Home
About Us
Contact Us
Longcase Clocks
Bracket Clocks
Wall Clocks
Other Clocks
French Clocks
Restoration
Collecting
Useful Links

 

Charles Gretton Book Project

January 20, 2009

The Gretton Project

A book about Charles Gretton by Warner Meinen and Dennis Radage

Project Update – January 2009

In our letter of October 2008, published in the December 2008 issue of Antiquarian Horology, we committed to publish a list of our findings, tabulating all of the identified Gretton clocks and watches. We specifically want to highlight all of the identified clocks whose whereabouts are unknown to us. Charles Gretton became an eminent and well respected maker of fine clocks and watches in London, he was however born in Claypole, Lincolnshire, see Photo 1.

In October 2008 we had identified 106 clocks and watches. As it turned out though, closer examination revealed several duplicates, so our count was reduced slightly. However, following the publication of the October letter, several new clocks, previously unknown to us, have surfaced. Our current count therefore now stands at 107 items; 36 are table/spring clocks, 48 are longcase clocks, the watch count remains at 20 and the lantern clock count remains at 3.

We know the current whereabouts of 54 of the clocks and watches, this leaves another 53 that we know of, have a catalogue or book image of, but do not know the current owner nor the location of the item. Of the ones that we do know the whereabouts of, these are mostly with private individuals and museums, although a few are currently with dealers. Most of the identified but unlocated clocks have been identified by images from old books and auction catalogues.

We will list below the clocks and watches in four tables, listing longcase clocks, Table 1. Spring/table clocks, Table 2. Lantern clocks, Table 3, and watches, Table 4. We do not own the copyright for most images, however, we have been able to obtain a release from all private owners, dealers and auction houses, specifically for use in this project and our book. More work is still required to obtain similar releases from other institutions and museums. However, it is not intend to publish the images in this article.

Our tables list all items in each category, along with a brief description. For the unlocated items, a reference is given as to the last known image, whether it be from an auction catalogue or book. Located items are listed as such indicating whether the item is privately owned, in a museum or with a dealer. For confidentiality reasons, we have not listed the provenance (last known publication) of items in this located (private) category. It is our hope that owners of clocks that we do not have a current location for, will identify their clocks from the brief description and the last known reference. As previously mentioned, we do have images of all of the untraced items, although some images may be poor. If an owner believes that they have an unlocated item and would like to confirm this, please contact us and we will, in confidence, send you a copy of the image that we have on file.

Some interesting statistics are starting to emerge from this project; of the 107 items identified by Gretton, 45% are longcase clocks, 33% are spring/table clocks, 19% are watches and just 3% are lantern clocks. Refer to Figure 1. Further, of the longcase clocks, we have located 37%, that is 18 of the 48. Of the spring/table clocks, we have located 50%, that is 18 of the 36. Of the watches, we have located 83%, that is 16 of the 20, and of the lantern clocks we have located 2, which is 66% of the 3 known lantern clocks. One of the lantern clocks recently came up for auction but was eventually sold privately to an international buyer.

It is interesting to note that the smaller the timepiece, the better chance we have of locating it. 83% being watches, 50% for table clocks, 66% for lantern clocks but just 37% for longcase clocks! This seems counter to any fear of the timepiece being stolen. Would this also imply that longcase clock owners are more private of their ownership, or are these clocks in the homes of individuals who are not active collectors, thus do not read the current horological journals? This would be unfortunate since Gretton’s greatest output would seem to have been longcase clocks, many being impressive examples such as those from the Wetherfield Collection.

While we have by no means concluded our research, initial estimates indicate that Gretton was making clocks from right after his apprenticeship in 1672 until the late 1720’s, more than 50 years of making clocks. While dating has not been completed yet, Gretton’s peak output seems to have been during the 1690’s. Refer to Figure 2. Initial estimates also indicate that while table clock production peaked in the 1690’s, they continued to be made into the 1720’s. Longcase clocks also peaked in the 1690’s but production dropped off quite significantly after about 1700. Watch production seems to have started early and continued through 1700. Refer to Figure 3.

