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A good, verge escapement bracket clock by John Joseph Merlin, London. Circa 1780.

It would be difficult to surpass the pedigree of such a clock of this period as the maker was considered to be a multi-talented genius. He notably worked with Cox to make the famous 'Swan' automaton.

Stock No:   14362

The substantial, five pillar, double fusee movement with Verge escapement, attached pendulum rod with pear-drop bob and rack striking the hours on a top-mounted bell. There are also the added features of Strike/Silent, pull repeat striking and calendar datework to the arch of the dial. The backplate is profusely and well engraved with a floral Rococo, intertwining design that is typical of this maker.

The 7 1/2" wide, break-arch brass dial has ornate cast brass corner and arch spandrels and brass ring-framed enamel time and arch date dials. The calendar date dial has Arabic numerals around the divided ring and the main dial has Arabic outer fives, a divided minute ring, inner Roman hour numerals and ringed centre that bears the maker's name "MERLIN" of "LONDON" above and below centre in a concentric arc. The pierced and shaped steel hands are well executed.

The large 'Bell-top' ebonised case is adorned with cast brass ornamentation. The bell top having a brass plate surmounted by a large pineapple finial and the moulded sections are devided with brass framing. The front bears a floral motif and the four corners are topped with smaller pineapple finials. There is a return moulding above the main body. This has chamfered corners bearing cast brass caryatids. Both doors have pierced brass sound frets to the top quarters that are backed in gold silk and the break-arch glazing is framed with brass quadrant. The case sides have circle-over-rectangle glazed apertures which are also glazed and framed with brass quadrant. The upper sides bear cast swinging carrying handles. The main body terminates with conforming ebonised moulding which is skirted with a brass plinth upon four splayed Ogee feet.

These repeating clocks with a strike/silent feature were sometimes taken to the bedchamber at night and placed in silent mode using the selector hand. The clock would not then strike the hours and awaken the owner but he could simply pull the repeat cord in the darkness and the clock would strike the last hour. It is for this reason that they were originally fitted with the more robust 'Verge' escapement and even though there is a 'holdfast' in which to place the pendulum during transit, it was rarely used as time would be lost so, the clock was grabbed by the handles and carried up to bed - still ticking! Once seen, these clocks really fire the imagination as to their history and usage, they were extremely expensive when made and could only be afforded by the wealthy. This is well-priced for a good example of an original clock that is becoming ever rarer.

* John Joseph Merlin was apparently true to his name as he was indeed considered to be a wizard. The following link illustrates the incredible life of him and also displays his portrait: John Joseph Merlin

Dimensions:                             23 1/2" high x 14 1/2" wide x 9 1/2" deep.

Circa:                                       1780.

Provenence:                             Purchased from a private collection.

Condition report:                      This whole clock is in surprisingly good and original condition. The backcock
                                                 apron and the pendulum holdfast have been replaced presumably because
                                                 of damage. The enamel dials are good and the case appears to have been
                                                 'refreshed' by a restorer but remains worn. The movement is in working
                                                 order but has not been overhauled in recent years.

Price:                                        The intended fully restored retail price is £14,000 however, this clock can be
                                                 purchased in its present condition for 50% less for only £7,000.

A good, verge escapement bracket clock by John Joseph Merlin, London. Circa 1780.
  • A good, verge escapement bracket clock by John Joseph Merlin, London. Circa 1780.
  • A good, verge escapement bracket clock by John Joseph Merlin, London. Circa 1780.
  • A good, verge escapement bracket clock by John Joseph Merlin, London. Circa 1780.
  • A good, verge escapement bracket clock by John Joseph Merlin, London. Circa 1780.
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