Pendulum clocks before 1658?!!!

Discussion in 'General Clock Discussions' started by Dexx, Oct 27, 2009.

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  1. Dexx

    Dexx Registered User

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    The received history of clock development assumes that commercially available pendulum clocks became available from 1658, based on Fromanteel's advertisments of that year offering these 'new style' clocks. But I have just read a fascinating article in th September issue of Antiquarian Horology that argues pendulum clocks were in existence considerably before then, and that the offered innovation in 1658 refers not to the pendulum but to the pendulum crutch (an innovation that improved timekeeping by allowing the pendulum some independence from the escapement arbor). I must say that I find the article persuasive but am no expert on this subject. If anyone else has read the piece, I'd be interested in your opinion of the thesis. The idea of overturing the revered 1658 date is, for sure, a startling and attention-grabbing thesis! Anyway, just thought I'd throw this out.
     
  2. Mike Phelan

    Mike Phelan Registered User

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    That is quite interesting, as in 1660, Fromanteel (and nearly everyone else) dispensed with the crutch and suspension spring for clocks with verge escapements.

    The 1658 Fromanteel had the cycloidal chops, so presumably that was the reason for using a crutch and a spring? I cannot see how it could affect timekeeping as the crutch hase no freedom, especially with a verge escapement.

    Lantern clocks still used a balance wheel at that time (1658 at least), but the timekeeping would be inferior to a pendulum; bracket clocks with verge escapements and short pendulums and no crutch were and are surprisingly good timekeepers.
     
  3. jmclaugh

    jmclaugh Registered User

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    I haven't seen the article but it would be interesting to know what actual evidence the author(s) use to justify their claim.
     
  4. Ansomnia

    Ansomnia Registered User

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    #4 Ansomnia, Oct 28, 2009
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2009
    Dexx, I have also read the articles by Plomp and Whitestone in current issue of AH. I believe they were arguing about whether Coster was not actually the first clockmaker that made clocks based on Huygens' designs. Whitestone's theory is that Isaac Thuret had made the first clock based on Huygens' design whereas Plomp is sticking to his original assertion, that Coster made the first Huygens clock. From what I've read, Plomp and Whitestone's arguments both centre around different interpretations of wording used by Huygens, Fromanteel and other horologists who corresponded with Huygens. With the peculiar ways people used language in those days, it can prove somewhat difficult and confusing for modern day readers to be sure of the full original meanings.

    There also appears to have been comments alluding to pendulums having been used in clocks before Huygens put forth and implemented his treatises on the pendulum (David Penny's article in the same issue of AH). One argument was that Huygens was just suggesting an improvement, the cycloidal cheeks, and not introducing the whole idea; presumably because people already knew of and had tried using pendulums in clocks before.

    As theories based on fuzzy historical accounts, there would seem to be leeway to argue for the possibility of alternate theories but the key is to find physical evidence; like an older original clock or clear written accounts or drawings that can be dated prior to Huygens' involvement. I haven't seen that put forth as yet... although David Penny is arguing that the Edward East clock in his article is possibly evidence because it exhibits features that precede 1658 (very short duration of 3 to 4 days due to a primitive spring drive - East was the arguably the best maker of his time so Penny argues that this maker would not have put an inferior mechanism in a later clock when better technology would have been easily accessible to him).


    Michael
     
  5. Dexx

    Dexx Registered User

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    Mike Phelan wrote:

    "The 1658 Fromanteel had the cycloidal chops, so presumably that was the reason for using a crutch and a spring? I cannot see how it could affect timekeeping as the crutch has no freedom, especially with a verge escapement."

    Thanks Mike. I was wondering about the same thing. I've looked for some photos of a Fromanteel clock with crutch but only found examples with a roller cage (I assume that this is not what is being referred to). Here are a few small excerpts from the article (Michael, yes it is the Penney article that I'm looking at, although I have read the Plomp and Whitestone exchange too). From the Penney article:

    "...Fromanteel first advertised that he was making these new style clocks in London [in 1658] ...According to accepted wisdom, any clock with an original pendulum must be post 1658 [....] The operation of the cycloidal cheeks required a flexibly suspended pendulum, and, most importantly for the future of pendulum clocks, both of Huygens' solutions utilized a crutch to connect the pendulum to the clockwork. I believe it was this design feature, the crutch as a means of marrying the pendulum to a movement, that was the 'secret' that Fromanteel brought to London [....] As we know, Huygens did not solve the problem of timekeeping at sea, but his idea of cycloidal cheeks did not die with him....As for the independently suspended pendulum working with a crutch, this quickly became the norm for all precision clocks and remains with us to this day."

