31931  BENJAMIN LEWIS VULLIAMY NO. 758.

AN EXTREMELY ATTRACTIVE AND RARE MARBLE GILT AND BISCUIT PORCELAIN MANTEL CLOCK.  DATED 1820.

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The clock stands on a white marble base with shallow gilded bun feet. It has two sparsely clad putti in biscuit porcelain standing either side of the clock, and surrounded with gilded mathematical models and a gilded octant. At the front of the base is a gilded and beautifully engraved depiction of an embroidered cloth, and a leather bound and engraved book.

The clock is contained within a rectangular white marble case with an engraved and gilded frieze at the bottom, which is signed Vulliamy London. There are two oval Wedgewood side panels with beautifully cast and engraved gilded frames, one depicting a cherub riding on a swan and the other a seated cherub playing a harp. There is a gilded rear door. The movement pedestal is surmounted by a gilded armillary sphere with moveable rings.

The white enamel dial has gold Romen numerals and ornate and beautifully fretted gilt hands.

The eight day timepiece movement is signed and numbered on the backplate 758 Vulliamy London. It has tall relatively thick rectangular plates with six pillars. It has rise and fall for the pendulum at the top of the movement, and unusual winding via a subsidiary wheeled square mounted on the front plate in order to move the winding hole to below the dial. The numbered pendulum has a heavy brass bob and a steel rod. Most unusually for Vulliamy’s mantel clocks, this hooks onto the pendulum suspension spring so it can be easily removed for moving the clock and indeed in order to help with fitting the movement which is a very tight fit within the case.

The majority of the biscuit porcelain clocks were produced by Benjamin Vulliamy. By 1820 they were not so much in fashion but this clock, according to the Day Book, was a special order for the first owner.

The clock comes with an ebonised wooden base and glass dome. These are mentioned in the Vulliamy Day Book and could be original, although the base is at best heavily restored.

Height without dome: 13 ¼” (34 cm)
With Dome: 15 ¼” (39 cm)

Provenance

1820 Sir Charles Kent

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.

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Benjamin Lewis Vulliamy, No 758: Price £37,000

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