Bennett, Cheapside, London, England, c. 1870. Movement net - 22 1/4h x 19"w
x 13"d, with dome and base - 33"h x 24"w x 13 1/2"d. Three train,
eight day chain fusee, quarter striking with Whittington tune on eight bells, hours on
coiled steel gong. Graham dead beat escapement, Harrison maintaining power. Compensated
mercury jar pendulum.
HISTORY: Sir John Bennett (1814-1897) was a well known clock and watch
retailer and civil leader in London. After his father's death he took over
the family business in Greenwich and in 1846 he established it at 65
Cheapside Street, London that was part of the goldsmith retail district
sandwiched between other businesses. In 1843 he married Agnes Willson and
they had at least three children. For a time the family lived at the
Cheapside address, but later moved and lived at a variety of locations
around London. He became a Freeman on City of London in 1849, and entered
city politics as Common Councilman for the Ward of Cheap in 1862 and held
that office until 1889. In 1871-1872 he served as Sheriff of London and
Middlesex and on March 14, 1872 he was knighted by Queen Victoria for his
support of public education. In June 1877 he was elected Alderman of Cheap,
but rejected by the Court of Alderman. Around 1889 he appeared to be in
financial difficulties and the business became a limited company. Shortly
afterwards he retired from the company, and in July 1897 he died. His wife
Agnes has predeceased him dying in 1889. The company continued as Sir John
Bennett, Ltd until 1940 when the building was closed down and destroyed by
bombs in WWII.
There is a three part article on
this maker in Clocks Magazine beginning June 2005.
Click on pictures for more details
This clock was made as an exhibition piece either as a headliner advertisement for
Bennett's own company or for a trade show. It is likely a one of a kind. The movement is
massive having both front and rear plates cast of one piece of brass ranging in thickness
from 1/4" to over 7/8". The frame is gilded, heavily articulated and carved with
scrollwork in high relief, polished edges and stippled interior areas. Plates held by eight
large double baluster pillars of 3/4" diameter by 3 3/4" length. Strike spring
barrels 3 1/4" diameter by 3 1/4" wide. The silvered dial is is 10 1/2" and
has blue enamel chapters. Blued hands with polished steel strike lever work. Net weight at
This photo shows a portion of the original Bennett storefront brought
from London in 1929 with four man-sized figures, two bell jacks, Gog & Magog,
The Angel and Father Time with the original tower clock mechanism rebuilt in
Greenfield Village, Dearborn, Michigan.
Provenance: Christie's, New York June 2005, lot #62, formerly Robert O.
Schmitt collection, formerly London dealer Keith Banham, 1981.