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Primitive Longcase. A wonderfully interesting, unrestored 17th century primitive 30-hour longcase clock by John Sanderson of Wigton, c1698. Photographed by Lee Borrett.

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17th century

Primitive Longcase, 1698

The interesting unrestored late 17th century 30-hour longcase clock illustrated here in an unrestored condition, was made from around c1698 by John Sanderson of Wigton and is housed in a primitive oak case with back splat. The two-handed 11 inch square brass dial has John Sanderson’s well-known religious verse deeply engraved to the dial centre which reads:- ‘Remember man die thou must, And after that to Judgement Just’. The verse has been engraved around a square date calendar which is located to the lower part of the dial centre and tells us that Sanderson cut-out the date calendar square before he engraved the dial centre.

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Above. Showing the unrestored John Sanderson 11-inch square brass dial with blank corners and a religious versed dial centre. Photographed by Lee Borrett.

The silvered chapter ring has trident half-hour marker’s and is signed at the bottom ‘John Sanderson’. Sanderson has however, signed this clock without a placement and suggesting to me that he probably originally made this clock to be sold at a market place outside of the Wigton area which is something we know that he did. All four corners of the dial were not made to take spandrels and have been left blank which is normal for Sanderson clocks of this early period.

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Above.  Showing a close-up of the John Sanderson signature and the trident half-hour markers. Photographed by Lee Borrett.

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Above. Showing a close-up of the unrestored and  tarnished dial centre with Sanderson’s deeply engraved religious verse which reads:- ‘Remember man die thou must, And after that to Judgement Just’. .   Photographed by Lee Borrett.

Below. The back of chapter ring reveals some of John Sanderson's practice engraving including the capital letter 'J' for John.  Photographed by Lee Borrett.

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Below. More of John Sanderson's practice engraving showing the capital letter 'S' for Sanderson. Photographed by Lee Borrett.

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Below. Here we have John Sanderson's practice engraving showing the capital letter 'R' for Remember. Note Sanderson's slip from using his engraving tool. Photographed by Lee Borrett.

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Below. Showing a rear view of the late 17th century John Sanderson 30-hour clock. A lantern type heavily built birdcage brass and iron movement with pyramid shaped back cock are all typical features of Sanderson's early work.

Photographed by Lee Borrett.

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Below.  Showing the Top-Plate of the John Sanderson lantern type movement. Photographed by Lee Borrett.

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It is thought that Sanderson sold many of his early 30-hour clocks with the brass lantern style pillars at the local marketplace in wigton and surrounding areas including even as far as Edinburgh with a view that the new owners could either use them as wall on bracket clocks (showing off the lantern style brass pillars) and keeping the price down. Alternatively, they could house the clock in a wooden case straight away like the example shown here or at some time in the future when they could afford to. 

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Above.  Showing the primitive pegged oak case with back splat and external iron blacksmith hinges to both trunk door and hood door. Showing a side view of the primitive hood. It was originally made to have side windows but close inspection shows that glass was never fitted.   Photographed by Lee Borrett.

Below.  Showing a close-up of one of the external iron blacksmith hinges.  Photographed by Lee Borrett.

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Below.  Showing the John Sanderson lantern type movement sitting on it's oak blocks  Photographed by Lee Borrett.

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Below.  Showing a front view of the primitive pegged oak hood. Photographed by Lee Borrett.

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John Sanderson was born in 1671 and was brought up at Tiffinthwaite Farm (near Wigton) where his father Robert was the blacksmith and they probably lived in the outbuildings on the farmland. It is believed that he may have served an apprenticeship under the Quaker Clockmaker John Ogden at Bowbridge in Yorkshire during the 1680s. He was back living and working as a Clockmaker at Tiffinthwaite from about 1690.


Brian Loomes is the authority on John Sanderson. 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!

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