830 when the firm was run by Benjamin Lewis Vulliamy (fl.1810-54).
Estimated at £2000-3000, the sort of guide that attracts multiple suitors, it sold at £15,500.
The Clocks & Instruments auction at McTear’s (24% buyer’s premium) in Glasgow on April 28 included, estimated at £3000-5000, a good Westminster Abbey skeleton clock, c.1880, by Swinden & Son of Birmingham.
Standing 2ft 1in (62cm) high, it had a three-train, triple fusee-driven movement with a quarter-striking repeater mechanism sounding on eight bells.
Many of these were given as presentation pieces and this one was set with a silver plaque inscribed Presented to George Clark Esquire by his Employees Home Department in recognition of his untiring energy and as a mark of their esteem and regard for him as their Employer, along with a Gold Albert for Mrs Clark, 83 Titchfield Street, Kilmarnock, 31 Dec 1880.
It sold above the £3000-5000 guide at £7000 on thesaleroom.com.
A couple of weeks earlier on April 7 the Glasgow firm had taken £10,000 for a Grana Ministry of Defence wristwatch – the hardest to find of the so-called ‘Dirty Dozen’ watches. They were ordered by the British Ministry of Defence during the tail-end of the Second World War for issue to army ground personnel.
The acronym WWW to the case back stood for ‘Watch, Wrist, Waterproof’.
Twelve different brands were commissioned to make the watches in c.1945: Buren, Cyma, Eterna, Grana, International Watch Co, Jaeger-Le- Coultre, Lemania, Longines, Omega, Record, Timor and Vertex.
The Grana is considered the rarest with perhaps as few as 1500 made by this otherwise routine maker. By comparison Omega produced the most ‘Dirty Dozen’ watches, around 25,000.
Prior to 2015, prices between £3000-5000 were typical for a Grana depending on condition. This changed in May 2018 when Trevanion & Dean sold one for £9000 followed by another at Sheffield Auction Gallery in October 2019 for £12,000. In October 2020 Thomas Miller in Newcastle-upon-Tyne sold one for £18,000.
Another Grana sold at its low estimate of £12,000 at Lincolnshire saleroom John Taylors (15% buyer’s premium) on April 12.