Mantel clock by John Denne, c 1820 (SOLD)

‘Clockmaker Denne and the Widow Rich’

It was common practice in the Georgian era for clockmakers to contract out the manufacture of various components of their products to local specialist craftsmen, particularly in London. One of the best records of this use of outworkers is found in the workbooks of Vulliamy and Sons between 1799 and 1814, now housed in the Public Records Office.

Of special interest is the man who probably made most of Vulliamy’s bracket clock cases, Mr Rich at the Sign of the Sun, Long Acre. The quality of cabinet making in these pieces and especially their use of exotic timbers, has seldom been surpassed. There is reason to believe that a father and son were involved in the business and in the latter period, Vulliamy addressed letters to “The Widow Rich”.

Like all subcontractors, Rich would have worked for other Central London makers and we think we can recognise his handiwork in the case of an elegant little mantel timepiece in brass-bound rosewood by John Denne, which we recently acquired. Denne is recorded as working at 6, Orange Street, Bloomsbury from 1811-1819 and 1820-3 at 28 Lambs Conduit Street. The clock is 8 ½” high, sits on acorn feet and has a silvered dial signed in the cartouche at the later address, with the serial number 23.

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