Robert Gregory, Londini Fecit. A floral and bird marquetry decorated longcase clock featuring a rising hood. YY78

Robert Gregory is listed in Brian Loomes Clockmakers and Watchmakers of the World as a member of the Clockmaker Company in 1678 – 1697. He served his apprenticeship under Henry Crumpe which he started about 1670. Robert died in Abington (Berks) in 1700.

In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, the English clockmakers were recognized universally as producing the best clock movements and watches. As a result, countries that included Turkey, Spain, Portugal France and Russia all imported English clocks.

This case has typical proportions for a clock made during this early time period. Clocks of this period tend to be narrow in their proportions and are typically constructed on a smaller scale as compared to examples made just 20 years later. This example stands approximately 6 feet 7.5 inches or 79.5 inches tall and is 19.25 inches wide at the widest molding. It represents one of the first forms designed with a 10.5 inch square dial and was made circa 1690.

The case is constructed in oak and is decoratively veneered in richly figured walnut. The complex floral inlaid decoration is a form of marquetry. This is a highly skilled process of inlaying decorative patterns into the forward facing surfaces. Separate pieces of veneer, often colored, are laid out in decorative patterns. Marquetry decorated tall case clocks were all the rage in London up until about 1715. This example features numerous floral patterns that are presented in panels. The floral themes include roses, carnations and tulips. The top panel also features a bird. The sides of the case are veneered in figured walnut panels. The walnut veneers were selected for their excellent grain structure. Please note the uneven surface of this design caused by the shifting of the oak substructure due to shrinkage. This is a tell tale sign that this case has age and is not a reproduction.

The fine example stands flat to the floor on an applied molding that is attached to the base section. A floral pattern is featured in the section. The lower section of which has been professionally restored. This is not uncommon. Clocks of this period experienced decades of cold damp floors and wet mops. The restoration work is well done. The base molding that transitions to the waist section is an og form. The waist section is fitted with a rectangular shaped waist door. This door is quite large and fills the waist section. It is trimmed with an applied half round molding that is treated with an eboized finish. This door is formatted with three individual inlaid floral themed panels. They are carefully balanced on either side of the circular cut out which is trimmed in brass and fitted with glass. This window feature is called a lenticle. Its purpose is to allow one to view the motion of the brass pendulum bob with out having to open the door of the clock. It also informs the admirer of this clock that this example is fitted with a long pendulum. The long pendulum would have been somewhat new technology for this early period of clockmaking and would suggest that this clock is a much more accurate time keeper than the examples made 15 years earlier. Open the waist door and one can easily access the two brass covered drive weights and the rating nut at the bottom of the brass pendulum bob. The sides of this case are decoratively finished. They are formatted with panels as was the tradition of many London cabinetmakers. The bonnet is and early style and is supported by a convex waist molding that is decorated with floral inlays. The operation of the hood is unusual and is termed a rising hood. The entire hood is designed to lift straight up and over the movement. This process is necessary when winding the clock and setting the time. This hood does not have a hinged hood door. It does have glass that is fitted into a frame that protects the dial. The frame is inlaid with floral inlays. The sides and the back corners of the hood are fitted with barley twisted columns. These are treated with an ebonized finish. Above the dial window is a section that features a blind fret pattern that is done in brass. It is backed in a green colored silk. Glass rectangular side lights are positioned on each side of the hood.

The 10.5 inch square dial is brass and features applied decorations in the form of spandrels, time ring and seconds ring. The engraved chapter ring frames the matted center on the dial. This center section is textured in an attempt to make the finely formed steel hands more visible when viewing the dial. The month calendar, which is framed with decorative engraving. The primary theme includes three crowns. The subsidiary seconds dial is located above the center arbor. The winding arbors and the seconds hole are decorated with ring turnings. The applied time ring is engraved with an interior minute ring, Roman hour numerals, a separate minute ring located out side the hours and five minute markers which are an Arabic form. The time ring along with the seconds ring and calendar are silvered. Four heavily cast brass spandrels are applied to the corners of the dial. They are in the form of twin cherubs holding a Maltese cross. This clock is signed on the time ring by the Maker along with his working location. The hands are beautiful and intricately pierced. Their edges are nicely shaped.

The weight driven movement is constructed in brass and is designed to run eight-days on a full wind and to strike each hour on a bell which is mounted above the movement. The strike train features a count-wheel in its design. The count wheel is attached to the back of the winding barrel. Both winding barrels are grooved. Five knobbed and finned turned pillars support the large brass plates. The escapement is a recoil design and features a seconds length pendulum. Overall, this movement is excellent quality. The fact that it survives today in excellent working order is proof of this.

This clock was made circa 1690.

YY-78

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