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John Taylor of Bath, silent repeat c.1750

NigelW

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My commission bid at auction today appears to have been successful. It has been converted to anchor and has other unspecified alterations. A bit of a punt, unseen, but should be an interesting project.

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novicetimekeeper

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Well done, I saw that in the listings. If you need a fantastic cabinet maker...
 

DeanT

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I must say I really like that clock and had considered bidding on it but figured I didn't need another restoration task.

I'd be very interested to see photos of the repeating functionality as I have a provincial one which is similar but where it is missing.

They certainly are a big project but they are beautiful clocks and make the time spent worthwhile.
 

NigelW

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There appears to be a Sotheby's label on the back of the clock but a search on their sold lot archive using the maker's name produces no result. Sotheby's, like Christies, seem to have long abandoned selling anything as down market as clocks like this but there must be a catalogue entry somewhere. The clock has not arrived yet and the current photos I have of it are not high enough resolution to be able to read it properly.
 

jmclaugh

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Can't speak for Sothebys and Christies but I wouldn't call that clock down market.
 

novicetimekeeper

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I think I read somewhere that Sotheby's now has a minimum consignment value of £3,000. The clock cost a fair bit less than that!
I think only Bonhams still does specialist clock sales, and they definitely have estimates below £3k.
 

NigelW

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I think only Bonhams still does specialist clock sales, and they definitely have estimates below £3k.
Dreweatts, one of the better provincial houses which has taken over many others over the years, still has clock auctions. That's where I bought the Etherington table clock I am working on.
 

novicetimekeeper

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Dreweatts, one of the better provincial houses which has taken over many others over the years, still has clock auctions. That's where I bought the Etherington table clock I am working on.
Yes, of course, but I was talking about the big London houses of Bonham Christie's and sothebys.

BTW is your £3k min on consigned items rather than auction lots? Costs are higher for consigned items, but the generally do better for sellers. I sold one of my wristwatches consigned and it went very well. I got more than I would at auction
 

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I'd be interested in seeing details of the repeat work. Here's another example of a John Taylor of Bath bracket clock. This one is time and strike. It's been converted and the repeat work stripped out.

img_20210921_150528530a.jpg IMG_20210921_150613534_(1600_x_1200).jpg
 

NigelW

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It's just arrived. Heart-stopping moment as I extracted it from the case and started seeing what seemed to be lots of empty holes, but on closer inspection it is looking quite good, for an altered, doer-upper.

Nice engraved backplate, but unsigned, so did it start off life with the dial? Can't find evidence it didn't so far. To me the movement looks older than the 1750 stated in the catalogue but this is provincial work. Hour hand doesn't look fine enough to be original but stylistically OK I think.

Escapement is a Brocot type, so possibly a mid to late 19th C conversion; could it have been done in France? Whoever converted it seems neither to have bothered to remove nor reconnect the repeat work. The repeat train from main arbor to fly looks to be complete and largely original. Some key elements are missing however: the pinion which gathers the rack, the driving force (a leaf spring?), the locking set up and the lever which connects with the quarter snail. The pumping spring is there, attached to the backplate, but I haven't yet worked out how it operates. Helpful diagram and notes inside suggesting how it might have worked, interestingly on what looks like a piece of French corporate headed notepad.

IMG_20210924_100403_290.jpg IMG_20210924_100502_938.jpg IMG_20210924_100531_879.jpg IMG_20210924_100605_819.jpg IMG_20210924_100638_607.jpg IMG_20210924_100726_108.jpg IMG_20210924_100706_447.jpg
 
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NigelW

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What do these numbers mean? Will anyone at Sotheby's be interested in telling me if I ask them? It would be nice to find the catalogue entry, assuming it was sold by them in the past.

IMG_20210924_105808_161.jpg
 

DeanT

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Mystery post for the strike/silent lever? Which appears to be missing.
 

NigelW

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Examining the clock more closely there appear to have been repairs and perhaps small alterations to the repeat work before it was disconnected in the Brocot conversion. On the rear of the pulley wheel is a sign of a spring hook yet there is no spring or spring barrel associated with it although there are holes where it may have been attached. The star wheel behind the hour snail has been a bit mashed partly or wholly because it is clashing with the protruding adjustable Brocot pivot. The pin on the wheel behind the quarter snail which rotates it has been cut off.