We know that Gretton employed journeymen and apprentices, and his working period spanned more than 50 years. He was an active member of the Clockmaker’s Company for much of that time so we can assume that his focus was indeed the making of clocks and watches. It is likely that a number of his timepieces were destroyed, dismantled or lost, this is evidenced by locating watch movements, dismantled table clock movements and plain sheet dials, signed but without anything attached. One longcase movement was found in a farmer’s field.

From these statistics it remains purely guesswork as to how many timepieces Gretton and his staff may have made. We believe that the number certainly exceeds just those that we have identified. Hopefully more owners will come forward. We particularly hope that we are able to locate some of the 53 known but unlocated clocks and watches. Since there are so many unlocated longcase clocks, we would very much appreciate hearing about some of these.

As has been mentioned previously, this project is being managed from both Vancouver, Canada, and from the Netherlands. Research is slow and expensive and our time in the UK is severely limited. We would certainly like to spend more time with current owners and more time examining the clocks we find. Unfortunately though, with two or more items to photograph per day, and often 100 or 200 miles between owners, visiting time is usually limited to just a few hours. Taking acceptable photographs under these conditions is indeed challenging, while our equipment is good, we have less than ideal conditions, no studio so photographing in situ is the most likely scenario. We do have lighting, but due to voltage differences we rely mostly on the new “all voltage” daylight LED lights. While good, we never seem to have sufficient lighting. Setting up and packing the equipment takes more than half our time and actual photography may take an hour or so thus leaving relatively little time for discussion and touring collections. Naturally we do need to document specifications, take dimensions and sign the appropriate releases.

Our next visit to the UK is already scheduled for May this year (2009). We have already arranged to visit several private owners to photograph and document their Gretton clocks and watches. However, we still need your help. If you know of any Gretton clocks or watches, or if you have information which you feel might assist this project, we would be delighted to hear from you. We would truly appreciate your support – confidentiality is assured. Please contact either Warner or myself.

Thank you

Dennis Radage


Note new contact details:

Dennis Radage:
Tel: +1-604-921-1666
Laila & Dennis Radage: grettonproject@shaw.ca

Warner Meinen:
Tel: +31 (0593) 332860
Warner Meinen: grettonproject@hetnet.nl

Table 1: Longcase Clocks List

 

ITEM ID

 

BRIEF DESCRIPTION

 

LAST KNOWN

 

LOCATED

 

LOC

LC1

Walnut, 9 ¼” sq dial, B&S maintain power, early hands, flat top

Sotheby’s  lot 63 09/07/64

no

NA

LC2

Walnut, 9 ½” sq dial, B&S maintain power, early hands, flat top

Sotheby’s  lot 362 22/02/90

no

NA

LC3

Walnut, 10” sq dial, B&S maintain power, early hands, flat top

 

Yes – private

UK

LC4

Walnut, 10” sq dial, flat plinth base, flat top

Sotheby’s lot 267 78 & 80

no

NA

LC5

Floral marquetry, lenticle, 10” sq dial, flat top, bun feet

Sotheby’s lot 294 14/12/89

no

NA

LC6

Floral marquetry, lenticle, sq dial, domed top with finials

Wetherfield Collection

no

NA

LC7

Floral marquetry, lenticle, 11” sq dial, flat top,  flat plinth base

Bonham’s lot 226 14/07/99

no

NA

LC8

Floral marquetry & cherubs, lenticle, 11” sq dial, flat top, qtr striking

 

