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Joseph Knibb: A rare olivewood grande sonnerie small longcase clock, London, circa 1680, movement and case associated
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Joseph Knibb: A rare olivewood grande sonnerie small longcase clock, London, circa 1680, movement and case associated
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Details & Cataloguing

Clocks, Watches, Barometers, Mechanical Music & Scientific Instruments

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London

Joseph Knibb: A rare olivewood grande sonnerie small longcase clock, London, circa 1680, movement and case associated
10-inch latched dial signed Joseph Knibb Londini Fecit at the base of the dial plate within the wheatear border, cherub spandrels, skeletonised chapter ring with every minute numbered on a finely matted gilt ground, well pierced hands, three train movement with ten ring turned and knopped latched pillars, triple divided front plate, anchor escapement with butterfly nut regulation above the back cock, two outside countwheels, the backplate with provision for a fixing bracket (bracket lacking), the pendulum with brass rod, butterfly thumb piece and threaded brass bob, the case of rich colour with rising hood flanked by spiral pilasters and with carved shell and flower cresting, the top cut for an oval fret (now covered), the trunk door with spoon locking and veneered with  oyster-cut wood within a border of crossbanding, the restored plinth similalry veneered
213cm. 7ft high
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Provenance

The collection of the Viscount Hereford sold in these rooms lot 222 13th October 1988

Literature

This clock is illustrated and discussed Dawson, Drover, Parkes Early English Clocks Antique Collectors’ Club 1982; pg. 203, plts 273, 274 and 344

Catalogue Note

Joseph Knibb, the most famous and inventive member of the celebrated Knibb clockmaking family was born circa 1640. He was apprenticed to his cousin Samuel in about 1655 and after serving seven years worked first at Oxford and then moved to London in 1670 where he was made Free of the Clockmakers’ Company. He must soon have built up a good reputation for himself as it is recorded that he supplied a turret clock for Windsor Castle in 1677 and payments were made to him in 1682 on behalf of King Charles II. Towards the end of the 17th century Joseph Knibb moved to Hanslop in Buckinghamshire where he died in December 1711.

No other maker produced such an intriguing variety of striking and repeating mechanisms and the grande sonnerie sequence used on this clock is possibly unique and probably an early experimental design to overcome the difficulty of  providing grande sonnerie striking for a full eight days. The sequence is at first confusing and may explain why Knibb does not appear to have used it on any other clock.

At the hour the large bell is sounded alone and strikes the full twelve hour sequence using the left hand train; at the quarter hours the large bell again is used but this time for the quarter hour sequence followed by the previous hour sounded on the small bell driven by the right hand train; at the quarters, the double-six  form of hour striking is used instead of the full twelve hours.  Thus the left hand train has a countwheel cut for the twelve hour sequence and also for the three quarters, while the right hand train has a countwheel cut for the six hour sequence and allowing for this to be repeated three times an hour after each of the first three quarters. There is a momentary delay between the quarters and the hours as the countwheels are not interconnected and the two trains are released by separate detents.

 The great challenge for a maker of grande sonnerie clocks is to provide enough power to the striking train to ensure that the clock strikes the required number of blows for a whole week. A conventional hour striking clock will sound the bell 1,248 times during the course of eight days, but a grande sonnerie clock is required to make the greatly increased number of 4,992 strokes during the same period. On this early clock Joseph Knibb has overcome the difficulty by dividing the responsibility for the hour striking between two trains. This is further helped by using the double six hour form of hour striking at each of the three quarters thereby reducing the number of hour blows at the quarters from 3,744 to 2,016 over a period of eight days. As the quarters are sounded by the same train that drives the full hour striking, the number of blows produced by this train during an eight day period is 1,248 for the hours plus 1,152 for the quarters making a total of 2,400 blows which compares well with the number of blows required from the other train.

 

Clocks, Watches, Barometers, Mechanical Music & Scientific Instruments

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London