The rack lever which would have engaged with a missing pinion on repeat arbor is made up of two separate layers riveted together. I wonder if this was originally part of a mechanism to prevent it repeating unless fully wound but later botched.

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DeanT

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That was my first thought, but being a single train clock it is always on silent - the chime and strike only sound on request.
I also thought that but saw the photo of the strike/silent lever. Looking back now I see it’s Ralph clock not this one.
 

DeanT

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There must be a lever which pushes in the arbour in the top right corner of the front plate which is sprung from the back. The mystery post might be for that lever.
 
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Jevan

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I think you are right saying the multi layer rack incorporates a failsafe device.

I can't remember if you have mentioned having the book Hobson's Choice so you may already know that towards the end of the book there are a few related rack mounted "all or nothing pieces" illustrated, a Delander, an attributed Delander and a Francis Gregg.
 
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NigelW

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I think you are right saying the multi layer rack incorporates a failsafe device.

I can't remember if you have mentioned having the book Hobson's Choice so you may already know that towards the end of the book there are a few related rack mounted "all or nothing pieces" illustrated, a Delander, an attributed Delander and a Francis Gregg.
I do have that book and will look at it again. "All or nothing" was the phrase I was looking for but couldn't remember. The two parts of the lever are now so firmly riveted together it would not work but I suspect a later botched repair.
 

DeanT

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I assume this is the arbour which is sprung on the backplate? Where is the lever for this?



1632516281351.png
 

NigelW

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I assume this is the arbour which is sprung on the backplate? Where is the lever for this?
Jevan helpfully pointed me to the Delander in Hobson's choice pp 76 and 77 and the somewhat similar Gregg on pp 78-79. The pic shows my current theory. The blue lever which is pivoted on an arbor and also has a locking arm between the plates engaging on a pin on a wheel on the main repeat arbor, is unlocked by the red one. The distance it falls is determined by the quarter snail. At its right hand end is a solid wedge shaped piece which pumps the sprung quarter arm.

The two components of the rack lever, the lower one with the rack teeth and the upper one which engages with the hour snail are now both riveted together in three places, but would have been pivoted with freedom to rotate relative to each other. Only when firm contact is made with the hour snail will the top element rotate (slightly) relative to the bottom one but enough to trigger the unlocking via the red lever, thus giving an "all or nothing" action to prevent a false result.

I believe there could originally have been cocks rather than posts to support the quarter and hour snail arbors (in yellow) as in the Gregg. The post top centre remains a mystery.

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NigelW

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Having thought it through myself I have returned to the hand written diagram and description which I found inside the case. I show the picture again below. It has a different proposal to mine, effectively transposing function of the red and blue levers (C equates to the red one and A&B to the blue). This is what it says:

"Pulling repeat cord rotates pinion E moving rack to hour snail. At start large pin on pin wheel lifts levers A and B unlocking end of B allowing lever C to fall onto the quarter snail and then allowing B to fall back into correct location at G locking lever C and pump piece. On releasing, rack rewinds striking hours the 1/4 then lifting lever B unlocking G allowing pin at H on lever D (rack) to carry lever C into neutral location away from quarter snail."

Interesting hypothesis which I shouldn't rule out but I am not convinced. The main flaw for me is that it takes no account of what I believe was once an "all or nothing" unlocking arrangement.

diagram close up.jpg
 
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Jevan

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Probably a daft observation but the mock aperture back apron which is incorrectly screwed to the dial plate has a very deliberate shape.

Is there any reason to doubt it's originality as the currently unused asymmetrical fixing holes seem to line up with vacant holes on the movement frontplate which are being assumed to relate to the repeat work.
 
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novicetimekeeper

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Probably a daft observation but the mock aperture back apron which is incorrectly screwed to the dial plate has a very deliberate shape.

Is there any reason to doubt it's originality as the currently unused asymmetrical fixing holes seem to line up with vacant holes on the movement frontplate which are being assumed to relate to the repeat work.
good spot.
 

NigelW

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Probably a daft observation but the mock aperture back apron which is incorrectly screwed to the dial plate has a very deliberate shape.

Is there any reason to doubt it's originality as the currently unused asymmetrical fixing holes seem to line up with vacant holes on the movement frontplate which are being assumed to relate to the repeat work.
The thought had occurred to me and the distance between the holes at the extremities seems about the same as that between two of the pivots on the front plate but the curvature of the bit in the middle would be in the wrong direction I think to get it to line up with the false pendulum aperture. If my hypothesis about the missing cocks is correct the picture changes a bit and it might fit.
 

