Anyone Fancy a Rare Clock For Three Million Quid?

A rare clock, dating from the reign of Charles II is being held in the UK, as the government hopes a buyer can be found who will keep it in the UK, rather than see it sold to an overseas collector.

Valued at £3,009,000, an exquisite and rare Fromanteel longcase clock dating to 1660 is at risk of leaving the country unless a UK buyer can be found.

The earliest surviving purpose-made longcase clock, the ebony-veneered piece is a fine example of the type of clock that was the bedrock of precise mechanical, scientific and domestic timekeeping from the late 17th century well into the 20th century. Despite restorations, the majority of the clock’s case is original and the piece is an excellent early example of the architectural form of longcase clock as it developed in this period.

Ahasuerus Fromanteel, the clock’s maker, was the first to create pendulum clocks in England and gained the notice and patronage of Oliver Cromwell, during the Interregnum.

By the way Fromanteel are still in business, they make watches in Amsterdam today. More info here. 

The Minister’s decision follows the advice of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA). The Committee agreed that it is an extremely interesting object and there is still much to understand about the clock on every level, with few of these clocks that could serve as the basis for new research.

Committee Member Pippa Shirley said:

“Many of us would recognise the familiar form of the grandfather clock, and this object is the ancestor of timepieces that have been a beloved part of British households since the late 17th century. This on its own creates a powerful argument for keeping the clock in this country as part of our national heritage, but this particular example is very important for other reasons too.

It was made by one of the pre-eminent makers of his time, a superb technical innovator, who alongside clockwork was fascinated by other scientific instruments, including optical lenses, who invented an early version of the fire extinguisher, and who was working at a moment when London was emerging as a leading international mercantile centre.

The elegant, restrained, architectural appearance of the case with its columns, pediment and beautiful decorative gilded mounts is also important, with possible links to John Webb, the architect who was in large part responsible for the introduction of elements of classical vocabulary to building design. There are also strong connections to an important historical family through Henry Howard, Earl of Arundel, which need to be further understood. The clock offers multiple avenues for further research and understanding of this highly important field and moment in our history, all of which would be better explored if it remains in this country, as we very much hope it will.”

The Committee made its recommendation on the grounds that the clock’s departure from the UK would be a misfortune because it is of outstanding significance for the study of the golden age of English clockmaking in the 17th century.

The decision on the export licence application for the clock will be deferred until 13 March 2022. At the end of the first deferral period owners will have a consideration period of 15 Business Days to consider any offer(s) to purchase the clock at the recommended price of £3,009,000 (inclusive of VAT). The second deferral period will commence following the signing of an Option Agreement and will last for four months.

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