Back Up Next

Maker unknown, Italy. Iron Chamber Clock, late 1400's. 12 1/2"h x 5 1/2"w x 6"d. Foliot escapement, stirrup winding ratchet, count wheel featuring alle Romana and la ribatta strike. 12 hour duration. Bell, dial, hand, hand motion work, weights, bracket later replacements.

This clock is illustrated in The Evolution of Clockwork, J. Drummond Robertson., pp. 42 and 46, see last illustration on this page.  The strike train has two features originating in medieval Italy. The first is la ribatta, the repetition of the sounded hour after an interval of two or three minutes.  It was thought that this method was used in monasteries to call the monks to certain tasks so that the ceremonies/prayers would begin exactly at the appointed time. The strike is also one through six, known as alle Romana instead of one through twelve as it is today. This arrangement allowed for economy of weight fall, especially in the light of the fact that the hours were struck twice. The original face of this clock would have also been indicated as 1 -6 instead of the current 1 -12. In his book the author dates this clock from the 15th century.

There is another article written about this clock in Antiquarian Horology, June 1971, pp. 198-199. "Some Features of 16th, 17th and 18th Century Italian Clocks", by C.D. Cherbel. In his article he dates this clock to the 16th century. He as well as Mr. Drummond agree that the escapement has never been converted to pendulum.

This clock has a vertical crown wheel as was the arrangement in foliot type escapements. Compare this arrangement with that of the horizontal crown wheel on the Dutch tower clock .

Click on photos for more detail.





Provenance: H.W. Porter & Son, November 2000, formerly The Percy Webster collection, England, Sotheby's, London, May 27, 1954, lot #70.                                     

Back Up Next