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Thomas Wright bracket clock

DeanT

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Some information on Thomas Wright:

Instrument makers in Broderers' Company Broderers' Company was originally a fraternity for the embroiderer's trade. It was a small company, and its records clearly show the consequences of a man of another trade entering into membership. When Joseph Howe was admitted as a Freeman in the mid-seventeenth century, probably by patrimony (relevant records are missing), he brought with him the trade of instrument maker. By 1679 he was in the Livery, and in the 1680s he took two important apprentices, John Rowley and Jonathan Roberts. Although described in a newspaper as a spectacle maker, 51 Howe trained Rowley and Roberts as mathematical instrument makers. John Rowley went on to train the well- known makers Thomas Wright and William Dean, both known for their development of orrery manufacture following in Rowley's footsteps, 52 and Benjamin Scott who, after working in London for a few years, emigrated to St Petersburg to work for the Academy of Sciences. With his two apprentices, Joseph Howe started a school of instrument makers which eventually involved twenty men, and which might have grown throughout the eighteenth century. In fact, the chain died out in Broderers' Company in 1730, after which date no new apprentices were bound to an instrument maker. The chain of knowledge did not die however, as it was continued by Joseph Howe in his second guild, Spectaclemakers' Company, and by Samuel Saunders who was freed by patrimony in Masons' Company. Reference has already been made to the joint training by turn-over of John Bradley, Samuel Saunders, and Benjamin Scott, all of whom served part of their indentures with Masters in other guilds. Other references of special interest in the records include the description of Thomas Wright's apprentice (William Post) when he was freed, as a clockmaker. Wright is known to have made watches, as well as orreries and other instruments, showing the influence of his father who was a clockmaker in Southwark. When Thomas Wright finished serving his apprenticeship with John Rowley, he was freed on the testimony of his Master and John Coggs, Citizen & Pewterer. Coggs was already known as an employee of Rowley's, and his testimony suggests that he was responsible for some of Wright's tuition, presumably when Rowley was busy elsewhere in his capacity as Master of Mechanics to George I. In Broderers' Court Minutes for 1717, Rowley was excused service as Warden of the Company because he was too busy 'in the King's service'.

Broderers' Company was one of the guilds which, according to its Ordinances, required the presentation of a masterpiece when an apprentice applied for his freedom; the applicant 'must show his master-piece to the Wardens and Assistants'. Also, 'any Journeyman wanting to set up a workshop shall seek the permission of the Wardens and Assistants; he must have in his possession suitable premises and must not be an inmate or chamberer'. Further restrictions were that 'no freeman shall set up or keep a workhouse or take an apprentice until he has served at least 3 years as a Journeyman with a free Imbroderer'; the penalty for disobeying was a fine of 13s 4d. There was no record of these regulations being enforced, with regard to instrument makers, but some references to embroiderers presenting masterpieces were found in the late-seventeenth century.

WRIGHT, THOMAS Son of William of St. Saviours, Southwark, clockmaker 3 April 1707 bound to John Rowley 1 February 1715 freed on testimony of his Master and John Coggs and Pewterer 13 December 1722 Livery 7 June 1731 Renter Warden 23 August 1733 1764 on Court of Assistants 7 May 1746 paid fine of s to be excused duty as Master 4 June 1750-1764 Auditor of Company's books Apprentices: William Post (described as a clock- maker when freed)

On a trade card dated 1718, Thomas described himself as Mathematical Instrument maker to Royal Highness George Prince of Wales (later George I) at "the Orrery & Globe next the Globe & Marlborough Head Tavern in Fleet Street". Rate books show that Thomas shared the buildings with George Graham between 1720 and 1728. Wright occupied the shop sp Graham presumably has the room upstairs. According to another source Thomas moved in 1732 to the other side of the court entrance, that no. 136. Graham continued to reside above the shop no. 135 until his death 1751. Wright was therefore closely associated with Graham. Tompion and Graham made the first orrery which John Rowley (Wright's master) used as his model from the production of an orrery for Charles Boyle, the 4th Earl of Orrery in 1712 from which they derived their name.

It is assumed that Graham made many of the complex wheels for Rowley's and Wright's orreries given there close relationship.

In 1731, Wright collated with R. Cushee in publishing "The description and Use of Globes, and the Orrery"

In 1734 and advertisement in this book read:

"The great encouragement Mr. Wright has had for the above 6 years past in making large Orreries, with the Motions of all the Planets and Satellites, and the true Motions of Saturn's ring; has made him so ready and perfect, that Gentleman may depend on having them made Reasonable and Sound, not liable to be out of order."
 

novicetimekeeper

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Reading the book, The Clockmakers of London by George White, and chatting to Andrew James last month, it is clear the Clockmakers did try to get the instrument makers under their wing. It seems you had to be in a guild, but which guild wasn't always important.

