John Knibb, Oxon, real or make believe?

Discussion in 'General Clock Discussions' started by novicetimekeeper, Jun 5, 2017.

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  1. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    #1 novicetimekeeper, Jun 5, 2017
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 5, 2017
    Well I bought it for a make believe price, but I'm leaning towards real.

    John Knibb was Joseph's brother. He worked for Joseph and stayed in Oxford when Joseph moved to London.

    He made some very fine clocks, but most of his output was more humble to suit his clientele in rural Oxfordshire. It's thought that when his brother returned Joseph may have made posted frame thirty hours for him to sell under his own name.

    Now here's the thing. Knibb posted frames have a distinctive design. The iron posts are riveted to the top plate but the bottom plate is secured by nuts on the threads on the bottom of the posts. The clock then stands on these threads as feet, a bit like the spikes used by Delaunce and Monk.

    This movement has that design. The chapter ring reminiscent of a 17th century London clock. The signature in the position of a 17th century clock

    However those spandrels, what to make of those? They appear in C&W but slightly different. They are rarely seen and hard to date, but no suggestion they are as early as 17th century.

    The hand is sublime, and I would have bought the clock just for that.

    you will have to wait a bit for pics as I can't upload them from here, but please look later, it is a puzzle.
     
  2. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    #2 novicetimekeeper, Jun 5, 2017
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 5, 2017
  3. Ralph

    Ralph Registered User
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    #3 Ralph, Jun 5, 2017
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    Nick, you might ask the moderator to correct the spelling in the subject line.... assuming it's not what you intended.

    Ralph
     
  4. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    #4 novicetimekeeper, Jun 5, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2017
    ooerr, no that's not right at all. If they had it spelled like that I would have been more suspicious.

    Edit >Thanks Harold
     
  5. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    #5 novicetimekeeper, Jun 5, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2017
    Pictures then, thank you for your patience. One thing to note is the size of the movement, square plates which though not unique to Knibb was how he made them.

    306873.jpg 306874.jpg 306875.jpg 306876.jpg 306877.jpg 306878.jpg

    306886.jpg
     

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  6. Jim DuBois

    Jim DuBois Registered User
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    Only ever had one signed Knibb in for restoration, had to make a count wheel for it. IIRC it was a lot like the one you show....I remember the nuts on the bottoms of the posts but little else and I don't have any photos of it today, if I ever did. Off hand it looks like you may have won the lottery....
     
  7. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    The auctioneer didn't believe it could be right so put a very low estimate on it and that was reflected in the sale price.

    I can't explain the spandrels, except that I've seen Knibbs with spandrels that you don't see anywhere else.

    Whatever it is I love the hand.
     
  8. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    I've only seen that click design once before, it seems more expensive to make than the standard flat spring click. Rather kinder to the wheels I imagine.
     
  9. zedric

    zedric Registered User

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    There is a wall clock by John Knibb illustrated in Time and Place, English country clocks 1600-1840. It has turned pillars which are quite substantial, and quite different to your clock. It could be a good point of comparison.
     
  10. gleber

    gleber Registered User

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    That's quite a find Nick. Hopefully it is authentic. I don't quite follow what you mean about the click design. Can you elaborate?

    Tom
     
  11. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    Turned pillars are from Lantern clock days and I have seen Knibbs that use them but they are earlier. John Knibb was already using rectangular posts like these by the 1690s.

    Round posts continued in the West Country well into the 18th century, I have a couple of later clocks with them but the posts are thin compared to the 17th century ones.
     
  12. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    There are three types of click used on English 30 hours. The most common is a flat round washer with a step on it. The washer is riveted to the side of the chain/rope wheel. Around half of the washer, the bit with the step, sticks up and runs on the crossing out of the great wheel. The step forms the ratchet. The springs are very strong and cause significant wear.

    A later type, often seen on chain conversions but also used from new is a sprung brass toggle that runs against the crossing out. That causes less wear.

    This type I have only seen twice, it looks more like a click from an 8 day clock great wheel. It is similar to the one shown in Huygens drawing of his continuous drive, I've seen an early one in the book English 30 hour clocks (Darken and Hooper) but that had a tiny little toothed wheel like a wolf tooth pinion, That was by Richard How of Dorchester just down the road from here.

    This style I saw recently in a turkish market hook and spiuke signed by Clarke but said by Gardiner and Houlgate to be a repro, though I think made from old parts. On that clock the wheel had been fitted with the flat washer but had the teeth like this. On this one you can see the pawl and the brass spring.

    Here is a link to Cousins page for conversion kits that shows both the other types

    https://www.cousinsuk.com/product/conversion-chain-kits-long-case
     
  13. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    I think when I say turned it is wrong with regard to early round posts. I imagine the early ones were probably cast, the later skinny ones are turned.

