George Muston, Small St, Bristol 10" drop dial

novicetimekeeper

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Just bought this in a Bristol auction. (pics with permission) Bristol signed clock in Bristol auction so not the World's greatest bargain but still it was ok.

It is an early style of iron dial with the dial mounted on the mahogany surround with dial feet and the movement on a falseplate screwed direct to the back of the surround.

Even for this style it is unusual, probably because it is small, so that the dial feet can't be seen without removing the surround from the back box. On a larger clock you would see them without removing the backbox which would usually be screwed to the surround under the dial.

It is a bit of a transition approach.

The movement has an unexplained post on one of the pillars but doesn't seem too bad. The pendulum has lost the suspension and the case has been a bit bodged but that is all fixable.

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novicetimekeeper

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He is listed in my books as Chronometer maker 1832, and again 1840-42.

This from an 1851 directory

Muston & Gath, chronometer makers to the honourable Board of Admiralty, manufacturers of church, turret, and house clocks and watches of every description, 1 Small street, and 18 Red Lion street, Clerkenwell,

Loomes lists one in London too so perhaps the partnership started after the operation in London.
 

Chris Radano

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That's a very nice original clock, that appears to have been well cared for by it's previous owners. I didn't see it has tapered wheel arbors. I don't have any winding cranks for my fusees. My wrists are strong from their weekly winding exercise.
On this side of the Atlantic, dial clocks and drop dials made before 1850 are scarce. Also the smaller dial sizes, i.e. 10", are considered desirable.
I know you have grown particularly fond of dial clocks. They have an added advantage of being mostly time only, which lends itself well to having a multi-clock household (also a house with a partner).
 
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novicetimekeeper

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Yes, I have got to like dial clocks, and particularly the smaller ones and the earlier ones, this is a bit of both. Still looking for a passing strike and would like another wooden dial and another silvered dial.

This is my first proper drop dial, the smaller ones hardly count as they don't have extended pendulums they just have limited space for a standard movement.
 

novicetimekeeper

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George Muston was submitting Chronometers to the Royal Observatory in 1835

 

daveR

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I take it from your description , this is (another)small one, 8 or 10" You must be running out of above -door space by now. I don't hold it against you at all, they are nice clocks.It is also niceto see the crank with the wooden tu.rned hand piece
Were, are there ,in general, more small dials at any particular period, eg earlier in the 19th century, or have they always been spread more or less evenly across the whole period along with the standard 12"
David
 

novicetimekeeper

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Yes it is a 10" and I guess it is an 1830s clock though could be earlier.

Dial clocks were a development from cartel clocks, so the standard size originally was smaller than 12" but that soon became the standard as anchor escapement took over. Drop dials became a thing with anchor too, which could take the longer pendulum.

There have always been smaller clocks as far as I can see, particularly 10".

The smallest original early dial clock I have seen for sale was an 8" dial, that was a silvered dial with concave bezel that was made local to me and sold for £4800 late last year. That was probably 1780s.


I have 10" clocks now in wooden dial, silvered dial and convex iron dial, from 1790s to 1870s.

My smaller clocks in 8" I have are all a bit later, in flat and convex iron dials from 1820s to 1880s.

I think most of the smaller clocks are the later ones, but then most of the clocks you see for sale are the later ones. Fusee dial clocks were made in the UK for a period of around 200 years but peak production must have been in the second half of that. Expanding rapidly with the growth of the railways and changes to working practices, more offices and factories.
 

daveR

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Thanks for that, Nick. I have 4 dial clocks But no 8"yet. But it was a dialclock that was my first real clock that set me on the way of clock collecting and repair! There will be more I know, space and budget permitting.
David
 

novicetimekeeper

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Thanks for that, Nick. I have 4 dial clocks But no 8"yet. But it was a dialclock that was my first real clock that set me on the way of clock collecting and repair! There will be more I know, space and budget permitting.
David
They are popular here, easy to live with I suppose and fit with modern house decor. The prices rise with age and also smaller size and then the quality of case and signature can make a difference too.

I only got into them through the chap who restores most of my clocks, they were his first love in clocks and how he got into the business having trained as a toolmaker. My first love in clocks is still longcase but I don't have room for any more.
 

P.Hageman

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Nick, congratulations on this nice clock again. It looks untouched for many years, thats what we all like the most. I just wonder if those carvings below the dial surround are partially cut away, because as far as I know, they run all the way up to the dial surround. (see picture) One side could be damaged and they cut away the other side as well to have it balanced again? If so, I think I would take them both away.

ears.jpg
 

Chris Radano

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I just wonder if those carvings below the dial surround are partially cut away
They could very well have been cut away, but looking at the pictures side carvings have a finish on them so without looking in person I would think the clock has been that way since construction. The side carvings do appear unusual. Perhaps the standard size side fan carvings were available for 12" dial size, and so were reduced to fit 10"?
 

