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  • Holmes longcase
  • Holmes Longcase hood
  • Holmes longcase receipt

Holmes, London

A fine and rare George III mahogany longcase clock with enamel dials. Circa 1802


Figured mahogany break arch case with fine mouldings and hood door flanked by stop fluted, reeded and canted corners and fish scale side panels. Surmounted by a four sided concave pedestal with brass ball and flame finial. The break arch trunk door with flame veneers matching the raised panel to the base with double plinth.


The 12 inch break arch brass dial with gilt rococo spandrels and enamel subsidiary dial with strike/silent to the arch with blued steel hand. The enamel chapter with Roman and Arabic numerals, signed Holmes, 156 Strand, London, with original blued steel hands.


The eight-day movement striking the hours on a bell with five pillars to the plates, original anchor escapement with offset pivoted crutch, large double roller suspension backcock. The original brass S hooks on the original brass pulley wheels attached to the original brass cased lead weights. With original Ludlum type wood rod pendulum, large lead bob and brass engraved spherical bob, for fine adjustment to the timekeeping.

Height 7ft 5 ins (228 cm)


Remarkably this clock has its original receipt from June 18th 1802 to George Wollaston for £17.9.6

George Wollaston’s brother William Hyde Wollaston discovered the chemical elements palladium and rhodium and also invented the camera lucida.

John Holmes (1727-1797), was apprenticed to Henry Hindley of York in 1743. At the end of his apprenticeship, around 1750, he moved to London and lodged in Holborn with his second cousin, John Smeaton, the instrument maker, horologist and civil engineer responsible for Eddystone lighthouse. In 1760 Holmes moved with his young family to new premises in The Strand, just east of Somerset House, where he was to remain for the rest of his life. A fine and innovative maker, he was particularly well connected in the horological world in London during the second half of the 18th century. He maintained his close association with John Smeaton and corresponded with Cambridge astronomer and mathematician Rev William Ludlam. After his death in 1797 the business was continued by his wife and two of his sons until it finally closed in 1816.

This flame mahogany longcase clock is very much in the style of Thomas Mudge’s design, having a hood with no pillars and a single finial mounted on a base. In the mid 1740's Thomas Mudge had generated a completely new style of case design for his longcase clocks. The new pillarless cases of refined and classical proportions were soon taken up by many other clockmakers, initially by those also around Fleet Street as in this example by John Holmes. Enamel dials in longcase clocks are rare and were used by the finest clockmakers for some of their very best clocks. Most dials of longcase clocks from this period have suffered damage, so it is even rarer to see a dial in the condition of this one.