    I don't know this, someone with more experience of lantern clocks could say. Pillars on plated longcase always seem to be turned rather than cast, I've never noticed a casting fault on a pillar, but I have seen casting faults and witness marks on posts.

    It's probably both, as the bar stock for the pillars was probably cast in the first place.
     
  14. jmclaugh

    jmclaugh Registered User

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    Very interesting and I'd have bought it too, what was the auctioneers' reasoning for not thinking it was right?

    If you haven't have a look at page 127 of Loomes' Brass Dial Clocks which has a very similar dial signed John Knibb Oxon in the same place though the lettering style is a little more elaborate, it has different spandrels and slightly different half hour markers but the lovely hand is virtually identical. Which C&W pattern are you saying it is Nick as I can't match the ones on your clock to any? They are also not shown in Brass Dial Clocks. Page 138 shows the movement which is again very similar and has ratchet clickwork like an eight day clock, it has rope drive. Page 139 shows the case.
     
  15. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    I think the auctioneer just assumed it was fake so that nobody could come back at him. I spoke to him about it and he said he wasn't a clock man. I started with the assumption it was fake and priced my bid accordingly but the more I looked the more I found things that worked.

    I had not found the clicks, will look at that, thanks.

    I've seen that style of hand called an Oxford hand, and at the very least I think this is an Oxford clock. The method of construction for the frame seems very Knibb, but there may have been others locally who adopted it.

    The spandrels, from memory, are number 22. They are not identical to the C&W picture which isn't very clear. If you have the book country grandfather clocks (I think) they are mentioned in there. Is that by Barder? He says he has only seen them three times his drawing is closer but not identical. I have seen two Knibb clocks with spandrels I've never seen before anywhere else. I think they got creative on spandrels.

    I'll look at the case you mention with interest, I have a spare this can have but no idea what it might have had originally. Being provincial I assume just oak. It's an 11 dial so I assume longcase not hooded dial.

    If this is Knibb, and I don't think anybody will ever know, I think it is for a fairly low budget customer, though it would still represent a couple of years pay for an average worker. I'm looking forward to seeing it. I have told the auctioneer to throw the weight away and dismantle the pendulum disposing of the rod. None of that is original to the clock and it just increases the risk mailboxes will mess up and damage the movement or dial in shipping.

    There are some questions on construction that can only be explored further when I get my hands on it. That will be in a couple of weeks. I'll take it to a BHI meet after that and see if anybody there can add anything. It's a bit low brow for most people so 30 hours can slip under the radar.
     
  16. jmclaugh

    jmclaugh Registered User

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    The dial I mentioned in Brass Dial Clocks is also 11" and the case is ebonised oak which apparently was a favourite on Knibb cases as they thought it showed off the dial better.

    I have Barder's book and the spandrel patterns in it are based on C&W, the illustrations aren't imo quite as good as C&W though the text is more detailed, the spandrel illustrations in Brass Dial Clocks are relatively poor. Anyway I checked all my sources for spandrel patterns and they aren't in any but that's not the first time that's happened. I look forward to an update when it arrives with you, hopefully in good order.
     
  17. DeanT

    DeanT Registered User

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    I really like the clock especially the hand. I can't see anything obviously wrong with it and given Knibb used that style of frame I am happy to assume its an original Knibb unless someone can prove otherwise. Once you get it and have a better look you might be able to tell more.

    For what you paid its one of the best bargain I have seen. Well played.....
     
  18. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    I think you may have a similar bargain if not better with your recent win but yes I think it was a fraction of what it might achieve in a different auction.

    I don't think I'll be parting with it, really looking forward to seeing it properly, they haven't even sent the invoice yet.
     
  19. Ralph

    Ralph Registered User
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  20. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    they look like the ones, they are fitted from the front as far as I can see. The spandrels have caused me much confusion, I am hoping that the dialplate may hold some clues.

    What did you think of the rest of the movement/dial/hand?
     
  21. Jim DuBois

    Jim DuBois Registered User
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    I tend not to put any faith in the spandrels of brass dial clocks. They are too easy to change, many more sets of spandrels have been cast over the last 400+ years than there ever were clocks. And as fashions change so do parts of clocks, like spandrels, and finials, and frets, and locks, and in some cases even brass work, and hinges. I don't care for these on this clock, they just don't look "right" nor do they fit like many are fit, much closer to the chapter ring.

    I like everything else I can see in the photos other than the spandrels.....
     
  22. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    yes, I go along with that, particularly in the not liking them stakes.

    The design seems much later than I would expect, if you remove them from the picture we seem to be looking at an early clock..

    The hand, 1690s
    The chapter ring 1690s
    The squared plates
    Some domed collets, some squared arbour
    The click
    The part rivet part thread posts
    The heavy fly
    The embellishment of the wheels
     
  23. Ralph

    Ralph Registered User
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    Nick, The hand looks great. So does the rest of the movement. As you pointed out, it has some nice embellishments.