    So, as I understand the article, the author is suggesting that there is evidence for clocks with original pendulums prior to 1658, and that Fromanteel's 1658 advertisement does not contradict that thesis because it can be interpreted as referring to the invention of the crutch and not the application of a pendulum to clockwork, presumably with a pendulum connecting to the crutch by being suspended from a back cock. Moreover, there is evidence of pre-1658 original pendulum clocks (without original crutches), and the above thesis is a way of understanding how that could be possible. Anyway, this is how I'm interpreting the drift of the author's argument.

    I didn't know that most makers stopped using a crutch from 1660. That's interesting. I suppose that this does not logically contradict the author's thesis. But perhaps it happened because the crutch arrangement did not work well with verge and crownwheel spring clocks, given that the wide arc of swing meant that the moments of pendulum freedom were negligible compared to anchor escapement? I'm only guessing and slightly out of my depth at this point, lol!
     
  6. Mike Phelan

    Mike Phelan Registered User

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    Dexx
    I think the main reason for not using a crutch with a verge escapement (and using this escapement) was for portability on bracket clocks; most folk could only afford one clock, so it needed to be carried about without fear of damage.

    A verge is very tolerant with being out-of-beat, and the lack of suspension means that it doesn't matter if the clock leans forward or back, either.

    That is probably also the reason for retaining the verge escapement well into the 1700's, whilst the longcase clocks used an anchor escapement as soon as it was perfected.
     
  7. Ralph

    Ralph Registered User
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    Dexx,

    A few points... I think the early cycloidal cheek genre of clocks probably used silk thread suspensions.

    I'm not sure what the earliest use of rise/fall regulation was used, but those clocks use a verge/crownwheel/ crutch and a suspension spring.

    Some precision clocks use a crutchless knife edge suspended pendulum.

    Ralph
     
  8. Ansomnia

    Ansomnia Registered User

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    #8 Ansomnia, Oct 29, 2009
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2009
    I would agree with both Mike and Ralph. I think verge escapement clocks without crutches (like the English bracket clocks of the 17C and 18C) used that feature to provide portability. Clocks were expensive and I think it was practical to be able to carry the things from room to room. This fact probably added to the bracket clock's popularity at the expense of longcase clocks in the 18C. And owners would also only need to set time and service fewer (or just one) clocks as opposed to many... in a large home. Keeping several clocks going accurately is a pain if you're not a collector.

    As Ralph alluded, silk suspensions and crutches were used on French (réligieuse) and Dutch (Haagse) bracket clocks from the same eras so it isn't correct to say most clockmakers dispensed with crutches and suspensions after 1660. Some of those clocks also came with a pair of wall-hanging eyelets at the back of their wooden cases. I believe they were meant to help secure the clocks on whatever platforms they sat on. So I suspect they were not meant to be portable in the same sense as the English bracket clocks. I believe the French use of silk suspensions and crutches proceeded in an unbroken fashion through to the 19C.

    Interestingly, one of the very earliest English bracket clocks may have looked very similar to these French and Dutch clocks from the same period (see "Early English Clocks" by Dawson, Drover and Parkes, page 76) — it featured cycloidal cheeks and a silk suspension.

    As for David Penny's theory of pre-Huygens usage of pendulums in clocks, the Edward East clock he presented is very curious and cannot be easily ruled out. However, I think one also cannot be sure that it was pre-Huygens. There seems to be a void in extent specimens and documentation of pre-Huygens wooden cased English clocks (meaning, other than lantern or table clocks). This lack of similar specimens makes the East clock much harder to understand - was it a one-off prototype or were there many that represented a standard form of clock? This contrasts with the many examples of pendulum clocks that appeared after Huygens put forth his treatises and his early Dutch clocks. So I think the weight of the evidence between the two theories is quite unequal.

