Saturday, December 19, 2009

Guest house grandfather clock sells for £400,000

A grandfather clock that was a conversation piece in Lake District guest house turned-out to be a rare example that has sold for more than £400,000.

The ebony veneer "long clock" was made in London around 1670 by Dutch-born Ahasuerus Fromanteel, who built the first-ever precise pendulum clocks in England.

It went into a sale at Bonhams auction rooms in London with an estimate of up to £150,000 but went under the hammer for £400,800, to an un-named collector.

Bonhams sold the timepiece on behalf of the owners of a Lakeland guest house where it arrived after spending 100 years measuring time at a house in rural France.

Despite its travels the 5ft 9inch tall clock is in fine, original condition with the ebony veneered case intact along and with exquisite mouldings to the hood, trunk and sides.

A Bonhams spokesman said: "Without doubt, had this clock been known to the great horological historians of the past, it would have featured in many of the standard reference works and exhibitions as a wonderful, largely untouched, example of the formative years of the English pendulum clock.

"The clock recently returned to the UK having graced a family home in the South of France since around the time of the second World War.

"The vendors family have their roots in the North of England and inside the hood, written in pencil at the back of the tympanum is "W Rogers, Cook St. L'pool, July 1885, JW"

James Stratton, Head of Bonhams Clock Department says: "This is a fantastic result. This clock was made while the ashes from the great fire of London were still cooling.

"Impeccable provenance, rarity and immaculate construction all make this a collector?s piece and a fantastic investment.

"The best of the best will continue to demand a premium price - which has proven to be the story of this recession.

"The estimate of £100,000 - £150,000 paid tribute to the lot?s historical value but even we were surprised by the level of interest.

"Without doubt, had this clock been known to the great horological historians of the past, it would have featured in many of the standard reference works and exhibitions as a wonderful, largely untouched, example of the formative years of the English pendulum clock."

Historic records show that the Fromanteel family produced the first pendulum clocks in England, following the visit of Fromanteel?s son John to Holland.

He learned to make the new-style clocks from Salomon Coster who had an agreement with Christiaan Huygens to use his orignal idea.

It meant clocks had became accurate enough to have minute hands for the first time.

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