An important Queen Anne ebonised eight-day longcase clock
Michael Knight, London, circa 1705
The substantial five fully latched and crisply turned finned pillar rack and bell striking movement with anchor escapement regulated by seconds pendulum with long crutch, the backplate with apertures cut for the pallets and for viewing the countwheel locking detent, with finely detailed steelwork incorporating Tompionesque scroll terminals to bell stand and hammer spring feet, the 12 inch square brass dial with subsidiary seconds dial, ringed calendar aperture and winding holes to the matted centre within applied silvered Roman numeral chapter ring with cruciform half hour markers, Arabic five minutes to outer track and signed MICH KNIGHT, LONDINI FECIT to lower edge, with pierced steel hands and double-screwed gilt twin cherub and crown cast spandrels to angles with foliate scroll engraved infill to margins between, the ebonised case with gilt brass ball finials to the ogee shaped caddy surmounted fine foliate fretwork fronted box upstand above moulded cornice and further conforming foliate pierced fret to frieze, generous three-quarter columns with gilt caps and bases to glazed hood door, the sides with rectangular sound frets and rear quarter columns each set against bargeboard rising up to the underside of the cornice projection, the trunk with convex throat above 41.5 inch rectangular door, on ogee moulded plinth base applied with two-tier moulded skirt, 245cm (96.5ins) high excluding finials, 252cm (99.25ins) high overall.
Michael Knight is recorded in Loomes, Brian Clockmakers of Britain 1286-1700 as born circa 1659; he was apprenticed to Thomas Tompion (bound 1673/4 through Lionel Wythe) and took up his freedom of the Clockmakers Company after a warning to do so in 1681. Michael Knight took apprentices Thomas Day in 1682 (Freed 1691), Robert Youell (through Tompion - Freed 1697) and John Barnardiston in 1697 (Freed 1714). In 1697 Knight signed the Oath of Allegiance but little is known of him after 1699 when he stopped paying quarterage to the Clockmakers Company. The location of Michael Knight's workshop is indicated in an article by Evans, Jeremy MAINSPRING MAKERS OF LONDON AND LIVERPOOL - SOME OBSERVATIONS AND LISTS published in ANTIQUARIAN HOROLOGY Vol. XXVII, No. 1, Page 81 where reference under the entry for Micklewright indicates that the latter was believed to have been working in St. Sepulchres - 'in Red Cross Court next-door but one to Tompion's ex-apprentice Michael Knight'.
Of Michael Knight only around ten surviving clocks are known listed in Evans, Jeremy; Carter, Jonathan and Wright, Ben THOMAS TOMPION, 300 YEARS. Most of these examples demonstrate a very close working relationship with Tompion with at least two reflecting an aptitude for producing work equal to Tompion's finest products. The first of these is a fine half quarter-repeating ebony table clock of typical 'Tompion phase II' design illustrated in ANTIQUARIAN HOROLOGY Vol X, No. 7, on Pages 782-83. The second is an important eight-day longcase clock (in a private collection) complete with Tompion pull-quarter repeat mechanism and housed in a fine walnut case closely resembling that of the 'Drayton Tompion' (which now resides at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge and is illustrated by Evans, Carter and Wright on page 510). When considering the strong similarity of Knight's work alongside that of his former Master coupled with the fact that there are very few clocks signed by him (despite his long career) it most likely that he was primarily employed by Tompion. Indeed the complexity and accomplished nature of the two examples noted above would suggest that he assisted Tompion with his more complex commissions.
The movement of the current lot is almost indistinguishable from Tompion's work exhibiting an abundance of features diagnostic of his workshop. These include the back cock casting (with distinctive chamfered feet), pallet and countwheel locking detent viewing apertures to backplate and distinctive scroll-shaped tails to the hammer spring and bell stand. As with Tompion's work the movement is fully latched with fine knopped and finned pillars and the wheelwork precisely executed with shallow domed collets. The escapement of the present clock is also particularly noteworthy as it appears to be a rare original survivor. The dial departs a little from 'standard' Tompion design having ringed winding holes and calendar aperture to the matted centre. The bold signature engraved in block capitals appears to be typical of Knight and can be compared to that of the ebony 'phase II' type table clock described above.
The case again is essentially indistinguishable of those housing movements and dials by Tompion made at this time exhibiting the fine proportions and detailing for which his workshop was known. The current lot affords the prospective purchaser the opportunity to essentially acquire a clock that is essentially a 'Tompion' in all but name. Indeed from a documentary point of view it would be reasonable to suggest that this clock perhaps has more to offer than a comparable signed by Tompion.
The movement is in fine clean working condition and appears essentially all-original,
The dial is also in fine condition with slight mellowing to the silvered finish and the gilding to the plate. The hands are well made and probably original.
The movement sits on an old thick oak seatboard which may be original, the movement securing bracket to the backplate lines-up with the corresponding tab to the case backboard supporting the view that the movement and dial are original to the case.
The case is in fine overall condition. The caddy/superstructure to the hood is correct and appears to have significant age however we cannot rule out the possibility that it is a well executed restoration. The frets to the superstructure and frieze are of fine quality and appear old/original with the usual shrinkage to be expected.
The tips of the upper cornice mouldings at the rear have been filed at an angle to allow the clock to stand in a corner.
The trunk is in sound condition with the only noticeable faults being some historic worm trails (worm long gone) to some of the mouldings and to the fruitwood veneer of the trunk door which also has a very slight vertical hairline crack. The trunk door has a very slight warp (the appearance of which can probably be reduced by packing the hinges). The inside of the trunk has two patch inserts where the pendulum bob swings (probably to repair slight scooping out to allow clearance of the pendulum bob). The plinth has very slight horizontal shrinkage cracking, the structure appears old hence is probably original however we cannot rule out very well executed restoration in this area.
Finish nas a few light bumps, scuffs, historic wear and mildew commensurate with age.
Clock is complete with pendulum, weights, winding key and case key.
CONDITION REPORT DISCLAIMER
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