A lot of this may have come about from the fire of London in 1666 which followed the plague in 1665. There was a huge need to rebuild London very quickly before her status in the World as the place to do business was lost (sounds like our current troubles) and as a result the controls of the guilds were relaxed, never to return to how they had been.
 

DeanT

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Reading the book, The Clockmakers of London by George White, and chatting to Andrew James last month, it is clear the Clockmakers did try to get the instrument makers under their wing. It seems you had to be in a guild, but which guild wasn't always important.

A lot of this may have come about from the fire of London in 1666 which followed the plague in 1665. There was a huge need to rebuild London very quickly before her status in the World as the place to do business was lost (sounds like our current troubles) and as a result the controls of the guilds were relaxed, never to return to how they had been.
In the same article about the Broderers' Company I found a reference to John Knibb who was a member of the Joiner's Company.

KNIBB, John Son of Thomas of Claydon, Oxfordshire, 7 November 1664 bound to William Sutton [1673 freed in Oxford]
[Astronomical clock known; brother Joseph and cousin of Samuel Knibb]
 

jmclaugh

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A beautiful clock, the backplate is a work of art in itself.
 

NigelW

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Wonderful clock. Interesting that the six quarter bells are supported only on a single stand attached to the back plate. I had assumed that they would also need support from a stand on the front plate. The position of the bell stand on the back plate and how it relates to the 1/4 strike barrel is also interesting - I think my Etherington clock had something very similar.
 
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novicetimekeeper

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Dean's Willliam Ward also has all the bells supported on a single bellstand with no additional strap. When you move it about that makes a noticeable difference. For shipping I have to separate the bells from the movement as well as the movement from the case.
 

DeanT

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Wonderful clock. Interesting that the six quarter bells are supported only on a single stand attached to the back plate. I had assumed that they would also need support from a stand on the front plate. The position of the bell stand on the back plate and how it relates to the 1/4 strike barrel is also interesting - I think my Etherington clock had something very similar.
Most of the ones I have seen personally only have 1 post for the rack of bells. Another thing you have highlighted that I had never considered before!

Sent you some photos to help. A couple of them date to similar age to the Etherington. Also sent you a video.

Cheers
 
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DeanT

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Some photos of Peter's restoration. Few things to sort out but otherwise looking good.

Peter1.jpg Peter2.jpg Peter3.jpg Peter4.jpg Peter5.jpg Peter6.jpg Peter7.jpg Peter8.jpg Peter9.jpg
 
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novicetimekeeper

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Case is finished, will be dropping it off to him next weekend I think.
 

NigelW

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Great work. It's wonderful to see all the components. It's given me plenty of ideas on how to shape a number of the pieces for my Etherington restoration.
 

DeanT

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Some photos from Peter with its case. Suffice to say I am very happy with Peter and Scott's handiwork.

back.jpg backplate.jpg backplate2.jpg dial.jpg front1.jpg Frontplate.jpg side.jpg topmovement.jpg
 

novicetimekeeper

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that's looking good, I hadn't seen them together yet. Has he found you the bell yet?
 

Jim DuBois

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We don't get many clocks of this caliber around here, so my experience with them is limited. Excuse the silly question but are the plates generally lacquered in these restorations? I assume the lacquer would be quite well thinned before application? Wheels and other parts also lacquered? Around here unlacquered plates and parts will turn a nice shade of brown in short order. I generally do lacquer plates and wheels even on much lesser quality movements, but I can't say I am getting the really crisp finished look as seen on this movement, and others you all show often. How about the dials? I notice several claims of waxing the dial vs. lacquering them? Just trying to further educate myself. Thanks.
 

DeanT

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We don't get many clocks of this caliber around here, so my experience with them is limited. Excuse the silly question but are the plates generally lacquered in these restorations? I assume the lacquer would be quite well thinned before application? Wheels and other parts also lacquered? Around here unlacquered plates and parts will turn a nice shade of brown in short order. I generally do lacquer plates and wheels even on much lesser quality movements, but I can't say I am getting the really crisp finished look as seen on this movement, and others you all show often. How about the dials? I notice several claims of waxing the dial vs. lacquering them? Just trying to further educate myself. Thanks.
The chapter ring is lacquered but the movements generally not. They don't tarnish much as long as they are clean and have no finger prints. I suspect it might be the quality of the brass which makes the difference. I have clocks which were restored 5 years ago that still have high polish. I like them highly polished and then let them mellow a little over time.
 

