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Maker, Smith of Clerkenwell, England. Model - Ivy leaf (floral) design, Presentation piece, c. 1860's.  28"h x 18"w x 9.5"d, net clock movement without base, 22.5"h x 15"w x 7"d. 

Eight day duration, three train chain fusee, heavy frame; seven knopped, finned and double-screwed pillars, blued screws throughout. Quarter chiming Cambridge tune on eight bells; hour chiming larger ninth bell. In addition the clock includes a four tune music box located in it's base which is automatically triggered four times daily. Music can be set to change automatically, stay on one tune or be switched off.  Bells can also be switched on or off.  Clock sits on a burl wood veneered base with satin wood stringers and ebony trim. This example includes a very rare version of clock dome being an elaborate metal-trimmed case with scallop & dart base metal work and ebony trimmed base. Click here for another fine example of a another Smith presentation clock.

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          Smith musical 3 train (16).JPG (825651 bytes)  

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          Smith musical 3 train (2).JPG (840913 bytes)

Notice the extent to which the maker pierced the various cocks and bridges, fretted the racks and levers; decorated the various components. The burl wood base has an elaborate brass filigree applique as well as satin wood stringers and ebony trim, along with original brass-trimmed glass case. This clock would be a specimen of 'over the top' high Victorian design. A perfect example of the quote found on the skeleton clock home page. Altogether, given the originality of all components and design features, this is, along with another in this collection, are the best examples offered by this prominent maker.

These clocks were quite expensive in their day and were customized with various features. The level of finish and quality could be selected. For example one could have the various cocks, bridges and levers in the solid, or fully pierced. Silver appliques or even small turned urns could be added. Pendulums could have simple rods and bobs or the more elaborate types as seen here. Finally, as in this example, a Swiss music box could be added as well as the fancy brass-trimmed glass shade in place of the single oval glass dome. A Smith's catalog of 1865 gives some idea of the value of these timepieces. 'Chime Skeleton Clocks, quarter-hours on eight bells & hours on gong, 25 Pounds upwards', 1.  That was their minimum price for a much smaller and less fancy base model.  This example was one of Smith's largest and fanciest three train quarter chiming clocks. This fact plus the additional fancy base, dome and music box probably increased the cost for a final price of 65 Pounds. The pay for an average government worker in 1865 was 68 Pounds per year or 37,400 Pounds in 2006. Current value of the Pound in 1865 wages would translate into a 551:1 ratio to 2006 or a price of 35,815 Pounds for this clock today; almost a full year's wages. The same model of Smith but without the music box and fancy shade; with a  conventional oval marble base and dome sold at Sotheby's in December of 2006 for 31,200 Pounds. These seem to have held favorably against the price index!

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1. British Skeleton Clocks, Derek Roberts, p. 127