Yes – private

CA

LC9

Arabesque marquetry, lenticle, 11” sq dial, flat top, block feet

Sotheby’s lot 936 07/06/86

no

NA

LC10

Walnut flat top, lenticle, 11” dial, flat plinth base, 5 latched pillars

Bonham’s lot 148 25/10/08

no

NA

LC11

Arabesque marquetry, sq dial, flat top, bun feet

Naon Arg. Christies NY lot 5 - 06

no

NA

LC12

Floral marquetry, lenticle, sq dial, domed top,  flat plinth base

Wetherfield Collection Fig. 38

no

NA

LC13

Floral marquetry, lenticle, arch dial, domed top & fin, pad feet

WC & EDC fig 181

no

NA

LC14

Floral marquetry, lenticle, 11” sq dial, domed top,  flat plinth base

Sotheby’s lot 262 18/12/86

no

NA

LC15

Floral marquetry, lenticle, 11” sq dial, flat top,  flat plinth base

Sotheby’s lot 138 03/03/96

no

NA

LC16

Floral marquetry, flat top

Millers & Christies 97 & 2000

no

NA

LC17

Seaweed marquetry,  lenticle, 11” sq dial, domed top,  flat plinth

Sotheby’s lot 176 05/07/02

no

NA

LC18

Floral marquetry + border, lenticle, sq dial, flat top,  bun ft.

Solvang Antiques USA 2007

no

NA

Table 2: Spring Table Clocks List

 

Clock ID

 

BRIEF DESCRIPTION

 

LAST KNOWN

 

LOCATED

 

LOC

BK1

Ebony, gilt top, T&S+R, date@ VI, no finials

 

Yes - dealer

UK

BK2

Ebony, gilt top, T&S+R, ball finials

 

Yes - private

UK

BK3

Ebony, pad top, T&S, date @ VI, no finials

 

Yes - private

UK

BK4

Movement, T&S

Private restorer

no

?

BK5

Ebony, gilt top, T&S, date @ VI finials, alarm

Sotheby’s lot 76 26/06/76

no

?

BK6

Ebony, silver top & mts, date @ XII, three train, finials

V & A Museum

Yes - museum

UK

BK7

Ebony, gilt top & mts, date @ XII, single train,

Sotheby’s lot 207 02/78

no

?

BK8

Movement, T&S+R, date @ VI, false Pend.

Early English Clocks

no

?

BK9

Ebony, pad top, single train

Sotheby’s lot 99 11/12/54

no

?

BK10

Ebony, pad top, gilt mts, T&S, false Pend, date @ VI

V & A Museum

Yes - museum

UK

BK11

Ebony, gilt top & mts, finials, single train, date @ XII

Sotheby’s lot 43 09/07/64

no

?

BK12

Ebony, gilt top & mts, finials, T&S, false Pend, 2 sub dials

 

Yes - private

NL

BK13

Ebony, Pad top, gilt mts, T&S, date @ VI, 2 sub dials, false Pend

 

Yes - private

UK

BK14

Ebony, gilt top & mts, T&S, date@ VI, finials

Christies lot 389 29/03/01

no

?

BK15

Ebony, gilt top & mts, finials, single train, date@ XII

Sotheby’s lot 57 28/06/78

no

?

BK16

Ebony, pad top, single train, date@ XII

Sotheby’s lot 153 24/06/74

no

?

BK17

Duplicate

 

 

 

BK18

Ebony, pad top, T&S + R, date @ VI, false Pend, 4 sub dials

 

Yes - private

UK

BK19

Ebony, gilt Double basket & mts, finials, T&S + R, moon & date

 

Yes - private

CA

BK20

Kingwood, pad top, + mts, T&S, date @VI, false Pend

Christies lot 70 + GBC

no

?

BK21

Ebony, small pad top, T&S, fls pend, date above XII

 

Yes - private

UK

BK22

Ebonized, inv bell top, Time, false Pend, date dial in arch

Sotheby’s SA lot 3 19/04/04

no

?

BK23

Ebonized, inv bell top , T&S, false Pend, date dial in arch

Wetherfield Collection

no

?

BK24

Ebonized, inv bell top , T&S, false Pend, date dial in arch

 

Yes - private

USA

BK25

Ebonized, inv bell top , T&S, false Pend, date @VI, sig in arch

 

Yes - other

UK

BK26

Ebonized, inv bell top , T&S, false Pend, date @ VI, seconds in arch?

 

Yes - private

UK

BK27

Kingwood, gilt top, finials, time, date@ XII

Image from NAWCC

no

?