Jevan

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NigelW

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Comparing the under dial work of my Etherington and Taylor with most components removed has been quite instructive. The style of the posts is especially so since some are more obviously old (original even?) and others not. The earliest posts appear to be the neatest, with a rounded base almost flush with the plate rather than a protruding square boss.

The second picture shows the top left of the Taylor front plate. Top right is the post for the hour snail and star wheel, left is the post for the star wheel click and middle right is the post for the quarter snail. The first two are of the old type suggesting that the hour snail never had a cock. The quarter snail may have done and the blocked holes (bottom middle) suggest where it could have been fitted. If so the change must have been an old one as no other holes are blocked in this way. The quarter snail is a good fit on the post so mechanically I don't think replacing the cock (assuming there was one) would be necessary. There is also no sign that the quarter snail assembly ever had an arbor so could there have been a change of plan by the maker himself perhaps?

The third pic is the Etherington. The quarter snail has a cock, shaped like the number 2, but the hour doesn't. Its post is on the left and of the old type. The post top right, also an old type, is where I believe the missing quarter repeat V lever would have been. The lowest post in the pic seems to be a more recent type and supports the date wheel, which isn't original.

IMG_20210925_180917_380.jpg IMG_20210925_180928_821.jpg IMG_20210925_180947_420.jpg
 
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NigelW

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Comparing the back plates is interesting too. The style of engraving is very similar. If the Etherington is London c.1710 could the Taylor be Bath c.1730 rather than mid century? The quality is different however, the bird in the Etherington (second pic) being superior to that on the Taylor (third pic).

IMG_20210925_181713_988~2.jpg IMG_20210925_181916_606.jpg IMG_20210925_181932_825.jpg
 

NigelW

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Quite a few empty holes on the middle to bottom right of the front plate. Here is some speculation (see pic).

Unlocking lever spring (in red)

If there was an unlocking lever associated with a two piece, pivoted rack acting as an "all or nothing", which I now firmly believe there was, it would have needed a spring (see the Francis Gregg on p.78 of Hobson's Choice) There is no obvious place where the spring could have been attached other than the two holes rather awkwardly positioned below the fusee stop and pillar, but springs can sometime form wonderful contortions. Could it have been along the lines of what I have drawn in red?

Replacement driving force spring (in Green)

This is highly speculative but here is some circumstantial evidence. The spring and spring barrel behind the rear pulley have been removed. There is evidence elsewhere that the repeat mechanism was altered before it was disabled (for example the riveting together of the two elements of the rack) so was the motive force changed too, from a wound spring in a barrel on the back to a leaf spring on the front?

At the corner of the L shaped rack is a brass boss, bearing a suspiciously close resemblance to a wheel collet. It has no obvious function and is unlikely to have been the pivot point for the two components before they were riveting together (see the Delander on pp 77-8 of Hobson's choice). Could it have been added so that a leaf spring (in green) could have acted on it, pushing it to the right to drive the repeat work?

Stop for rack (yellow)

Not all illustrations of these kinds of repeats seem to have a stop here, but the Hubert helpfully illustrated by Jevan above does.

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Jevan

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As with the Taylor I believe the Hubert has had modifications to the repeat which include the removal of part of the all or nothing mechanism.

The Hubert "stop" is in fact a stud with a retaining pin hole, I suspect this originally held the missing all or nothing activation/trigger lever.


Hopefully of some use, more Hubert Images.


Herbert (1).JPG Herbert (2).JPG Herbert (3).JPG Herbert (4).JPG
 
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NigelW

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Separated the plates yesterday and had a good look at what was inside. Most of the components are shown in the pic below. The going train beyond the great wheel on the fusee is all a replacement but the repeat train is pretty intact. Excessively large post has been attached to the main wheel for unlocking, almost certainly replacing an earlier one in a slightly different position. Repair to a lever on one of the quarter hammer arbors. The upper component of the L-shaped rack lever is hanging together by a thread of metal (the two elements appear to have been dovetailed together and then (later) a large hole drilled to fit the brass boss of somewhat uncertain function. I will need to make a new piece I think as a soldered repair will be unsightly.