    One could also ask the question: if Fromanteel, Coster and Thuret came up with such masterpieces AFTER Huygens popularized the use of pendulums, then what were they making before that? The extent specimens and information point to watches, lantern clocks and table clocks. There is almost no evidence of mainstream wooden case clocks existing before Fromanteel made his longcase clocks. I find this very problematic to reconcile with David Penny's theory.


    Michael
     
  9. Dexx

    Dexx Registered User

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    Michael, I think you make some important points:

    "This lack of similar specimens makes the East clock much harder to understand - was it a one-off prototype or were there many that represented a standard form of clock?"

    "One could also ask the question: if Fromanteel, Coster and Thuret came up with such masterpieces AFTER Huygens popularized the use of pendulums, then what were they making before that? The extent specimens and information point to watches, lantern clocks and table clocks. There is almost no evidence of mainstream wooden case clocks existing before Fromanteel made his longcase clocks."

    These two points, when taken together, make the thesis of the article considerably less plausible, at least to my mind. This is exactly the sort of critical input I was hoping for. Thank you!
     
  10. laprade

    laprade Registered User

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    They say that old dogs can't be taught new tricks. I was looking at Raffety and Walwyn's, sold archive, and read about a clock 1670, described as being made "during the first ten years of pendulum clock"
     
  11. Ansomnia

    Ansomnia Registered User

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    #11 Ansomnia, Oct 30, 2009
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2009
    Laprade, you appear to be referring to the William Knottesford table clock (on a turntable).

    I believe you have misunderstood and then misquoted the dealer's description.
    Do you own copies of the two seminal reference books cited by the dealer? The references made by the dealer are correct. Here's what the description actually says:
    "...

    Height: 21” (53.5 cm) Date: Circa 1670-1673

    *William Knottesford was apprenticed to Henry Child in 1656-1657 and was freed in March 1663. He was made Warden of the Clockmakers’ Company in 1681 and became Master in 1693. His clocks were always of exceptional interest and quality.

    Only a few turntable clocks were made during the first fifteen years of the English pendulum clock and this example along with another almost identical one by the same maker.is a rare and quite exceptional survivor ...

    ... It is illustrated and described on page 180 of ‘Early English Clocks’ by Dawson, Drover and Parkes and it is also shown and discussed on pages 260 and 262 of ‘English Domestic Clocks’ by Cescinsky and Webster."
    The dealer alluded to the clock being dated to "... the first fifteen years of the English pendulum clock ..." and not "during the first ten years of pendulum clock" as you claim they did. The dealer's dating is valid because of the (ca. 1670-1673) dates suggested by Dawson, Drover and Parkes.

    Actually, as a side note, these 3 authors are more contemporary than Cescinsky and Webster and it is known by today's experts that the latter 2 authors appear to have underestimated the dates of many clocks when they wrote about them in their books (i.e. their dates were stated a few years later than they are deemed by today's experts). The 2 authors had claimed the Knottesford clock was made ca. 1675. This date is actually not that bad but some of the other Cescinsky and Webster datings are IMO pretty wacky.


    Michael
     
  12. laprade

    laprade Registered User

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    #12 laprade, Oct 31, 2009
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2009
  13. Ansomnia

    Ansomnia Registered User

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    #13 Ansomnia, Oct 31, 2009
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    Ah, yes I see what you mean. I apologize for mistaking what you meant ... but you also did not say which clock you were alluding to. The dealer's webpage uses extremely small (and discreet) print for the links to other pages and my eyes are getting old.

    You may want to write more clearly next time. It does not help to be vague when discussing matters that involve precision as the 2 concepts are essentially incompatible. :)

    I know this clock. It was sold not long ago at Bonhams for well over £100,000. You can imagine what the dealer sold it for!


    Michael
     
  14. Mike Phelan

    Mike Phelan Registered User

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    One wonders how on earth it could have a long pendulum! :confused:


    The slender architectural case is of oak and is veneered with ebony which was only used on the earliest and finest architectural cases. The 36 inch long panelled moulded door measures only 3 ½ inches wide
     
  15. laprade

    laprade Registered User

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    Exactement! Not much room for any swing.

    Michael, I could tell you some funny stories about Bonhams. I presume there was the "buyer's" premium on top; 10% or more!
     
