Rare Joseph Knibb Clock Joins Movements by

Thomas Tompion in the Fine Clocks Sale at Dreweatts

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Donnington Priory -An important and well documented early walnut eight-day longcase clock by Joseph Knibb of London leads the 90 lot offering of Fine Clocks, Barometers and Scientific Instruments to be sold at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions, Donnington Priory on 17th March.

Estimated at £40,000-60,000 the fine, early example of Knibb's work is one of the rarer small clocks by the eminent London maker, with a 9.5 inch square dial. It is also one of the first to have been made with a movement demonstrating all of the classic features one would hope to see in a clock from Knibb's workshop.

This rare small example was discovered in Oxfordshire in 1919 by the connoisseur collector Richard Arnold before passing into the famous and well documented collection of Walter Iden by 1938. After the War the clock was purchased direct from Iden by Neville Rollason who kept it at Peplow Hall Shropshire until his death in 1962. The current owner purchased it at the subsequent auction of his estate. The clock is particularly well documented - first appearing in a publication of 1922 and is now presented in essentially the same condition as it was then [Lot 86].

The name Joseph Knibb is rarely mentioned without reference to his fellow contemporary clock and watchmaker, Thomas Tompion. Clocks by Tompion are generally very expensive hence are out of the reach of most. However those looking to feature an example from his workshop in their collection may want to consider a watch movement by him which are still relatively accessible.

Dreweatts have four such movements by Tompion - two by him working alone and the other two signed in partnership with Edward Banger. All were made at the height of his career and carry estimates starting at £1,200 for an uncased timepiece movement signed by Tompion and Banger [Lot 75].

Other clocks from the 'golden period' of English clockmaking in the sale include a fine small ebony basket-top table clock by the eminent maker Henry Jones estimated at £12,000-18,000 [Lot 88] and no less than two examples by Charles Gretton. The first of these being a small early example dating to around 1680, again with basket-top, and features a very rare form of early rack striking mechanism [Lot 84]. The second is a little later in date (circa 1695) but very much retains the distinctiveness of his work [Lot 85]. Estimated at £8,000-12,000 and £4,000-6,000 respectively these two clocks will no doubt be mentioned in a forthcoming monograph on the maker.

For those with a preference for walnut, a fine William III table clock by John Boucheret of London may just be the ticket. Due to the enduring fashion for ebony, walnut veneered table clocks are particularly rare, this example is presented in fine condition and carries an estimate of £15,000-20,000 [Lot 89].

Clocks from later periods include an equally rare 'mulberry' veneered table clock by John Wady [Lot 81] and a silver mounted ebony grande sonnerie table clock by Andrew Dunlop for Daniel Delander [Lot 82]. Both of these fine examples date to around 1720 and carry estimates £8,000-12,000 and £18,000-25,000 respectively.

Nineteenth century horology is also well represented by a gilt brass giant carriage clock dating to the 1830's by the eminent partnership Arnold and Dent. Retaining its original mahogany carrying box this finely engineered piece of horology is estimated to realise £6,000-8,000 [Lot 57].

Those looking for something more decorative may want to consider the fine engraved gilt brass hump-back carriage clock attributed to the workshop of Thomas Cole estimated at £4,000-6,000 [Lot 58]. This rare hour-striking example dates to around 1845 and exhibits the finest intense engraved decoration typical of Coles best work.

The sale features several rare and interesting Continental clocks including an early (circa 1600) Swiss iron chamber clock with rare moonphase and day of the week indication estimated at £6,000-8,000 [Lot 60].

Heading the selective group of scientific instruments included in the sale is a fine late 18th century pocket globe [Lot 1]. Measuring only 7 cm in diameter this example is attributed to the eminent maker George Adams junior and is complete with its original fishskin covered case lined with celestial papers to inside. This rare object in fine original condition is estimated to realise £2,000-3,000.

The Fine Clocks, Barometers & Scientific Instruments sale will be held at Dreweatts' Donnington Priory on Tuesday 17th March 2015. The catalogue is available to view and download from www.dreweatts.com.


Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions are a UK 'top 5' auctioneer of fine art and collectibles. As part of Stanley Gibbons we are the only UK stock-exchange listed firm of auctioneers and occupy the same stable as coin specialists Baldwin's, and Frasers Autograph's. Established in 1759, we have the broadest and most regular calendar of specialist catalogued sales in the industry, numbering over 150 per annum, and provide vendors and buyers alike access to market-leading specialist advice in any number of collecting fields. We operate from salerooms in Donnington Priory (near Newbury), London's Mayfair, Bristol and Godalming.

Donnington Priory - 10th February 2015