Raffety Fine Antique Clocks
79 Kensington Church Street | London | W8 4BG | +44 (0)20 7938 1100 | info@raffetyclocks.com


For many of us, the first topic of conversation is the weather. However, in actual fact the barometer was originally intended for measuring the weight of the air and not indicating the weather. In the early 17th century the barometer was the preserve of Scientists concerned with measuring atmospheric pressure. It was only later that the barometer assumed its role as a weather glass, once Torricelli recognised a correlation between alterations in the weight of the air and changes in the weather.

The earliest barometers were veneered in walnut and the quality of workmanship and the finesse of the best examples are consistent with the excellence of English longcase clocks and bracket clocks.

The late 16th century saw a change in the variety of woods that were being imported from the New World and barometers not only complimented the walnut furniture of the period but the taste for Chinoiserie and lacquer were also becoming extremely popular.

Occasionally one comes across examples made of bone or ivory, most famously the portable pillar barometers made by Daniel Quare. Raffety specialises is fine English and Scottish barometers and we have a number of very fine examples in our stock.

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Bracket Clocks

The term ‘Bracket Clock’ is a wide reaching one, covering the gamut of spring driven table clocks with a short pendulum. The first bracket clocks were made in 1660 and are well renowned for their exceptional quality. There was little variation in early movements, all originally had a verge escapement, most strike the hours on a bell and repeat the last hour struck, and often the quarters, when a chord attached to the movement is pulled. As the period progressed bracket clocks became more ambitious featuring elaborate musical trains and automata in the arch.

The designs and standards were high with clockmakers serving long apprenticeships and having to cope with the stringent quality controls set by the Clockmaker’s Company. Given the dedication to quality, clockmakers would commonly focus their energies on perfecting clock design and then divide the work amongst the most suitable craftsman. So, for example, the production of springs and the fusee (which maintains even distribution of power) would be apportioned to one craftsman whilst engraving of the dial and the making of the hands would be apportioned to another. The cases were bespoke from specialist makers.

These fine and exceptional clocks were really appreciated as works of art, indeed, so many early clocks are still with us is a testament to the quality of workmanship and the prescience of the clockmakers.

The early bracket clocks had architectural styles with pedimented tops and movements with count wheel strike. They were made of ebony, or were veneered in figured walnut or exotic olivewood. By the first quarter of the 18th century mahogany was being imported from the West Indies and central America. With its fine grain, colour and figure it was a wood that would remain popular for a century. Lacquer cases from 1740 to 1780 are often very fine and sought after.

Raffety specialises in fine English bracket clocks from the very beginning of their existence right through to the early years of the 19th century and some examples in our current stock can be viewed here.

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Mantel & Carriage Clocks

The early 19th century saw the emergence of the high quality smaller clock suitable for the mantelpiece or side table. The British favoured the mantel clock with a wood case generally veneered with either mahogany or rosewood, whilst the French preferred more stylish decorative ormolu cases, with enamel dials.

Subsequently, the carriage clock, or pendule de voyage, became popular, the case incorporating a carrying handle to assist with portability. The British examples were made in a bespoke manner by the leading London clockmakers. On the Continent, the French in particular, made a name for themselves by producing significant quantities of carriage clocks, the cases often engraved and enriched with porcelain or enamel decorative panels.

Raffety strives to find and offer you such examples as they become available.

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Longcase Clocks

The earliest longcase clocks were first produced in London in about 1660, though by 1700 there were a number of excellent provincial makers operating in Liverpool, Oxford and many other towns outside London. Like the bracket clock, the earliest longcase clocks boasted simple pedimented architectural hoods and were veneered in ebony, olivewood and walnut.

The advent of the longcase clock, as with the bracket clock, was largely the product of practical necessity. To run for a longer duration, clocks required heavier weights and long seconds pendulum. Therefore, tall wooden cases were devised to provide a dust free and stable home for them. The earlier movements had short bob pendulums and verge escapements. They had square dials; it wasn’t until after 1715 that clocks were produced with break arch dials, enabling the addition of moon phase and calendar indications.

Over the period the longcase clock grew in height. The early examples from the late 17th century were generally around six feet, the London examples from the 18thcentury could be seven feet or more, and were mostly made of mahogany or occasionally in walnut or lacquer with flamboyant Chinoiserie decoration. The longcase clock is regarded as representing the zenith of English clock making and here at Raffety, you can view a variety of very fine examples.

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Marine Chronometers

Until the mid-18th century marine navigation was still a relatively inexact science, in large part due to the difficulty of calculating longitudinal positioning. Navigators were, of course, able to ascertain their latitudinal position through observation of the angle of the sun at noon. However, to determine longitude, a precise, portable timekeeper was needed which would be un-effected by turbulence at sea. The chronometer was a solution to this problem. It provided a time of a fixed location, Greenwich, for example, this would serve as a reference point for determining a ships longitudinal location.

Chronometers epitomise much that is appealing about clocks, combining as they do, historical significance, mechanical complexity, inventive ingenuity and real aesthetic charm.

Here at Raffety you can view and enjoy a number of examples, some of which are illustrated here.

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Wall Clocks

This generic term covers a wide variety of domestic timepieces, first appearing on the Continent during the Renaissance and then from about 1620, the Lantern Clock began to be made here in England. These clocks were weight driven and surmounted by a large bell. Sufficient to sound the hours throughout the household!

Some hundred years later, the Tavern Clock or ‘Act of Parliament’ clock was to be seen in public places and are characterised by large legible dials, bold hands and usually very decorative chinoiserie cases. The English Dial Clock followed from about 1780 and were found in many a large country house or library and later on within offices.

In the first half of the 19th century, the Vienna Regulator was made in many cities within the Austro-Hungarian Empire and had distinctive well-proportioned and elegant case styles.

Wall Clocks vary in their complexity and casework but there can be no doubt they make a very definitive focal point for both the classic and minimalist interior of today

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The Restoration in 1660 brought many positive changes to England. The population were delighted to welcome their Monarch, Charles II, who brought many ideas from the Continent where he had been living in exile. At the end of his Charles’s reign in 1685, the French King, Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes which had guaranteed religious toleration to French Protestants. By this folly France lost many craftsmen who came to England and they brought with them skills new to the English which improved silk weaving and upholstery, stimulated silver design, revolutionised joinery and many Huguenot’s were specialist clock-case makers as well as clockmakers. We saw for the first time the emergence in England of the cabinet maker and the specialists clock case makers.

Here at Raffety we have a selection of fine early English furniture in the ‘new taste’ of woods such as patinated walnut with elaborate marquetry and olive wood of the Queen Anne and George I period, to the later mahogany which dominated the later period of the Hanoverians’, which by that time, was the most creative period in our history. The collection here relates to this period of fine craftsmanship, design and colour.

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P.O. BOX 120 CREDITON DEVON EX17 9BG | Telephone : 020 7938 1100 | Email: info@raffetyclocks.com
P.O. BOX 120 CREDITON DEVON EX17 9BG Telephone : 020 7937 2220 Email: info@raffetyclocks.com