    Ralph
     
  24. zedric

    zedric Registered User

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    If you have access to Darken and Hooper, there is a very similar Joseph Knibb clock shown on P102
     
  25. jmclaugh

    jmclaugh Registered User

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    Spandrels on earlier clock were smaller and they don't fit close up to the chapter ring so I wouldn't write them off as being definitely wrong but when it arrives Nick will get a chance to inspect them closely. I'm sure he's excited about getting it, I would be.
     
  26. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    yes, that and others show the things that give the movement more credence. It is a square plate movement with iron posts riveted art the top and threaded at the bottom.

    There is some suggestion that though signed Joseph it may have been made by John too.

    The hand adds to it from other Knibb clocks.

    The dialplate, well not so sure, I need to get the chapter ring off to look at the matting and I need a close look at those spandrels. If as young as the ones Ralph linked to they would presumably be diecast which would be obvious, but I'm sure they will reveal something.
     
  27. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    well it has arrived, just had time for a quick look.
    The matting is shallow and well rubbed, similar to a 30 hour by clement that sold at gardiner houlgate this year.

    The bell is new, the spandrels too, the movement appears original for what is there but has some interesting spare holes in the top plate. Even more interesting the hammer has a crook in it that currently serves no purpose. However if you draw the hammer right back it would work to clear the arbour for the anchor. Perhaps the original bell was in a different place and the hammer was operating in that area.
     
  28. zedric

    zedric Registered User

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    When you get the chance, post some better photos. You must be happy so far though...
     
  29. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    yes, I think so, the collets look right, either domed or squared arbour, some nice tapering on the arbours.

    four points of attachment on the dialplate for the movement, the movement and dialplate have always been together as far as I can see and I would say since the late 17th century. Dialplate is heavy and hammered brass casting.

    All of that's a huge plus, that hopefully means the chapter ring has always been there, no signs so far that it has not.

    If so it gives more credence to the signature, with the spandrels, bell, and bellstand all added much more recently.

    I can see a threaded hole with matching steady pin hole for the original bell stand.

    Auctioneers have managed to lose the slide for the bob but that was all very new anyway.

    That click for the Huygens drive is a joy, very smooth action even when winding with the chain which itself has very small links.
     
  30. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    Some more pics for you, take out the bell, bellstand, and spandrels, then you have one pretty complete and unspoiled clock. As to the signature... we will look later into that. For now the movement has some interesting features and embellishments.

    stylish shaping of the cruciform bar
    308334.jpg
    riveted posts on the top plate but threaded here on the bottom with square nuts. Vertical bars located as usual with a pair of spigots. Note two attachment points for dial top and bottom. That pin is securing the bell spring, never seen that before.
    308335.jpg

    Bellstand new and seems in a new position

    308336.jpg

    matched collets, all shallow dome. The wheel with the hoop for the strike has a tapered and squared arbour.


    308337.jpg

    deep chamfer carved on cruciform bar.

    308338.jpg

    clearer shot of tapered arbour and no collet on hooped wheel.

    308339.jpg

    That click, smoothest chain wind ever.
    308340.jpg

    wooden pulley, you can see it has had chain running on it a very long time

    308341.jpg
     

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  31. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    Just returning to that signature.

    I've looked at it long and hard, is it the right script? Is there any likelihood that I could pick up a knibb?

    Well I have no idea, but for the first time ever I found something on the back of a chapter ring that wasn't a scratched XII

    308342.jpg
     

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  32. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    While pondering that, here are three more pics.

    I did find another non original part

    308345.jpg


    Who does this sort of detailing on a part nobody will ever see unless they dismantle the clock?

    308346.jpg


    And last, for me one of the best bits. I would have bought the clock just for this.

    308347.jpg
     

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  33. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Nick,

    I think it's not unknown for engravers to try out their design on the back of a chapter ring or plate. This version with the more elaborate "h" clearly didn't quite fit, considering the position of the chapter ring.

    Ah, so this confirms it as a Swiss fake. . .

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  34. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    Yes, though in all the clocks and chapter rings I've now handled that is my first. I found it very encouraging, obviously there will never be a conclusive answer but it is the most positive thing on the whole clock and it was buried under centuries of tarnish.

    What I need is a set of detailed images of other knibbs to see if any of the peculiarities of this clock are repeated. A copy of the book on oxfordshire clockmakers if it has a lot of photographs might help determine if these features were generic to Oxford clocks of the period rather than peculiar to one clockmaker.

    The little dial is presumably a pocket watch, I was surprised it was brass with numbers on, are the numbers printed, would the brass have been silvered?
     
  35. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Nick,

    It looks like a pocket watch or perhaps a small clock, since it's marked "8 Day", and the finish would have been printed over a silvered or painted finish. I think it's probably late 19th or early 20th century.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  36. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    looking at other knibb thirty hours on the net to find similarities, I see a number of brass doughnuts.
     