P.Hageman

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Chris, I think you are right in that the have a certain old finish on them, but it could have happened many years ago. I know from personal experience thos ears can be damaged quite easely. But then agin, it could be original, another feature I never seen before :)
 

novicetimekeeper

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I'm not a huge ear fan, and have never gone for drop dials, it will be interesting to see what these are in detail, I agree they don't look the usual way. It will be a long time before it gets to the cabinet maker. I considered having it dropped off there but would like to see it first.
 

Chris Radano

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I don't know. But with English clocks the cases are usually not ornate, and a lot of emphasis is on size and proportion. So if the ears were for a 12" dial, then they quite possibly were cut down.
I considered having it dropped off there but would like to see it first.
If the clock has been that way for a considerable period of time, I would consider it proper to leave it. Also consider, the clock was very much in demand at the auction. So other people's opinion on the clock was similar to yours, reflected in the price. I think it's one of the more original clocks you've posted.
 

novicetimekeeper

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Unless they show signs of breakage my intention would be to leave it
 

novicetimekeeper

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Until these comments I had not realised they were actually a portion of a larger carving design, I'd just thought of them as droopy ears!
 

jmclaugh

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A lovely drop dial I'd happily find room for. Crank handles are easier for winding.

When I bought my copy of English Dial Clocks it came with a November 5 1998 press cutting inside from the Eastern Daily Press which had a brief article on a mahogany 6" dial clock dated to around 1830 by Field of Aylesbury that sold locally at auction for £6,000.
 

novicetimekeeper

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Peter, the restorer, hates crank handles for spring clocks, he says the cause uneven loads and prefers the standard key. I rather like it when a clock turns up with an original crank, these short arm ones are a bit special.


I've only ever seen a couple of 6", both had offset winding arbours, difficult to fit it all in I imagine.
 

novicetimekeeper

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Back to Muston. I just looked at that David Penny link again. I wonder if his brother is how George got to be listed in Clerkenwell? Both are listed as Clerkenwell, one a case maker, one a chronometer maker, and later Muston & Gath.

Perhaps they all shared the same premises in Clerkenwell, at least in name even if George stayed in Bristol.

I don't know the address in Clerkenwell but it was heavily bombed. Sadly so was Bristol and his premises at 1 Small St seem to have gone.
 

jmclaugh

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I've only ever seen a couple of 6", both had offset winding arbours, difficult to fit it all in I imagine.
The 6" one I mentioned has the winding arbor directly below the hands.

George Muston is listed as born Clevendon, Somerset working Small St. Bristol 1840-6 then became Muston & Gath Bristol 1846-56 chronometer makers, he died 1858. A Charles Muston is listed as a watch case maker London 1829-39, another Charles Muston is listed London 1851-63 successor to George Muston. There is also a William Muston listed in Bristol 1818-20. No details as to any relation between them.
 

novicetimekeeper

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Yes, I think the listings are wrong, I think he was working in Bristol before 1840, after all he was submitting chronometers in his own name in 1835
 

novicetimekeeper

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Edward Jones, watch and Chronometer maker, listed as trading at 1 Small Street in 1830 Pigot's gloucestershire directory.

Perhaps Muston was an apprentice to Jones or was working elsewhere in the city and took over when Jones died? I don't know when he died but Muston was already there in 1835.

 

novicetimekeeper

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Bellchambers has Jones as 1818-1830, so long enough to have an apprentice, presumably Muston started there in his own name in 1830.
 

jmclaugh

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I don't think the dates in Loomes etc can necesarily be taken as definitive that a maker was only working there during that period.
 

gmorse

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Hi Nick,

Edward Jones, watch and Chronometer maker, listed as trading at 1 Small Street in 1830 Pigot's gloucestershire directory.
I have an 1825 Massey type V pocket watch signed for Jones at this address, and the building is still there, at least it looks as though it could have been there in the 1820s.

Regards,

Graham
 

gmorse

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Hi Nick,

I have an 1825 Massey type V pocket watch signed for Jones at this address, and the building is still there, at least it looks as though it could have been there in the 1820s.
I forgot to mention that the case on this watch was made by Charles Muston, so that does suggest a link between Charles and George.

A Charles Muston is listed as a watch case maker London 1829-39,
Priestley lists his registration in London on 6th February 1816.

Regards,

Graham
 

novicetimekeeper

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That's all very interesting Graham, showing a link between the two families. My guess is George worked for Jones even if he didn't have him as his master because employees often took over the business. I believe Jones dies in 1830, the earliest I have been able to place George in Small street so far is 1832.

Small street in the 17th century was one of the best streets in Bristol apparently with several fine houses.

I tried street view to identify 1 Small street but could not work it out.
 

novicetimekeeper

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I have looked for, but not found, any apprentice details for Muston or Edwards, not found any.

I did find another Edward Jones though, made longcases up to 46 but I think that must be somebody else.
 

