Charles I lantern clock attributed to William Bowyer with an ownership signature for Claudius Malbranck of London, £18,000 at Dreweatts.

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The highlight of the latest horology sale at Dreweatts (26/25/20/12.5% buyer’s premium) was a large Charles I brass ‘First Period’ lantern clock attributed to the celebrated London maker William Bowyer.

Although the dial is signed for Claudius Malbranck of London, he was most likely the original owner.

Perhaps the most obvious single piece of evidence to support attribution to Bowyer is the fret design. Although outwardly similar to others used on smaller clocks, they match the castings used on a clock made by Bowyer in 1632 for the Brewers’ Company.


A detail of the Charles I lantern clock attributed to William Bowyer that made £18,000 at Dreweatts.

The frame castings, the dial engraving and some idiosyncrasies of the movement (including the ‘hump’ cast into an arm to allow for the locking detent arbor pivots) also support the attribution.

The clock was particularly notable as it had survived in largely original untouched condition. At some point the original verge escapement and balance had been substituted for an anchor escapement regulated by a seconds pendulum and the winding converted to Huygens’ design with an endless chain.

Otherwise, said Dreweatts specialist Leighton Gillibrand, “the clock is very much the same as when it would have left the workshop of William Bowyer but with light wear and the build-up of patination resulting in very pleasing mellow colouring that can only come with age”.

It was estimated at £18,000- 25,000 at the auction on February 27 and got away at the lower guide.

Apprentice to Tompion


George II gilt brass mounted walnut bracket clock by William Webster, £6500 at Dreweatts.

Sold at £6500 (estimate £4000-6000) was a fine George II gilt brass mounted walnut bracket clock by William Webster, an apprentice to Thomas Tompion who gained his freedom of the Clockmakers’ Company in 1710. While he initially worked as a journeyman to Tompion, by 1711 he was working on his own from the Dial and Three Crowns in Exchange Alley.

This clock from c.1730 features a pull-quarter repeat on six bells, a design also used in clocks by Daniel Delander, Simon DeCharmes, John Purden and John Pyke. The case is notable both in the selection of the figured walnut veneers and the quality of the engraved gilt brass frets.

Among the most eagerly contested lots of the day was a George III mahogany fusee dial timepiece with a 14in (35cm) single-sheet silvered brass dial signed for Robert Best, London. After gaining his freedom in 1783, he was declared bankrupt in 1796 but continued to work until at least 1828 when he was based in Knightrider Street.

This clock, with subsidiary seconds and calendar dial, probably dated to c.1800. Complete and in working condition, it was in very honest original condition although required cleaning and refreshing.

An attraction to some bidders would have been the former owner: it was previously part of the collection of William Keith Neal, perhaps the greatest antique firearms collector of the 20th century, who lived at Bishopstrow House, Warminster. It was guided at £1000-1500 and made £4200.

Giant steps forward

Another relative strength of the market are the precision carriage clocks made by London makers in the second half of the 19th century.

This offering included a group of the ‘giant’ models in 8in (20cm) high cases.


Victorian giant chronometer carriage clock by Edward White, £11,000 at Dreweatts.

Dating to c.1875 was a fine chronometer carriage clock by Edward White who operated from premises at 20 Cockspur Street, Pall Mall, from 1861-90. He was a former workman for Dent and an essentially identical timepiece is illustrated in Derek Roberts’ Carriage and Other Travelling Clockswhere the author suggests “it would seem more than a little likely that they were made by the same hand”.

This clock - in its original tooled leather travelling case - was bought from Garrards, London, in 1996, sold at Christie’s in December 2006 for £12,000 and later purchased by the vendor from dealer Anthony Woodburn.

It was estimated here at £12,000- 18,000 and got away at £11,000.


Victorian giant carriage clock with push-button repeat by John Carter, £8000 at Dreweatts.

A similar giant format carriage clock with push-button repeat, c.1860, was made by John Carter (1803-78).

Three times master of the Clockmakers Company, he submitted many chronometers for the trials at Greenwich, coming first in 1834 with chronometer number 144, and again in 1835 with watch number 160.

The carriage clock also fell a little short of estimate at £8000.