  16. Ansomnia

    Ansomnia Registered User

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    #16 Ansomnia, Oct 31, 2009
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2009
    Yes, the slender case is just to protect the weights (but I've seen at least one longcase with "kidneys"... not sure if they were an afterthought! :D) . Here's the original Bonhams auction description:
    "... A fine and very rare late 17th century weight driven timepiece in an ebony veneered floor standing architectural case
    Anthony Blackford, Warwick

    The case with sliding architectural hood over a long door measuring the full width of the case at 3.5 inches wide and 36 inches long, set with a moulded rectangular panel of quartered beading and mounted on a pair of square hinges similar to those used on contemporary bracket clock doors, on a tall panelled base, applied with the same shaped moulding and raised on a plain plinth, the whole now mounted on a later backboard, the 3.5 inch square gilt brass dial engraved with a bird to each corner within scrolls enclosing the silvered Roman chapter ring with inner quarter-hour track and arrow-head half hour marks, the centre signed in flowing script to the upper part over seven realistically represented flower heads in flowing foliate scrolls, three of which terminate in mythical creatures heads, the movement with square brass plates united by four pillars with large central knops, the train of three wheels, the contrate and intermediate with a dished profile, the verge escapement (crown wheel an old replacement) with a short bob pendulum on rope drive with the original shaped lead weight. The clock is also sold with the previous crown wheel which shares a similar dished profile to the contrate and intermediate and may well be original 1.66m (5ft 5.5in) high.

    ..."
    This one's an extreme example but there have been quite a few very slender longcase clocks made with small, narrow weight-driven movements. Most of the ones I saw were continental in origin. They were sometimes mistaken as modern contrived pieces but I believe a good number of them, if not all, were authentic.

    Bonhams' premium is 20% on the first £250k (Christie's is even more painful!). So what are the funny stories you can tell us about Bonhams? :D


    Michael
     
  17. Ben Hordijk

    Ben Hordijk Registered User

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    Hi Everybody,
    Hope you are all well.
    For your discussion I advise you to go to the website of the Horological Foundation https/www.antique-horology.org, press on the left side "Articles", than press The invention of the Pendulum Clock. I am one of the authors of this publication. There you'll find the answers on your questions and the only true story of the Pendulum Clock based on real hard evidence and proper genealogical research in the archives in the Netherlands.

    Enjoy reading and stay safe in this corona era.

    Greetings,
    Ben M. Hordijk
     
  18. shutterbug

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    I tried to find your article, Ben ... but that site is way too hard to find anything in. Could you link to the actual article for us?
    Several years ago, there was a discussion here about a mechanical device with a barreled mainspring purported to be 2000 years old. It was found on an ancient ship at the bottom of the sea. Apparently a planetary position orbiter. Interesting stuff!
     
  19. Ben Hordijk

    Ben Hordijk Registered User

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  20. shutterbug

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    Thanks Ben!
     
  21. Ben Hordijk

    Ben Hordijk Registered User

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    One thing I can assure you. Thuret can never been Huygens' first clockmaker. Thuret is first mentioned in the Oeuvres Complètes in 1660 as an assumption of the authors that perhaps Huygens meant Thuret. In fact Thuret is for the real first time mentioned in the O.C. in 1663. We have more than 100 clocks by Thuret in our archive and they date all later than 1660. No earlier clock is up to now never been found. The story about Thuret is nonsense and can't be proved by any evidence. The publication of the identification and attribution of Huygens first Pendulum clock is purely based on assumptions and probabilities and is lacking hard evidence.
     
  22. Ralph

    Ralph Registered User
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  23. novicetimekeeper

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    This all goes way above my head and beyond my pocket, however just going back to something about there being no very early wood cased clocks, I don't understand that assertion.were they referring to longcase? The clock in the minster locally is 15th century and in a wooden case, the movement has been changed but the case is original. There is another wall clock in the great hall at longleat that has the movement altered but has been there since the late 16th century.
     
  24. Ralph

    Ralph Registered User
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    Here's an Isaac Thuret, 1665-1670. It is pictured in the Plomp book, Dutch Spring Clocks.

