A horologic masterpiece of precision and beauty, this Victorian-era skeleton clock is an extraordinary example of 19th-century British clockmaking by the famed James Condliff of Liverpool. Regarded as the father of the English skeleton clock, Condliff is celebrated as the first English clockmaker who specialized in these highly complex timepieces. Brilliantly conceived and of the finest quality, his timekeepers were individually made, and no single one is exactly the same. His process was so complex and painstaking that he produced a relatively small number of these timepieces during his lifetime; only about 70 of his skeleton clocks exist to this day.
The timepiece is further distinguished by its design. Condliff created only a small handful of these table regulators around 1845; by 1850, he veered away from this design, adopting instead the then-popular tall, slender frame that is more recognizable today. This example, by contrast, boasts a wide architectural frame resting on well-turned brass columns at each corner. The wheel train is held within a pair of arched brass plates, while a gilt brass serpent pins the movement's spring, adding visual intrigue. Three slender, silvered dials display the time in an unusual configuration. The first indicates the hours, the second the minutes, and the last displays the seconds, all with Roman numerals and blued steel hands.
The clock was almost certainly made by Condliff especially for Edward Scales, a clockmaker based in Manchester who crafted the timepiece's escapement. The base is engraved "Patent Detached Lever Edward Scales Old Church Yard Manchester" — the prominence of the engraving not only reflects Scales' pride in his patent lever escapement but also indicates that he was likely the clock's retailer.
Clock: 9 1/4" wide x 4 1/2" deep x 11 3/4" high
Case: 13 1/2" wide x 7 1/2" deep x 17" highClick here to view a video of this item.