D.th.munroe

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Thomas Mercer has a listing for
George Muston small st, Bristol, 18 Red St, WC,
1835-1883 Kessel movements, born in Cleveland, Somerset. Worked with his brother. Friends of Kessels of Altona, who died whilst on a visit to their home in Yatton.
I'll leave out the rest numbers and that but it says "see
Thomas Gowland"
Under Gowland
Movement made by Muston (no. 952)
Secreted under the dial of no.952 is written "This chronometer was made by Muston who died '49 (1849) in Cleveland Bristol by cholera, cleaned by his pupil '89 (1889).

No idea who the pupil was

Dan
 

novicetimekeeper

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Thomas Mercer has a listing for
George Muston small st, Bristol, 18 Red St, WC,
1835-1883 Kessel movements, born in Cleveland, Somerset. Worked with his brother. Friends of Kessels of Altona, who died whilst on a visit to their home in Yatton.
I'll leave out the rest numbers and that but it says "see
Thomas Gowland"
Under Gowland
Movement made by Muston (no. 952)
Secreted under the dial of no.952 is written "This chronometer was made by Muston who died '49 (1849) in Cleveland Bristol by cholera, cleaned by his pupil '89 (1889).

No idea who the pupil was

Dan
Thank you so much. I had seen a comment about Kessel in Bellchambers but could not find any more about it. The entries I found for Kew were 1835 but I have him in small street in 32 and I think Jones died in 1830.
 

jmclaugh

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I hadn't looked but Britten has an entry for Muston & Gath, Bristol 1790, Geo., Red Lion St. Clerkenwell 1835-42.
 

novicetimekeeper

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1790?
The 1835 doesn't fit with my other dates, the partnership came later than that I think.
 

novicetimekeeper

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Going back up the thread the poor chap seems to have died twice too, in 49 and again in 58! It does get in a bit of muddle doesn't it?
 

novicetimekeeper

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Well it has arrived, it is a charming little clock. The dial is far more crazed than it appears in the pics but I will leave it as it is as it is perfectly legible. Apart from the filling of the bottom door lock and keyhole which was obvious from the original pictures there is nothing worrying about this clock at all that I can see.

There were some questions raised about odd screws visible in the front plate but they are cocks for the motion work.

The ears I am sure are as they were originally, there is no evidence of them being cut down following one breaking.
 

novicetimekeeper

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Whoever worked on the case I'm not impressed. They harvested veneer from under the surround and then did an awful job of putting it on the case.


One issue from the auction house pics was the winding arbour not being centred in the hole in the dial.

I can't see any obvious reason for this but also I can't see any evidence of anything wrong or not original. This method of fitting the movement to a falseplate at the back of the surround means you need a long winding arbour like on a wooden dial clock. Either something has moved with the shrinking of the wood, or the arbour is a bit bent. This could be encouraged by the use of a crank arm for winding which came with the clock.

received_436962597640391.jpeg 20210224_102815.jpg 20210224_102826.jpg 20210224_102803.jpg
 

Chris Radano

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You just don't know what you'll find with clocks from auctions. Looks like your case had some veneer chips at the lower corners, which is a typical location of wear and tear. But someone's solution was not very nice. No problem for you and the restorers you know to replace some veneer. And you can likely correct the winding arbor with a good look. I'm glad overall you seem happy with your clock. There were flocks of people watching it at the auction so no doubt this clock was in demand.
 

novicetimekeeper

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I have not taken the hands off yet, but I see now I did not post all the pics so will go and find them
 

novicetimekeeper

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I will take the hands off but I don't want to disturb the dial, seems to have nuts on the dial feet and they have not been off in a very long time.
 

P.Hageman

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Nick, thanks for showing us. Thats a very interesting way of fastening the falseplate to the surround. As far as I can see it looks original. To be more sure, you could take off the false plate from the surround, but then you first have to take of the dial offcourse. I can understand you hesitate to do, because the damage you can do to the dial. A very nice and interesting clock. which will become a beauty after you have it had restored!
 

novicetimekeeper

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Nick, thanks for showing us. Thats a very interesting way of fastening the falseplate to the surround. As far as I can see it looks original. To be more sure, you could take off the false plate from the surround, but then you first have to take of the dial offcourse. I can understand you hesitate to do, because the damage you can do to the dial. A very nice and interesting clock. which will become a beauty after you have it had restored!
It is just like a wooden dial one in the way the falsplate is used. The difference is pinning the iron dial to the surround or in this case using nuts. A wooden dial is either separate and screwed through the surround or is painted direct on the surround I have both types here with the Ellicot and the Bishop.

As the movement isn't fitted to the dial it needs a falseplate on the back of the surround and then a long wiring arbour and motion work.
 
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Chris Radano

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Wow, I hadn't seen a dial surround like that before. Your clock is earlier than I thought. :emoji_muscle: :thumb:
Also the movement is a very nice and robust "A" frame. For years I wanted a clock with an "A" frame. It took years but now I have a few.
My Robert Wood dial had actually sagged from years of gravity pulling down on the screwed dial feet. The dial had to be straightened.
Check the feet on the false plate to assure they are not loose or bent, that may be the answer to your off center winding arbor.
 
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