DeanT

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that's looking good, I hadn't seen them together yet. Has he found you the bell yet?
Getting a bell made to match the existing. Will be interested to see the end result as I need a bell for another clock.
 

Jim DuBois

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The chapter ring is lacquered but the movements generally not. They don't tarnish much as long as they are clean and have no finger prints. I suspect it might be the quality of the brass which makes the difference. I have clocks which were restored 5 years ago that still have high polish. I like them highly polished and then let them mellow a little over time.
Dean, thanks for the information. Makes sense why they look so "crisp", no finish. I put my shop regulator into service perhaps 20 years ago, un-lacquered. It was an unpleasant shade of brown last year when I refinished it. So, from highly polished to butterscotch in color/patina in about 18 years. You may be correct in regard to the quality of the brass being a contributor. I have several other examples, but none of which I have before and after photos.
 

DeanT

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Looks very good.
What polish do you use ?
Scott did the case and i'm not sure exactly what stain he used but I have used the following process which produces great results. Just don't get it on your hands as it doesn't come out and you have to wait for it to wear off.....

Enjoy
Dean


Old fashion recipe for ebonizing wood


The recipe involves using three easily available chemicals:


1. Vinegar


2. Rust


3. Tannic acid


The first step is mixing the tannic acid powder with water. I mixed about 25 grams with a couple of hundred ml’s of water. The solution will be quite brown at this stage. Tannic acid is readily available from home brew beer or wine shops in small amounts.


The next step is flooding the wood with the Tannic acid solution using a paint brush or cloth. Once the wood for staining is completely covered you will need to wait for the solution to dry and be absorbed into the wood.


You may recall that Tannic acid is present in tea but is also naturally occurring in wood, with the amount depending on the wood species. Another use of tea is soaking rusty clock parts to remove the rust which turn a black colour after being left in a tea solution over night. The parts can then be scrubbed clean removing the rust in the process. Remember to dry the part thoroughly or the rust will return very quickly.


A more porous wood will absorb more of the tannic acid increasing the depth and darkness of the stain achieved in the second phase of this process.


If you would like a better finish it would be advisable to raise the grain of the wood and sanding flat before applying the Tannic acid to minimize the raised grain after treatment.


Next we need to make a rusty vinegar solution by adding rusty steel to common household vinegar. Old screws, nails and anything else with rust on it will suffice. Just keep adding more rust to the vinegar until it no longer dissolves the rust and the solution is saturated. It takes a bit of time to make the solution so plan ahead and probably best to make the day before it is required.


Now apply the rusty vinegar to the wood. Depending on the strength of the solution the reaction will happen within a few seconds and the wood will turn an intensely dark black colour which will have penetrated up to a depth of a 1mm depending on the porosity of the wood. The stain is very black so if you want a lighter finish this probably isn’t the best approach.


Wear gloves during the last phase as while the chemicals are not toxic the reaction that occurs in the wood will also stain your fingers and it doesn’t wash off! Trust me on this as I learnt the hard way.


Don’t use the same paintbrush in both solutions or you will ruin the solutions by contaminating them as the reaction will occur in the preliminary chemical mixtures ruining them.


If the surface ends up a light grey colour this means that you have applied more rusty vinegar than Tannic acid. Just wait for it to dry and paint on some more Tannic acid and the surface will end up the expected black colour.


Hopefully, the wood is now ready for French polishing. I’ve seen it recommended that it is best to French polish with a garnet tinted polish as the black colour achieved through this method can be a little cold without a tint.

 

novicetimekeeper

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I don't know what he does either, but it must be different on the longcase as that is gesso underneath. These bracket clocks are all fruitwood and ebony veneer so I guess the treatment is different as the grain is so much finer.
 

DeanT

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I don't know what he does either, but it must be different on the longcase as that is gesso underneath. These bracket clocks are all fruitwood and ebony veneer so I guess the treatment is different as the grain is so much finer.
Yes I think the gesso will be applied to a wood which is not suitable for French polishing such as oak or pine to create a smooth surface.
 

D.th.munroe

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Shhh It's probably a secret.. lol but ebonizing recipes in some 17th and 18th century books were basically iron gall ink.
 

DeanT

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iron gall ink
"Iron gall ink is essentially created by the chemical reaction between tannic acid and iron(II) sulfate in an aqueous solution."

I think that is the same as the recipe I gave.
 

woodlawndon

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Fantastic clock, I just don't see anything like your collection around here. I'd really love to see a thread devoted to your collection with lots of pictures...
Don
 

D.th.munroe

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That's why I showed that one (and said iron gall ink) most are variations of that recipe. One older one calls for green vitriol as well (also iron sulfate)
 

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