BK28

Ebonized, later bell top, T&S, date @ VI, arch dial

Hy Duke lot 748 29/09/06

no

?

BK29

Kingwood, pad top & mts, , T&S, date @ XII

Christies lot 100

no

?

BK30

Kingwood, pad top & mts, T&S, date @ VI

 

Yes - private

UK

BK31

Kingwood, gilt top & mts, T&S, date @ VI, false Pend

Garths Ohio lot 1068 05/05/07

no

?

BK32

Ebony, pad top with mts, time, false Pend

Bonham’s lot 163 22/04/98

no

?

BK33

Ebony, Pad top, T&S, false Pend. Date @ XII

 

Yes - private

DE

BK34

Kingwood & marquetry case, T&S, false Pend. Date @ VI

 

Yes - private

UK

BK35

Ebony, Low pad top, finials, false Pend, T&S, 4 sub dials,

Bonham’s lot 121

no

?

BK36

Ebony, gilt top & mts, time

Private restorer

Yes - private

UK

BK37

Ebony, pad top, ebony, time, false Pend.

 

Yes - private

UK

 

Table 3: Lantern List

 

Clock ID

 

BRIEF DESCRIPTION

 

LAST KNOWN

 

LOCATED

 

LOC

LT1

30H lantern, no alarm, wide chapter ring, foliage fret

Wetherfield Collection Fig. 4

no

NA

LT2

30H lantern, no alarm, wide chapter ring, foliage fret

UK auction 2008

Yes - private

Int

LT3

30H lantern, no alarm, wide chapter ring, foliage fret, winged

 

Yes - private

UK

Table 4: Watch List

 

Watch ID

 

BRIEF DESCRIPTION

 

LAST KNOWN

 

LOCATED

 

LOC

W1

Silver pair case, pierced inner & outer case, silver dial, alarm

Artistry of English Watch p85

Yes - CC

UK

W2

Filigree in gold

Artistry of English Watch p93

no

NA

W3

Ornamented tortoiseshell, Lee family arms

Artistry of English Watch p105

no

NA

W4

Gold watch, enamel back & enamel dial with white chapter ring

 

no

NA

W5

Gold pair case, chased outer, gold dial, steel hands.

Clocks & Watches in CC p 26

Yes - CC

UK

W6

Gold pair case, gilt champlevé dial, 2 steel hands, signed dial

 

Yes - Private

UK

W7

Silver pair case silver champlevé dial single hand

 

Yes - Private

UK

W8

Gold pair case white enamel dial two hands

 

Yes - Private

USA

W9

Silver pair case silver champlevé dial single hand

British Museum

Yes -  Museum

UK

W10

Silver cased, silver champlevé dial, two hands, rear plate seconds

British Museum

Yes -  Museum

UK

W11

Verge movement

British Museum

Yes -  Museum

UK

W12

Gold cased watch, gilt champlevé dial two hands

Ashmolean Oxford

Yes -  Museum

UK

W13

Octagonal silver cased watch, silver champlevé dial one hand

Ashmolean Oxford

Yes -  Museum

UK

W14

Gretton movement in later skeletonized silver case

USA dealer – Pieces of Time

no

USA

W15

Gold pair case watch shagreen back, gilt champlevé dial two hands

 

Yes - Private

NA

W16

Gold pair case, gilt champlevé dial, 2 steel hands, signed dial

 

Yes - Private

UK

W17

Silver pair case, inlaid outer tortoiseshell, silver champlevé dial

 

Yes - Private

UK

W18

Silver pair case, outer tortoiseshell, white enamel dial two hands

British Museum

Yes -  Museum

UK

W19

Silver cased, white enamel dial, two hands

 

Yes - Private

UK

W20

Watch – no details

Liverpool Museum

Yes -  Museum

UK

 

 

Home | About Us | Contact Us | Longcase Clocks | Bracket Clocks | Wall Clocks | French Clocks | Other Clocks | Restoration | Collecting | Useful Links

©2007 Pacific Antique Clocks. Last update: Dec 2012. Website Management by Sky's the Limit Web Marketing