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This particular method of Grande Sonnerie striking, which has been used on this clock, is ingenious and probably the most complex employed by Knibb. To reduce the number of blows of the hammer, and thus the power required to a minimum, double six-hour striking is employed – (in this method, normal striking was employed from 1 to 6 and then repeated again from 7 to 12, thus saving 36 strikes in a 12 hour period). This reduces the number of blows powered by one train for the hours at the quarters from 3714 to 2016 over eight days. The other train provides the power for the quarters and the full hour striking, which involves 2400 blows every eight days.


The beautifully conceived movement has ten latched pillars, a front plate split into three for ease of assembly, external count wheels for the hours and quarters and an anchor escapement. A large and a small bell are provided. The pendulum, with a brass rod and threaded bob, has a butterfly nut above the back-cock for regulation. A bracket (re-instated) fixes the movement to the case.


The 10” dial, which is signed along the bottom edge ‘Joseph Knibb Londini Fecit’, has wheatear engraving to its border, cherub spandrels and latched feet. The finely skeletonised chapter ring has quarter and half-hour marks with every minute numbered.


The case, the proportions of which are typical of Knibb at this period, is surmounted by a carved cresting with a shell motif to the centre, which is unusually mounted separately, which makes one wonder if originally a crest was fitted there. Spiral twist columns are employed, and there is a convex mould beneath the hood, which lifts up.

The trunk door, which is surrounded by a half-round mould, is decorated with olive-wood oyster veneers. To the centre is a cross-banded ring, within which are small pieces of olive wood.


Joseph Knibb – B.1640 – D.1711

Joseph Knibb was one of the most celebrated clockmakers of his day and was highly admired by Charles II, for whom he made several fine clocks.

Joseph was apprentice to his cousin Samuel Knibb in 1655 at Newport Pagnell, and after his seven-year apprenticeship, he then moved to Oxford in 1662, whilst Samuel moved to London the same year. It was far from an easy move, when he arrived in the city he was thought of as a foreigner by the freeman traders of the city who objected to his presence. It is thought that he traded without permission until, upon payment of a fine in 1668, he was then free to carry out his business without hindrance. It was at this time he was most interested in the development of the anchor escapement and seconds pendulum for timekeeping accuracy – of which this particular clock is a fine example of his efforts.

In 1670 he moved to London, this could have been because of his accurate clocks or it could possibly be to do with Samuels death. Either way, immediately after setting up business in the city, he was granted the freedom of the Clockmakers’ Company. He was quick to become established in London with a very distinctive style along with several notable inventions. Apart from producing consistently high-quality work, Joseph was imaginative, inventive and had an excellent eye for proportion. He had many apprentices and was elected as Steward of the Clockmakers’ Company in August 1984 and then Assistant in 1689.

By the time he retired in 1697, his business is believed to have made over four hundred clocks, proving that he was an illustrious businessman during his time in London. He retired to Hanslop, where he still made clocks, only not on such a large scale. He died in December 1711.

Comparative Literature: The Knibb Family Clockmakers by R. A. Lee
Serviced and guaranteed for 3 years.
Height: 83″ or 211 cm (Including crest)
Width: 17 ½” or 44 cm
Depth: 10″ or 25 cm
CIRCA. 1675

Provenance: Private collection, UK

The clock was formerly in the collection of Viscount Hereford and was sold by Sotheby’s on 13th October 1988 and again on 14th December 2006.


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