At the heart of the exhibition is an eye-catching table clock by English clockmaker Daniel Quare (1648/49-1724).
Offered for £75,000, the clock is a robust recent rediscovery from the Continent. Made c.1706, it features pendulum regulation and pull quarter repeat. The backplate is elaborately engraved with scrolling foliage and a pair of flower cornucopias above a signature.
It is now the earliest recorded numbered table clock by the maker – no 27 – and almost identical to another example sold at Sotheby’s in 1968 for £4500, which was no 39.
Quare was one of the three main figures during the ‘golden age’ of English horology along with Thomas Tompion and Joseph Knibb.
His output was prodigious, but as a practising Quaker he would not sign any oaths of allegiance, preventing his appointment as clockmaker to the king. Nevertheless, he was a regular visitor at the palace and was ‘free of the back stairs’.
He cultivated many royal contacts in Europe and had such an extensive client list that he is known to have sold three different levels of clock.
At the top were those made in his workshops and finished to the highest specifications. Then there were his standard workshop clocks, well-finished but lacking in opulence and, at the lowest level, bought-in stock from other London makers.
With its high-quality case mount and dial layout, the piece in question is an example of Quare’s top level of clock.
It is one of more than 30 pieces on offer in the June catalogue. They may also be viewed at Wright’s Tetbury showroom where he set up in the 2000s.
Auctioneer to dealer
Wright – who many will know from his appearances on BBC Antiques Roadshow – was at Christie’s for 20 years before moving into dealing.
While he was there, he sold a number of clocks to a collector who began to assemble travelling clocks in the 1980s-90s. Many of these pieces – mostly 19th century carriage and mantel clocks
“They are unusual and good quality and they’ve got good names”, Wright says. “This is the first tranche from the collector who is thinning out his collection. He buys at the upper end of the market, but prices are surprisingly good.”
Among the highlights is a Breguet Neveu gilt-brass grande and petite sonnerie carriage clock with duplex escapement from c.1840 which is offered with a leather travelling box. It was purchased by a Count Montalvo in 1844. It is priced at £25,000.
Also on offer is a gilt-brass and enamel giant striking and repeating carriage clock signed to the backplate Breguet No 5125 and stamped DC for Drocourt and numbered 1632.
Many French enamelled clocks are made in the champleve style, but this is an example of the more complicated cloisonné process. It is available for £18,000.
All offerings are in working order. The interactive catalogue is available online.