William Webster, Exchange Alley, London.
A fine and rare George III mahogany grande sonnerie striking table clock. The Ellicott style figured mahogany case with gilt brass carrying handle, gilt brass engraved side frets and gilt brass mouldings. The engraved and silvered eight inch square dial with strike-silent lever revealed when the door is opened, signed Wm. Webster London. Blued steel hands, hexagon fitting for the hour hand. The substantial seven pillar three train Grande Sonnerie movement striking the quarters on six bells followed by the hour. Original verge and crown wheel escapement, a beautiful foliate engraved backplate signed William Webster Exchange Alley London.
Date circa 1770
Height 18 ins (45 cm)
This clock was made by William Webster, an eminent maker who was Master of the Clockmakers Company in 1755. He was apprenticed to his father, also William Webster who was an apprentice and journeyman to Thomas Tompion.
Grande sonnerie clocks strike the hour after every quarter and are very rare, Thomas Tompion is known to have made three grande sonnerie longcase clocks. The requirements of a grande sonnerie clock are very demanding as the hours train has to strike the bell 4,992 times during the course of eight days, compared to a conventional clock which has to strike only 1,248 times. The greater power needed is easier to supply on a weight driven clock than a spring driven table clock, it took great ingenuity to design a compact movement that could accurately strike the hours and quarters in this way.