    Ralph

    22403_01.JPG 22403_02.JPG 22403_03.JPG 22403_04.JPG 22403_05.JPG 22403_06.JPG 22403_07.JPG IMG_8725_(1600_x_1200).jpg
     
  25. Ben Hordijk

    Ben Hordijk Registered User

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    Hi Ralph,
    We know that clock. It was recently (27-10-2018 lot 871) auctioned by Schmitt Horan. The estimate was $2.000-3.000 and sold for $ 1.900. Enclosed you'll find the auction description. In Reinier Plomp's new book Early French Pendulum Clocks this clock is for obvious reasons not published.
    Schermafbeelding 2020-07-02 om 09.38.45.png image.png image.png
     
  26. novicetimekeeper

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    It's amazing how little these clocks go for, completely different market to early English clocks
     
  27. Ben Hordijk

    Ben Hordijk Registered User

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    The reason why the selling price of this clock is low, you can find in the condition report. There are too many alterations and so on. Normally when such a clock is in a pristine condition it fetches a whole lot more. In the current market a good religieus clock by Thuret fetches between $ 8.000 and $ 12.000.
     
  28. novicetimekeeper

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    I was speaking generally about 17th century pendule religieuse , they regularly sell for a fraction of the price of the same age/condition English bracket clock. It is a very under valued area of collecting.
     
  29. Ben Hordijk

    Ben Hordijk Registered User

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    Apart from quality and condition the interest in 17th century pendule religieuse is limited foremost to Dutch collectors, mainly because of the similarities with the Dutch Haagse clock. The English bracket clock is much more international and therefor of higher interest. So it is a question of "supply and demand".
     
  30. novicetimekeeper

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    It's always supply and demand, that's a given.
     
  31. Ben Hordijk

    Ben Hordijk Registered User

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    You're quite right. In the case of the pendule religieuse it's funny enough, that even the French are not interested in this part of their cultural heritage.
     
  32. P.Hageman

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    A good clock signed by Coster would fetch a substancial amout of money!
    By the way, asking the Dutch, the first pendulem clock was made by a Dutch clockmaker, ask an Englishman, he knows for sure it was an English clockmaker :)
    I am leaning more towards a Dutch clockmaker :)
     
  33. novicetimekeeper

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    I don't think that's true. Now when it comes to Naval battles the Dutch twitter on about the George and the Medway but conveniently forget Kamperduin.
     
  34. P.Hageman

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    Kamperduin:???: Never heard of, you must be wrong :)
    Oops there are still pictures ..........................

    1666.jpg
     
  35. Ben Hordijk

    Ben Hordijk Registered User

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    Dear Mr. Hageman,
    Your quite right. A Coster clock would fetch a fortune.
    I love your comment on the Dutch and English. However in this case The Dutch, unfortunately for the English (I am so sorry), can prove on hard evidence that it was in fact a Dutchman (Salomon Coster) who made the first pendulum clock. The English however in this case are not trying to give the honour to themselves, but by all means to a Frenchman (Thuret).
     
  36. zedric

    zedric Registered User
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    I think in regard to the pendulum, the greater dispute seems to be between the Italians (Leonardo da Vinci) and the Dutch (Huygens) as to who can claim priority on the invention of the pendulum as a timing mechanism, although it seems fairly clear that Huygens was the first to apply the idea to a clock.
     
  37. DeanT

    DeanT Registered User

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    There are some collectors of these clocks outside the Netherlands albeit not many......


    104 (2).JPG ReligieuseCase.jpg H3607-L137464568.jpg deans pendule.jpg
     
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  38. Ralph

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    Well, that's deflating. LOL. I would like to go on record, as willing to provide safe haven for all unworthy, distressed, partial, altered, etal, 17th century and earlier clocks, especially by great makers. ;) Somebody has to do it.

    Regards, Ralph
     
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  39. P.Hageman

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    Dear Ralph, to ease the pain for you a little. I am willing to take the burden of providing a safe haven for all those clocks who are already in Europe, so you only have to take those in the rest of the world. As a token of good will, I will instantly stop collecting pinned down butterflies :)
     
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  40. Ben Hordijk

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    Dear Zedric,
    Although another discussion your statement is right according to Leonardo da Vinci and Christiaan Huygens. There are several scientific publications on this item and almost all come to the same conclusion.
     
