Back Up Next

Maker, W. Jackson, London, England? (see text below). c. 1830.  Pierre Debaufre (chaff cutter) deadbeat escapement with balance wheel control. Two train, count wheel controlled strike. Eight days. Movement: 8"w x 15"h x 4"d, overall: 10"w x 21"h x 6"d.

Click on the picture to go to a page for more detail.

                            Chaff cutter (26).JPG (806657 bytes)

                            Chaff cutter (38).JPG (801118 bytes)

                            Chaff cutter (42).JPG (846803 bytes)



This clock contains some interesting features. The bolts holding the frame together are all countersunk within the frame. The escapement is unusual for a skeleton clock. All of the escapement components and the second wheel down the going train have, instead of conventional pivots at the end of their arbors, concave circular depressions.  Conical, hardened needle pivots at the end of a threaded rod screw into the frame where they insert into each concave depression on the wheel and escapement components. Each pivot is equipped with a knurled locking nut. This arrangement is more complicated and expensive to produce than standard arbors with pivots. It does allow for the separate removal of each escapement component as well as the second wheel in the going train; all without having to part the plates. It would appear that when the pivots are properly positioned and in good condition, that there is less friction acting upon the movement parts than would be in a conventional design. The Debaufre escapement is rare for a quality skeleton clock, I know of no other examples. Peter Debaufre invented this escapement in 1704.  Escapement video 1, 2, 3.

The count wheel uses staggered steel pins in place of the usual notches. The forged brass plates are quite thick at 1/4".

There is some doubt as to whether the maker and origin indicated on the frame plate is correct. The type of escapement was used in French clocks, with no examples known from English makers. Also the clock employs going barrels in place of English wound fusees, a rarity in early early 18th century English clocks. The baluster style pillars are typical of early 18th century French work. The chapter ring and spade hands are, however, of English style and perhaps were fitted to a French skeleton movement by the W. Jackson on the name plate. There are several entries under this name and location in Loomis and Britten's, but considering that this is a common name and a major city that is not surprising.

This clock is probably unique as no other examples are known. It has been illustrated in Skeleton Clocks, F. B. Royard-Collard pp. 84-86 as well as British Skeleton Clocks, Derek Roberts pp. 195-196. An illustration of the Debaufre escapement appears in that book. With most skeleton clocks the plates as well as wheels are used to present the overall appearance. In this design, it appears the maker wanted to minimize the frame letting the wheel work stand out.

Pierre and his brother Jacob working with Geneva mathematician Nicholas Facio in London learned to pierce rubies and use them as bearings and end stones for balance staffs. They had submitted for a patent for these in 1704 which was initially granted but then withdrawn. It was successfully opposed by the Clockmaker's Company, which argued that such a monopoly would reduce the British watch industry to servitude. The patent, after all, could not be enforced abroad, so the makers on the continent would soon be making jeweled watches without royalty payments putting the British trade at a disadvantage. Seems to me that this argument could be used to void any patent!

Provenance: Christie's, South Kensington, UK, December 13, 2006, lot #90. Formerly, Christie's, London, UK, March 2005, lot #367. Formerly the Albert L. Odmark collection. Formerly, Ben Wacek collection March 5, 1966.

Back Home Up Next