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A most unusual Vulliamy mantel clock which, although in the style of many made at that time, is much larger than normal. The case is made of mona marble which was one of the more unusual marbles used by the maker, and was mined in Anglesey. It takes the usual form of a wide stepped base rising up to a central drum for the dial and movement with large beautifully detailed and chased lions on each side and surmounted by an eagle. The lions, unlike the most of the others known, have delicate chasing to represent the fur . This could have been a special request by the first owner. Both the front and sides of the base have intricate gilded mounts with scrollwork, cherubs and griffins.

The gilded dial of the clock has raised polished numerals to the matted chapter ring with an engine turned centre. The bezel is typically in the form of an ouroboros which in Greek and Egyptian mythology has the meaning of infinity.

The eight day chain fusee movement has a half deadbeat escapement and rise and fall regulation used extensively by Vulliamy to adjust the timekeeping from the dial. It is of usual fine quality and is signed for the maker on the backplate Vulliamy London 876. The steel rod and heavy brass bobbed pendulum is also numbered 876.

As mentioned earlier, the clock is unusual in having a base width of 18″ and a height of 12″ to the top of the eagle. The lions and the eagle are far larger than those seen on the more normal smaller clocks.

The Day Book record is almost a full page long and indicates that the clock, which was sold in May 1826 to the Marquis of Chandos, was probably a special order. The cost of producing the clock was in excess of 32 Pounds. An extremely large amount of money in 1826.

Height to top of eagle: 12″ (30.5 cm)

Benjamin Lewis Vulliamy was the last of a line of exceptional clockmakers in the Vulliamy family, the first of which was François Justin (always known as Justin Vulliamy), followed by his son Benjamin, and followed by his sons Benjamin Lewis and Justin Theodore.

Benjamin Lewis Vulliamy was born on the 25th January 1780, not a lot is known about his childhood except that he spent most of it at 68 Pall Mall. He joined his father in Pall Mall very early in life, certainly when less than 20 years of age. He received the Freedom of the Clockmakers’ Company in December 1809 and became a liveryman in January 1810 at the age of 30 and was admitted to the Court of Guild in the same year. There he served every office in the Court and was five times elected Master. In his years of service he did much to further the good reputation of the clockmakers’ trade and against increasing odds he succeeded in preserving high standards of craftsmanship which can be seen in almost all of the clocks that he produced.

Unlike his father’s main output, which was of ornamental house clocks and furnishing items, Benjamin Lewis tended to concentrate on using the very best of materials and workmanship in order to give long and trouble free life to his clocks.

The workforce that Vulliamy used were in many instances specialist craftsman or out workers. There were however a number of staff permanently employed at 68 Pall Mall. In particular were members of the Jump family who, after Vulliamy’s death in 1854, went on to found their own famous and very successful business.

Further Reading

Vulliamy Lions: Their designers and modellers. Roger Smith
This shows an identical size clock with the same lions ,eagle, and mounts but in bronze finish with red marble . He goes on to say that these large lions without the usual balls in their paws were modelled by James Smith and first sold on clock no 420 in 1806.

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Benjamin Lewis Vulliamy, No 876: P.O.A.

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