  41. Ben Hordijk

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    Dear Ralph,
    I hope I did not let you down with the Thuret clock. Unfortunately a lot of fake or at least more or less heavily altered clocks are on the market. Good advice is always ask a reliable specialist first before buying.
     
  42. Ralph

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    Dear Ben,

    I have many clock regrets, but the Thuret isn't one of them. ;)

    Your co-authors and you have put together a great article. Thanks for the clarification.

    Cheers, Ralph
     
  43. Ralph

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    I knew there would be kindred spirits out there. I'm sure Dean has down under covered, though he suffers from discrimination, in a good way.

    Cheers, Ralph
     
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  44. novicetimekeeper

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    While you lot are hoovering up the French and Dutch ones I might stand more chance with the English ones.
     
    PatH and D.th.munroe like this.
  45. rstl99

    rstl99 Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Oct 31, 2015
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    Thank you Ben, and the same to you and yours.

    I've occasionally spent some time browsing in the antique-horology.org site and have read some wonderful and educational articles written by some of its contributors. Once one gets used to the rather unique site layout and structure, there is a lot of depth there to be explored. I applaud the people who have put that site together and continue to add quality content to it.

    Regards,
    --Robert
     
  46. kologha

    kologha Registered User

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    I think the word should be 'extant'
     
  47. Ralph

    Ralph Registered User
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    A rare typo from Ansomnia. Probably his spell checker inserted it. We miss him. His board contributions were always well researched and articulated.

    I wonder what happened to him.?

    Ralph
     
  48. Rich Newman

    Rich Newman Chair
    Director NAWCC Fellow

    Apr 6, 2005
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    I also enjoy reading about this period, and this is a really well written work. Thank you Ben.

    In my humble opinion:
    - Many great publications have been written in English by scholars in England and its not surprising that English language collectors have been a bit brainwashed around the idea that it was England that was at at the center of (nearly) anything of significance.
    - The more I study pendulum clocks and also balance spring watches, both invented or first applied by Huygens, the more I'm convinced that we can thank the Netherlands. However, it certainly was England - - English power, expansion, the huge influx of Huguenot craftsmen, apprentice & journeymen practices of the guild, innovative production methods, etc., that came together at the right time to put England at the forefront of clock and watchmaking afterwards.
    - In reference to Huygens employing the crutch and perhaps that was the "secret", I can only say that this idea has been published many, many times before and is not in any way new or groundbreaking work. Could be possible that the pendulum was applied to a clock before Coster, but if it was, I rather think it likely happened on the continent not in England. The Edward East theory was certainly interesting to read. Time will tell if any scholars agree.
    - While the book Innovation & Collaboration is controversial in its interpretation of John Fromanteel's role as an apprentice/Journeyman in Coster's workshop, it does evidence the brilliance of Ahaseurus Fromanteel well before his pendulum advertisement and his connections to the great horological advancements taking place in the Netherlands. I note, If I recall correctly, that Evans suggested the possibility that Thomas Tompion studied under Ahaseurus Fromanteel.
     
  49. Ben Hordijk

    Ben Hordijk Registered User

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    Dear Mr. Newman,
    Thank you for your kind words. We work in a team of four enthousiast horologists, and everyone on his own field deserves credit. We are at the moment doing research for a book about Salomon Coster. A few years ago I published a book about Nicolas Hanet, his life and work. Hanet, just like John Fromanteel worked with Coster and visited him three times. If you double click my photo on the website of the Horological Foundation you come to the content of my book. In fact a copy of my book is in the library of the NAWCC. Fortunat Mueller took care of that.
    I fully agree with your opinion. And of course in any case the brilliance and foresight of Ahasuerus Fromanteel deserves respect.
    Best Regards,
    Ben M. Hordijk
     
  50. Ben Hordijk

    Ben Hordijk Registered User

    Feb 4, 2018
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    I have written an article about the remains of a movement signed "N. Hanet Paris St. Germain". Hanet was one of the only few clockmakers who worked together with Salomon Coster. Hanet was Coster's and Christiaan Huygens' agent in France. Can somebody inform me how I can bring this article to the intention of interested NAWCC members ?
     

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