John Ismay's earliest Wigton clock as a professional clockmaker. A wonderfully interesting early religious versed wall clock by John Ismay of Wigton, near Wigton. Photograph by Lee Borrett.
Wigton Fecit, c1718
The fabulous early religious versed clock illustrated here, is an exceptionally rare example by John Ismay of Wigton and is probably his earliest known Wigton clock. Originally made to just sit on a wall bracket to show off its large brass lantern movement - it survives today in a very original condition throughout. It is housed in its original rustic pine longcase which was probably made within about 20 years of the clocks making of c1718. At the same time of being housed in its pine case, spandrels were added to the four corners and in doing so - hid the verse MEMENTO MORI in the top two corners. There is also a very rare verse engraved to the dial centre that reads:- ' Shun Sin least thou Lament, When Precious Time is Spent, And Death to the(e) is Sent, No Time then to Repent.' - From surviving known clocks by John Ismay - we now know that he numbered his earliest Wigton clocks. Here we can see that he numbered this example No.1 on the back of the dial - which is hidden by the date calendar wheel. Other 30-hour clocks by John Ismay of Wigton have come to light bearing the numbers 5 and 7
Above. Showing the wonderfully interesting John Ismay dial. Spandrels were probably added around c1735 - c1740 when the clock was housed in its primitive pine longcase Photograph by Lee Borrett.
Above. Showing a close-up of the John Ismay polished dial centre with the religious verse that reads:- ' Shun Sin least thou Lament, When Precious Time is Spent, And Death to the(e) is Sent, No Time then to Repent.' Photograph by Lee Borrett.
Above. A close-up of the John Ismay's signature 'John Ismay, Wigton Fecit'. Photograph by Lee Borrett.
Above. Showing a close-up of the top right hand corner spandrel which is the twin cherub with crossed mace design. The spandrels were added by the owners in about c1735-40 when the clock was at the same time housed in its then new primitive pine case as seen below. The spandrel which is hiding some of John Ismay's engraving still has remains of its original gilding. Photograph by Lee Borrett.
Above. Showing the John Ismay dial with the spandrels removed which reveal the top two versed corners and bottom two blank corners. The spandrel holes have been filled in using photoshop - just to show how the dial looked between c1718-c1735 before being cased by the then owners of the clock. Photograph by Lee Borrett.
Above. The top left hand corner has arrow head markings by the side of the word 'MEMENTO'. Photograph by Lee Borrett.
Above. The top right hand corner the word 'MORI' plus a spiral engraving. Photograph by Lee Borrett.
Above. Behind the dial and hidden under the date ring calendar wheel is the engraved number 1. Photograph by Lee Borrett.
Above. Showing a rear view of the John Ismay iron and brass birdcage movement. Note the beautifully turned brass movement pillars and fancily shaped back-cock. Photograph by Lee Borrett.
Above. Showing an angled view of the John Ismay iron and brass birdcage movement. Photograph by Lee Borrett.
Above. Showing a side view of the John Ismay iron and brass birdcage movement. Photograph by Lee Borrett.
Above. Showing theTop-Pate of the John Ismay movement. Typically on these early Wigton School clocks the movement is fixed on the top plate to the dial by two pins. Photograph by Lee Borrett.
Above. Showing another view of the John Ismay top plate. Photograph by Lee Borrett.
The Pine Case
Above. Showing the John Ismay clock housed in it's original primitive pine longcase. Originally this clock would have been made by John Ismay to sit on a simple wall bracket and was then housed in this primitive pine case around c1735-c1740 (Now stained, it would originally have been painted.) and at the same time spandrels were probably added. Photograph by Lee Borrett.
Below. Showing the original turnbuckle on the inside of the trunk door. Photograph by Lee Borrett.
This clock is an historically important surviver for the Wigton area and may well be John Ismay's earliest known Wigton signed clock.
John Ismay was born at Thursby, a village near Wigton in Cumberland, in March 1699. He was apprenticed to John Ogden at Bowbridge in 1711, and was living in Tiffinthwaite at the time of his death in 1755. Today there are only a handful of religious versed clocks known to survive by him with the example shown here being his earliest!
Brian Loomes is the authority on John Sanderson and The Wigton 'School' of Clockmaking. His book 'Brass Dial Clocks' has a whole chapter on The Wigton School. This book is a must for collectors interested in this subject. Much of the above information on 'The Wigton School' was taken from the book, along with an article written for Clocks Magazine of April 2006, also by Brian Loomes. I have however included additional information on clocks and newly discovered makers that have come to light since the book was first published, along with my own opinions on the subject!