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Lot 706 - 07 Nov 2017

Autumn Fine Auction


A rare eight-day mantel chronometer
By John Roger Arnold, London, No. 619, circa 1830
In a Derbyshire 'Ashford' marble case attributed to John Mawe

With gilt engine-turned bezel, beneath an associated glazed push-on bezel, with lacquered brass drum-shaped case; the 3¾in. white enamel dial signed 'Arnold London' and with eight-day power reserve indicatot, seconds subsidiary, and numbered 619, with gold Breguet hour and minute hands, the eight-day chain fusée movement signed 'Jno. Arnold / London / Invt. Et Fecit No 619 ', with Harrison's maintaining power, within semi-elliptical plates, the escapement carriage with blued steel helical spring, J. R. Arnold's U + I bi-metallic balance with diamond endpiece and Earnshaw spring detent escapement, a circular countersunk recess to the plate with blank locating holes and two screw-holes, blued steel screws; within a black marble case with a turned drum-shaped surround, on block foot, raised on a stepped plinth, the front diamond engraved with a Bacchic figure pouring wine, the sides each engraved with a griffin, (1 key)

37cm high overall. Illustrated

Possibly, Admiral Sir Thomas Pakenham, GCB (1757-1836)
More likely, his son, Vice Admiral John Pakenham (1790-1876)
Thence by descent through the Pakenham family to the current vendor.

John Roger Arnold (1769-1843), the son of John Arnold, learnt his craft in his father's business and also working for Abraham-Louis Breguet in Paris. The Arnolds were in business as 'Arnold & Son' from 1787 until the father's death in 1799. John Roger continued with the business and entered into partnership in 1830 with Edward John Dent, an agreement which lasted 10 years.

In Vaudrey Mercer's John Arnold & Son, London 1972, he mentions that No. 620 'would appear to be the end of this series up to the year 1830' (the start of the Arnold & Dent partnership). Plate 174 shows the third version of the J. R. Arnold balance, which this chronometer has. Designed with a non-ferrous bi-metallic bar, formed from silver and platinum, and probably used experimentally by the partnership.

In the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers' Library (held in the Guildhall Library) is a household financial daybook from the Arnolds covering the period 1796 - October 1830. October 1830 is significant as the month in which the Arnold & Dent partnership was formally started. Intriguingly, Arnold's penned entry for 7 January 1830 in the account book is 'Mawe for marble cases'. It was probably not the first transaction between these two businesses, especially taking into account their proximity to each other in the Strand. Perhaps it was Mawe who would have supplied Arnold with his jewels for pallets, endpieces and balances? It is worth noting here, Arnold's use of the fine engine-turned bezel, which recalls his Paris training, as he would have seen such decoration incorporated there.

John Mawe was the proprietor of the renowned mineral shop at 149 Strand, just a short walk from the Arnolds at 84 Strand. Established in 1811, Mawe had travelled the world and his shop would have been well-known to Arnold.

Mawe (b. 1764 Derby) was apprenticed to the Derby mason Richard Brown (d. 1816) and married his daughter Sarah in 1794. They established a retail business near Covent Garden at the end of the 18th century called Brown & Mawe, selling objects created from Derbyshire marble and minerals, including 'Blue John', from the factory in Derby.

The pedestal base is finely engraved, most probably with a diamond and would suggest Anne Rayner (b.1802-1890) as the artist. In her 1876 work English Female Artists, Ellen Crayton recorded that "Mrs Rayner was distinguished in early life for her beautiful engravings on black marble". Her work is rare, examples can be seen at the Buxton Art Gallery, as well as Chatsworth.

Mawe died in 1829, and the Strand business was continued by his wife, who held the official title of 'Mineralogist to the Queen'. Their apprentice, James Tennant (d. 1881), continued with the business after her retirement during which time he oversaw the cutting of the Koh-i-Noor for the Great Exhibition.

No doubt the Pakenham Admirals would have been well aware of Arnold's reputation and would have seen his chronometers used under their commands. It would have been second-nature to ask Mr. Arnold for a version that could be used as a mantel timepiece, as this eight-day chronometer does not appear to have been mounted in gimbals and boxed.
In Staeger's book he lists 619 and gives a reference to a sale at Christie's as '11/1978'. There was no Arnold chronometer in this sale (Christie's King Street 22 November 1978).

Rupert T. Gould, The Marine Chronometer, London, 1973
Vaudrey Mercer, John Arnold & Son, Chronometer Makers, 1762-1843, London 1972
Hans Staeger, 100 Jahre Präzisionsuhren von John Arnold bis Arnold & Frodsham 1763-1862, Stuttgart, 1997
Peak District Mines Historical Society, Vol. 11, Number 6, Winter 1992

Condition report

PLEASE NOTE; In the footnote, we indicated the pedestal base wasengraved - we apologise, it is etched with the designs.

The are some chips consistent with age to the marble case. The bowl is secured to the drum by three locating lugs and then with a panel to the reverse, held in place by two screws. Currently the bowl is removed from the case for convenience. The push-on bezel and glass may be later, but certainly 19th century. There is a rebated flank in the engine turned bezel, which may have been designed for the glass. The enamel dial is cracked at 11.30 and with a slight hairline just by the VII. Some spotting in he firing. There is a slight knock to the enamel within the seconds ring, just by the '9' of 619. There appears to be a line indentation issuing in two directions from this knock, but no evident crack. The hour hand has been bent and re-shaped. The bowl does not show any evidence of previous gimbal mounts or filled holes for these. The movement is in running order. There is a vacant recess cut to the escapement plate. (1 key)

Estimate £2,000 - £3,000
Sold For £5,000