But then late Antony ‘Tony’ Hill had an eye for quality and although he owned a number of antique shops in and around Margate, he kept the best clocks for his own private collection.
Born in 1935 in the town and educated at King Ethelbert School, Tony did his national service in the RAF at Brise Norton and was a dog hander with the military police. He subsequently found work as a taxi driver.
His interest in clocks started in the 1960s when he started researching the subject and collecting in earnest, before taking the plunge and becoming a general antiques dealer fulltime in the 1970s. His first shop was in Northdown Road, Margate, but he moved on a number of occasions, with shops in Westbrook and Broadstairs. He lived in Cliftonville, retiring about 10 years ago.
When he retired, he continued to attend sales at The Canterbury Auction Galleries and was a familiar face there with many friends, including the auctioneer, Tony Pratt. He died suddenly in May, aged 80. The collection has been sent for sale by Tony’s son, Graham, who said his father had instructed it be sent to The Canterbury Auction Galleries when the time came.
Pick of the collection was one of five longcase clocks: a fine and early 18th century example, the movement by Christopher Gould of London, contained in a late 18th or early 19th century Dutch walnut and marquetry case, which sold to a local commission bidder for £8,500. It also emerged as the most valuable clock in the entire sale.
Its 12-inch square brass dial had a subsidiary seconds dial, date aperture, and was decorated with cast gilt cherub's head and flowerhead paterae spandrels, while the case was inlaid with classical urns, birds, trailing floral ornament, and patterned bandings. Gould was a maker of great repute and is recorded in 1682 as a member of the Clockmakers’ Company. He died in 1718.
Nearest contender for top honours was another fine longcase clock in a walnut and marquetry case, this one dating from the late 17th century and made by the eminent London maker Joseph Williamson in Red Lyon Fields. It sold to a Welsh collector bidding on the telephone for £6,500.
The clock’s 10ins square brass dial with silvered chapter ring had subsidiary seconds dial and date aperture, a Tudor rose engraving at the centre and cast winged cherubs’ heads and leaf scroll spandrels, while the case was decorated with with panels of bird and urn and floral marquetry, in circular and oval cartouches on an oyster wood ground.
Joseph Williamson is recorded as being apprenticed in 1696, rising to become Master of the Clockmakers’ Company in 1724. He died the following year.
A friend of Tony’s and a fellow collector secured four lots in the sale, two of them brass dial longcases: a good George II example in a figured walnut case by London maker John Gordon of London, which sold for £3,300 and a mid 18th century clock, also in a walnut case, by William Dowell Swan of Margate, who is recorded as working in in the town before 1754. Mr Hill purchased the latter at the sale of Leslie Brundle Collection at The Canterbury Auction Galleries in 2004, this time out selling for £2,500.
The friend’s other purchases were two good early 18th century table clocks, the more valuable being by John Topping of London, which sold for £3,600. It had a 6-inch arched brass dial with large calendar, strike/silent and regulation dials to the arch, a mock pendulum aperture and winged cherubs head spandrels, while the backplate was finely engraved with birds, urns of flowers and bold leaf scroll ornament, in an ebonised case.
The other was by Joseph Jackman of London Bridge, the 7.5ins arched brass dial also with mock pendulum and date apertures, twin No strike/Strike and calendar dials to the arch and bold winged cherubs head spandrels. It sold for £2,500. Jackman is recorded as working 1708-1716.
A buyer bidding on the internet from his home in Italy paid £1,700 for a 19th century style mahogany cased wall mounted “Regulator” clock made by Leslie Brundle and purchased by Tony Hill at his sale in 2004.
It had a 12-inch diameter painted dial with sweep minute outer main dial and subsidiary seconds and hour dials, and small “Up/Down” dial to the side. Power came from an eight-day fusee movement with maintaining power and deadbeat escapement and had been estimated at £750-1,000, while a local telephone bidder paid £2,300 against the estimate for a late 19th century French repeater carriage clock with calendar and alarm dials retailed by John Walker, 68 Cornhill and 230 Regent Street, London.
From other owners, a Ramsgate collector received a top estimate £1,500 from a Sussex dealer for an early 19th century French ormolu and green malachite mounted mantel clock in the “Empire” manner, the dial flanked by a standing ormolu figure of a classical woman with wreath and holding a scroll and a North Kent collector chose this sale to part with two late Victorian “Station Regulator” railway clocks by John Walker, of 1 South Molton Street, London.
The more valuable, which by repute had once hung in the booking hall at Cheam station, won an above estimate bid of £1,700. Powered by a single brass weight and a pendulum with heavy lead bob, the clock’s deadbeat escapement was contained in an oak case with architectural pediment that was once probably ebonised but now stripped and revarnished.
The other, formerly in service with British Rail (Southern) was similar but contained in a grained metal case and sold to the same Kent collector as its sister for £1,450.
The Canterbury Auction Galleries bumper pre Christmas Two Day Sale will be held this year in December 8-9 and entries of good quality antiques, fine art and collectors’ items are invited.
For people thinking of selling, the auctioneer holds free confidential saleroom valuation sessions every Friday morning on the premises at 40 Station Road West, Canerbury. Appointments are not necessary. For further information, please contact the auctioneers, telephone 01227 763337 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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