  37. ClipClock

    ClipClock Registered User
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    Seems likely you've had a fabulous find Nick, many congratulations :)
     
  38. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    Thank you Sally, I never thought I would end up with such a famous name in my motley collection. doesn't even need any money spent on it apart from replacing the spandrels (and the bell I think, it isn't a good look)
     
  39. ClipClock

    ClipClock Registered User
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    Are you going to look for a case for it?

    If you do decide to replace the bell I might be interested in buying it off you, reckon it could be about right size for a clock I've acquired :)
     
  40. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    #40 novicetimekeeper, Jun 23, 2017
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 31, 2017
    I haven't really got anywhere to set it up, but if I find a suitable case I might. It will probably end up on the wall at some point.

    I'll measure the bell for you.

    Edit> I foolishly forgot to bid on what would have been the perfect case a few weeks ago, it had barley twist door pillars and went for £200!
     
  41. zedric

    zedric Registered User

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    That's not a bad price if the case was original to the style!

    I bid on an John Barnett longcase clock a few years back - nice barley twist case with stringing inlay, but the movement which seemed probably to be original to the case had been messed with - originally a three train, it had had one of the trains removed and some other alterations. I didn't win, the price it went for was way above my limit. But a few weeks later the movement was put up for sale, and sold for very little - who ever had won the first auction had bid all that money for the case...
     
  42. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    The clock in it was much later and messed about with.

    I simply got the date wrong on the auction, I was spitting feathers on the price it went for. Basically a dead ringer for the case on my Fennel

    attachment.jpg attachment.jpg attachment.jpg
     
  43. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    I was chatting to the chap who bought a Knibb at an auction recently, I had tracked him down to see if there were similarities.

    there aren't, they are chalk and cheese.

    However trying to describe mine I remembered that Jonathan said there was one in Brian Loomes Brass Dials book and I said I would look.

    For some reason I didn't but I have now. Jonathan you are a star!

    It isn't similar, it is virtually identical. There can be no doubt now in my mind that this is an original Knibb.

    The Loomes one does raise an issue though. It has twin cherub and crown spandrels, which everybody, including Loomes, say are post 1700. However this is a 1690 clock.

    Dean and I have been saying for a while that the accepted spandrel dating is a bit questionable at times. I was looking for a set of cherub's head spandrels. Now I'm not so sure.
     
  44. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Nick,

    It seems to me that the question of spandrels is analogous to the pillars in watch movements; some previous authors have suggested that their designs can be placed into defined groups and used to assign dates, but I think the reality is far more "fuzzy". The further back in time we look, the fewer examples of a given design have survived, so assigning a characteristic on the basis of only one or two examples is surely suspect.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  45. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    I agree, and to a large extent we all rely on C&W which is now a very old book. I think a lot more clocks have been seen since the 50s, the internet has meant we can all see them and we start to question some of the assumptions made.

    I'm very much a newbie but I've looked at hundreds of longcase clocks with the benefit of the internet, far more than I could physically visit in the time. You very quickly realise some of the rules laid down in the books are too strict.
     
  46. DeanT

    DeanT Registered User

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    Graham, I think you are right about this. I also think that C&W attached dates to a lot of spandrels without proper research (ie access to thousands of clocks on the internet) and these dates have been repeated by later authors and have become enshrined as official dates without any real proof.

    Cheers
     
  47. DeanT

    DeanT Registered User

    Mar 22, 2009
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    hahaha...you beat me by 2 minutes to make the same response!
     
  48. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

    Jul 26, 2015
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    Well we do talk a lot about clocks, and our tastes are similar. :)
     
  49. jmclaugh

    jmclaugh Registered User

    Jun 1, 2006
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    I'm glad having got it you are now convinced it is the real thing Nick.

    As for spandrel patterns and dating they should be taken as a guide and not hard and fast rules and that is especially so of provincial clocks plus you do come across patterns that aren't in the books. C&W's book is I think about a 100 years old but it is still my go to book for spandrels as the illustrations are the best I have access to.
     
  50. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    I don't think there can be any doubt about it now Jonathan. I was there with the hand, posts, fly, and then the signature on the chapter ring back, but I could have made it earlier if I had looked in Loomes as you suggested. That added in the 8 day click, the curve in the bell hammer and finally nailed it on the hand and fly.

    Brian Loomes also talks about the style of matting which had concerned me in the original pictures but as soon as I saw it I knew it was matting of the highest standard, which doesn't always photograph well.

    I think now I should be looking at a set of twin cherub spandrels as I think my clock and the one in the book must be contemporary, perhaps even the same year. That's a bit of a shame because it is hard to get your brain around those being so early when it disagrees with everything you have read.(and I rather like the other style!)
     

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