IMG_20210928_073214_9~2.jpg
 

NigelW

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Train counts, for those interested in such things:

Going
Great wheel 84
Centre 7 pinion, 84 wheel
3rd 6 pinion 72 wheel
escape 7 pinion 32 teeth

Repeat
Main wheel 72 ratchet 72
2nd 6 pinion 66 teeth
3rd 6 pinion 60 teeth
fly 6 pinion
 
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Jevan

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Same system but this time on a 2018 auctioned Quare & Horseman, images only posted as I think they better illustrate the operation.

Albeit with slight variations similar systems are used by many different makers or retailers, the core similarities are such that in my opinion inter-trade relationships in the clock trade were much more advanced than one might first imagine.


1.JPG 2.JPG 3.JPG 4.JPG
 
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DeanT

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Same system but this time on a 2018 auctioned Quare & Horseman, images only posted as I think they better illustrate the operation.

Albeit with slight variations similar systems are used by many different makers or retailers, the core similarities are such that in my opinion inter-trade relationships in the clock trade were much more advanced than one might first imagine.


View attachment 673836 View attachment 673837 View attachment 673838 View attachment 673839
Thanks Jevan...the great thing about Nigel's thread is great photos and descriptions which provide a great resource. I am learning a lot.
 

NigelW

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Same system but this time on a 2018 auctioned Quare & Horseman, images only posted as I think they better illustrate the operation.
Very nice pics, thanks. Very similar, except only one quarter bell. Curious pendulum height adjustment too. The pics show the pumping wedge particularly well. I have tracked down the catalogue entry. Sold for more than fifteen times what I paid for mine, but it is in great nick and has the magic Quare name on it.
 

Ralph

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Here's another example, by Richard Gregg...

This one uses a face cam/snail operating a shift lever that moves the spring loaded quarters hammer arbor, to engage the proper number of pins during quarter striking.

GreggS0001.jpg GreggS0002.jpg GreggS0003.jpg GreggS0004.jpg GreggS0005.jpg GreggS0007.jpg GreggS0008.jpg GreggS0009.jpg GreggS0010.jpg GreggS0011.jpg


Ralph
 
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NigelW

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Here's another example, by Richard Gregg...

This one uses a face cam/snail operating a shift lever that moves the spring loaded quarters hammer arbor, to engage the proper number of pins during quarter striking.

Ralph
Thank Ralph - most interesting and helpful.

I am a bit puzzled by this one however and wonder if it hasn't been altered a bit (like many clocks of this age). The rack appears to be in two parts like mine, the lower one having the rack teeth and the upper one having an arm which engages with the hour snail, and there is a screw in exactly the right place (like mine) to allow it to pivot slightly when the arm hits the snail. All this points to an "all or nothing" mechanism yet there appears to be no unlocking lever for it to engage with. Between the plates there does appear to be a locking pin on the main wheel of the repeat but I can't see any unlocking arm but it may just be the camera angle. Does the front plate have some blocked holes where some other parts could once have been attached? Looking at the picture I can't be sure; it might just be natural discolouration of the brass.

Nigel
 

Ralph

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Nigel,

You're right about a number of holes being plugged. I'm not sure if it is a repurposed piece of brass used as a front plate or if is was experimentation. . Most appear to have nothing to do with a repeat function. The clock does not have an "all or nothing" mechanism. It's dependent on pulling the repeat work fully to it's stop. I think most repeating clocks operate that way. I associate the feature more with repeating watches.

The finger for testing the snail is fixed to the sector spoke/arm.

IMG_20211003_101730726_(1600_x_1200)a.jpg IMG_20211003_101734944_(1600_x_1200)a.jpg
 
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NigelW

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You're right about a number of holes being plugged. I'm not sure if it is a repurposed piece of brass used as a front plate or if is was experimentation. . Most appear to have nothing to do with a repeat function. The clock does not have an "all or nothing" mechanism. It's dependent on pulling the repeat work fully to it's stop. I think most repeating clocks operate that way. I associate the feature more with repeating watches.
The Francis Gregg (any relation?) illustrated on pages 78 and 79 of Hobson's choice has an unlocking arm and an "all or nothing" two piece rack which engages with it. One possibility which occurs to me is that the large plugged hole on the top left is where an arbor for one such arm may once have been. In my Taylor clock this is absent as is the unlocking lever and the two pieces of the rack appear to have been subsequently riveted together suggesting that the unlocking was at some point removed. If my hypothesis is correct there should be a corresponding but smaller pugged hole in the backplate.

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