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All-Over Tulip Dial. A beautiful tulip dial clock with religious verse to the dial centre by John Sanderson, c1715.  Photograph by Lee Borrett.

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John Sanderson

Tulip Dial Clock, c1715 

The John Sanderson clock shown below is in a wonderfully original and untouched condition throughout and is a very desirable example. It is a beautifully All-Over engraved tulip dial themed 30-hour wall on bracket clock with religious verse and was probably made by John Sanderson around c1715. To the top of the dial centre there is a single tulip flower with an interesting calendar mouth just below. Then from the middle of the centre to the lower part John Sanderson’s well known religious verse is beautifully engraved ‘Remember Man Die thou must, And after that to judgement just’. Then instead of ringing like the earlier example shown, there is a kind of wriggle decoration that is engraved all around the inside and outside of the chapter ring. The dial corners are deeply engraved with one large and two small tulip flowers in each of the four corners and these are all linked together by a flowing foliage design that branches out around the outer edges of the dial. The chapter ring has interesting trident type half-hour markers with arrow heads and is signed at the bottom John Sanderson with no place name. This suggests to me that Sanderson may have sold this clock at a marketplace outside of Wigton.

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Above Showing John Sanderson's beautifully All-Over engraved tulip dial - 30-hour wall on bracket clock with religious verse, c1715.  Photograph by Lee Borrett.

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Above Showing a view of the dial centre showing the tulip flower, calendar mouth, deeply engraved religious verse and the wriggle decoration on the inside of the chapter ring. Original iron hands.  Photograph by Lee Borrett.

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Above Showing one of the corners with tulips and a foliage design.  Photograph by Lee Borrett.

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Above Signed John Sanderson without place name.  Photograph by Lee Borrett.

The brass and iron birdcage movement with lantern style brass turned pillars is typical of John Sanderson’s work. It is in a wonderfully original, untouched condition throughout and has a lovely dark rich untouched colour and patina. It is fixed to a later and very old solid mahogany seat board with rounded edges suggesting that it has either been housed in a longcase at some point or sat on a mahogany wall shelf, but like so many of these Sanderson clocks, it probably started life as a wall clock, and judging by its untouched condition I would guess that the clock has spent many years in some kind of storage.

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Above Showing a side view of the wonderfully original movement.  Photograph by Lee Borrett.

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Above Showing the Top Plate.  Photograph by Lee Borrett.

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Above Showing a rear view of John Sanderson’s tulip dial movement.  Photograph by Lee Borrett.

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.

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 or at some time in the future when they could afford to. From my own experiences in collecting them I think that apart from a few cases the vast majority of Sanderson’s early religious versed 30-hour clocks with the lantern style movements were probably used as wall clocks initially and then some of these were either housed later in a new case, styled in the then fashion of the day, or like other examples found today - which have been at some time in their life adapted to a previously occupied case (married up). However, when collecting these early Wigton clocks this is all part of their natural history through the passage of time and ownership and I do not view this in a negative way.

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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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