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Bracket clock
  • Bracket clock
    Tompion, Thomas, born 1639 - died 1713
  • Enlarge image

Bracket clock

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1690 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Tompion, Thomas, born 1639 - died 1713 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Case of oak, veneered with ebony, with gilt-bronze mounts

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 56, The Djanogly Gallery, case 5

Object Type
This bracket clock is signed by Thomas Tompion on the back plate and numbered '35' at the top left inside a scroll. Tompion numbered most of his clocks and a date sequence has been worked out by specialists using these numbers. This number is consistent with a date of manufacture around 1690.

The movement has a gong train with a large spring, barrel fusee and pendulum. It is also fitted with a complex repeating mechanism. If the cords attached to two short arms at the back of the clock are pulled, the hour and quarter hour are struck on two bells of different pitch. The case is of oak and a measure of the quality of Tompion's workmanship is the use of an ebony veneer of unusual thickness.

Thomas Tompion (1639-1713) was the leading English clockmaker of the period. He introduced some important innovations, including some of the first watches with balance springs and also complex repeating mechanisms for clocks. All his clocks and watches are of outstanding quality. A contemporary recorded that Tompion could get as much as £10 for his clocks, whereas other clockmakers could only get £4 to £6.

Ownership & Use
The owner of this clock was from the French family of Lefort des Ylouses and came from Boulogne. A family story records that the clock was first acquired by a member who had been a French prisoner of war during the Napoleonic wars. He was presumably a senior officer on parole, and thus wealthy enough to buy such a clock.

Place of Origin

London (made)


ca. 1690 (made)


Tompion, Thomas, born 1639 - died 1713 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Case of oak, veneered with ebony, with gilt-bronze mounts

Marks and inscriptions

The back-plate is signed THO.TOMPION FECIT and numbered '35' at the top left inside a scroll


Height: 35.5 cm with handle up, Width: 23.5 cm maximum at base, including feet, Depth: 16.2 cm maximum at base, including feet

Object history note

Made in London and signed by Thomas Tompion (born in Bedfordshire, 1639, died in London, 1713)

Labels and date

British Galleries:
This type of clock has a short pendulum that makes it small enough to sit on a shelf, or bracket. These clocks were first made in The Netherlands in 1657, and British makers soon adopted the form. Thomas Tompion, a member of the Royal Society, made highly fashionable clocks and watches. [27/03/2003]


Clocks & Watches


Metalwork Collection

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