George Tyler ‘clock watch’ presented by Queen Anne to the Earl of Cromarty

I have already blogged about one interesting ‘watch’ that is up for auction at Heritage Auctions. Here is another item from the same collection. It could not be more different to the spy watch, but it is also historically interesting, albeit in a completely different (and definitely more horological) way.

The description of the lot is as follows :

“LOT 60222

George Tyler London Rare and Unique Gold Clock Watch Presented by Queen Anne to the Earl of Cromarty, circa 1702

Case: 58 mm, pierced 20k gold outer, inscribed on the back “The gift of Anne Stuart Queen of Great Britain and Ireland to the Earl of Cromarty,” outer case with makers mark of WI, five profile repoussé figures on the back, five raised cherubs around the bezel, five piece side box hinge, gilt inner case (tests low karat in content), inner steel bell, inner case pierced with star shapes, silent – strike lever positioned near ten o’clock, bulls eye glass crystal.

Dial: white enamel with Roman hour numerals, black minute track, outer five minute numerals, gold heart shaped hands.

Movement: fire gilt pinned full plate, verge escapement and fusee, one hour strike on steel bell, winged single footed pierced and masked cock, pierced Egyptian pillars, tapered cylindrical pillars near the clock strike train, silver disc regulator, engraved clock spring barrel, leaf engraving around the dial plate.

Signed: George Tyler London on the movement.

George Tyler is listed as having apprenticed in 1692, becoming a master in the Clockmaker Company from 1699 to 1723.

Anne was crowned Queen on April 23, 1702 after the death of William III. George Mackenzie was viscount, tarbat and the first Earl of Cromarty. He was born in 1624. He was clerk of the privy council and a senator in the college of justice. James II also made him a baron and viscount. Queen Anne appointed him as secretary of state and the Earl of Cromarty. He died in 1714 at the age of eighty-eight. He was a highly learned nobleman and the author of a “Vindication of Robert III, the King of Scotland from the charge of bastardy.” He also wrote the Synopsis Apocalyptica and an explication of the Revelations.”

The Heritage catalogue notes that this watch was left un-numbered by the maker, since it was a specially commissioned piece by the Queen.

The Clockmakers’ Company is an active City of London craft guild, founded under a Royal Charter of King Charles I in 1631. Its original purpose was to regulate and encourage watch and clock making and its related skills such as engraving, sundial making and mathematical instrument making. The Company took particular interest in quality control, training (through apprenticeships) and the welfare of its members.

In theory at least, no-one could make, buy or sell clocks or watches or any part of them within the City unless they first became a freeman of the Company. This was achieved through apprenticeship to a free Clockmaker, through redemption (purchase) or patrimony (the right of a child to follow a parent into the Company).

Interestingly, whilst trying to find out more about Tyler I found this list of apprentices who were bound in the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers to George Tyler and his wife Lucy :

5 Jan 1714/15 Mary Darby
28 April 1716 Rebeckah Fisher
3 April 1718 Eleanor Mosely
5 Jan 1719/20 Catherine Jackson
5 June 1722 Hannah Campleshon
4 June 1725 Elizabeth Newton

Sources: London Guildhall (hereafter LG): The Company of Clockmakers’ Register of Apprentices 1631-1931, compiled by C.E. Atkins, London, 1931, and LG: AHS Pam 51, Female Apprentices in the London Clockmakers’ Company; LG: Ms 2711/5, Clockmakers’ Company Rough Minute Book, 1719-31. 

Eleanor Moseley (sometimes appearing in records as “Elinor Mosely”) seems to have been significant enough to appear in a number of papers and specialist works relating to women watchmakers. The daughter of a prosperous York apothecary, she was seventeen years old when she was bound as an apprentice in London to George Tyler and his wife, Lucy, who was a milliner. Her indenture was registered with the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, of which George was a freeman.

In 1726, Eleanor took the freedom of the Clockmakers’ Company and her first apprentice: her fifteen year old sister, Catherine Mosley. She took on a further apprentice, Mary Bate, the same year, followed by Katherine Capon in 1737, Mary Newton in 1732, and Elizabeth Askell in 1734.

Sixty seven women were listed as having been apprenticed in the clock making trade in the period of the mid seventeenth to late eighteenth century (p.81, All men and both sexes: gender, politics, and the false universal in England, 1640-1832 by Hilda L. Smith, Penn State Press, 2002) but there seems to be some confusion as to whether some of these women, like Moseley herself, were in fact  actually clockmakers or milliners. Louise Erickson states that in fact Moseley was the latter, and that she must have been in training with George’s wife Lucy.

I found it rather fascinating to learn that there were women watchmakers during that period, I had no idea, regardless of whether or not some of the recorded female watchmakers were in fact as such, or in fact milliners.

The estimate for this elegant ‘piece unique’ with its beautifully decorated caseback is: $30,000-$40,000, with a reserve price of $20,000. You can now bid online for it here as an absentee bid. Absentee Bidding Ends: May 2, 2011 at 10:00 PM CT (U.S.)

Categories: Auctions, pocket watches

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