Joseph Calvert's first clock. A unique eight-day clock made around 1700 by yeoman farmer Joseph Calvert of Wigton for his own use with the assistance of John Sanderson for the dial-making. Prototype work of an exceptional nature, of great interest in the beginnings of clockmaking in the region. Photographs by Lee Borrett
Fecit hoc Horologi
Shown here is a very rare 8-day longcase c1700, signed ‘Joseph Calvert Fecit hoc Horologium ', which means 'Joseph Calvert made this clock '. This is not the method of signing used by a regular clockmaker, even in these early times, and as it happens many things about this clock tell us that this was a private individual who was probably making a clock for himself for the first time.
Above Wonderfully interesting eleven inch square brass dial of the early Joseph Calvert 8-day clock. Photograph by Lee Borrett
Below. Showing a close-up of the busy Joseph Calvert dial centre, with the engraved inscription ' As hours make days, Soe time decays' . Photograph by Lee Borrett
From family knowledge of the clock's provenance, it has been established that Joseph Calvert was born in 1654 and spent his life as a yeoman farmer at Longthwaite, a hamlet just south of Wigton, where he died in 1728. Longthwaite was about a quarter of a mile from Tiffenthwaite, where John Sanderson lived and worked, and it is known from further research that the two families were acquainted. Joseph Calvert was a signatory to the inventory taken in 1690 on the death of John Sanderson senior, uncle of John Sanderson the clockmaker, who was then only nineteen years old, Calvert being thirty-six. So, Calvert and Sanderson the clockmaker knew each other. It is hardly surprising then, when Joseph Calvert, decided to make himself a clock or two, that he should ask young John Sanderson, a trained clockmaker, to help. We cannot say to what extent Calvert worked on the clock himself, whether he actually made the movement only or whether he made the dial as well, though because of the unusual inscription it is possible that he made both dial and movement himself (probably with the help of John Sanderson). However, the movement and dial were poorly coordinated, as the finished dial did not fit the movement correctly. The three dial feet met the movement awkwardly and had to be moved higher up the dial, leaving tell-tale signs on the dial sheet. It also means that the second’s hole was drilled in the wrong position and had to be re-drilled higher up with additional ringing to conceal the bad fit of the winding squares in their holes. The collars were engraved with a little verse, to make their presence seem purposeful. Even then there was a problem with the winding squares because the centre spoke of the offset twelve-hour-drive calendar wheel (an unsatisfactory calendar system for an eight-day clock but used none-the-less by some early Cumbrian makers including John Sanderson) could not pass the going train winding arbour, and the winding shank had to be cut back to allow passage. Such a calendar still means the clock winding key cannot be inserted during two days in each fortnight. It is likely that John Sanderson had a hand in the suggested dial layout, though whether he engraved the dial itself or whether that was done by another of the Wigton group is impossible to establish. Certainly, the dial has a number of stylistic features relative to this immediate area, most obvious being the cup-and-ring turnings.
Above Showing a close-up of Joseph Calvert's wonderfully interesting signature ' Joseph Calvert hoc Horologi', which means Joseph Calvert made this clock!Photograph by Lee Borrett
Above. Showing one of the interesting collars that Joseph Calvert or John Sanderson made to conceal their error.Photograph by Lee Borrett
Above. Showing another close-up view of the interesting dial centre.' Photograph by Lee Borrett
Above. The corners are decorated with cup-and-ringing.Photograph by Lee Borrett
Below. The original pendulum survives and its has cup-and-ring decoration. On close inspection, this suggests that calvert has used the same dill bit on the pendulum bob decoration as he did when he decorated the four corners of the dial. Photograph courtesy of private Collector
Below. Showing the right-hand side view of Joseph Calvert's finned and ringed pillar movement. Close inspection shows that Calvert originally made it with five-pillars but one has been removed at some point. Photographed by Lee Borrett
Below. Showing the left-hand side view of Joseph Calvert's finned and ringed pillar movement. Photographed by Lee Borrett
Below. Below. Showing a close-up side view of the Joseph Calvert movement,c1700. Photograph courtesy of private Collector
The case of this clock is made of red walnut with walnut cross banding. By its style (notably the ogee top-of-trunk mould, canted base, and busy lower trunk moulds) we can establish that it originated from this locality, probably Workington or Whitehaven. It is clearly much newer than the clock and would appear to date from the 1760s. Yet it was made purposely for this clock, which has an 11-inch dial, impossibly small for a standard 1760s case, as all eight-day clocks of that period have dials of 12 inch or larger. Research suggests that the clock passed to a John Pattinson on the death of William Calvert, the maker's son, in 1765, and the clock was re-housed in this (newly made) case then. The clock stayed with the Pattinson family - in the same location right up to 1995 when another member of the Pattinson family who had just inherited the clock - decided to sell it. Interestingly John Pattinson was a witness to William Calvert’s Will in 1765 and we can only assume that the Pattinson family acquired the clock through the friendship of John Pattinson and William Calvert.
Right. The trunk door is held in place by two original brass hinges. Photographed by Lee Borrett
Below. Discovered almost thirty years ago by Brian Loomes, many things about this clock tell us that this was a private individual who was probably making a clock for himself for the first time.Photographed by Lee Borrett
Below. Showing a copy of Joseph Calvert's Signature in 1690. Photographed by Lee Borrett
Discovered almost thirty years ago by Brian Loomes, many things about this clock tell us that this was a private individual who was probably making a clock for himself for the first time and the difficulties which arose in its making give an indication that there was more to the business than just building a clock movement and dial.
Joseph Calvert was a signatory to the inventory taken in 1690 on the death of John Sanderson senior, uncle of John Sanderson the clockmaker, who was then only nineteen years old, Calvert being thirty-six. So, Calvert and Sanderson the clockmaker knew each other. It is hardly surprising then, when Joseph Calvert, decided to make himself a clock or two, that he should ask his neighbour, young John Sanderson, a trained clockmaker, to help.
A later 30-hour longcase and surviving dial (only) by Calvert which has come to light suggests that Joseph Calvert went on to make at least two more clocks.
I would like to thank Brian Loomes for allowing me to use any previously published information and articles on The Wigton 'School' of Clockmaking.
Most of the above information has been taken from Brian Loome,s book entitled Clockmakers of Northern England, pages 66-69. My thanks go to Mr Loomes for allowing me to use his own material.
This clock is shown in several books by Brian Loomes, including Clockmakers of Northern England, pages 66-69.
See two part article in Clocks Magazine on this clock by Brian Loomes.