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Tabernacle clock: M.17-1940

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Tabernacle clock


Production: Anonymous



Tabernacle clock, gilt. The clock consists of the case and the plates of the movement only.

Dial: Gilt dial plate and brass chapter ring, which would have been silvered originally; engraved I - XII in roman numerals with half and quarter hour markings on inner edge and touch pins for the hours except XII. The gilt dial plate within the chapter ring engraved with a sun in splendour. The simple iron hand with an arrow-shaped pointer.

Movement: Movement was spring-driven with hour striking and alarm, but the trains of wheels are now completely missing. The iron frame consists of turned corner posts secured to the top and bottom plates with nuts, and with wide iron train bars pinned in position. The count wheel has survived and consists of an elaborately pierced iron wheel with a gilt brass rim with the slots numbered 1 - 12, the numbers partly obliterated by subsequent deepening of the slots. The movement had been con¬verted to pendulum.

Case: Of gilt brass, profusely engraved. Winding holes in the back had been crudely blocked with copper plugs, but these have now been removed as they were causing corrosion. The case is surmounted by a gilt bell and finial, the bell being surrounded by four pierced and engraved frets. The finial, bell stand and frets are all of late date. An applied moulding divides each side of the case into an approximately square upper panel and a smaller lower one. There is a flared-out base which is supported on four bun feet. Each upper panel is framed by engraved pilas¬ters supporting a flattened arch and the lower part of the front upper panel or dial plate is occupied by a townscape. The left side depicts Venus and is so inscribed, whilst the right side shows Luna and the rear panel Mars. These were copied from a series of engravings entitled The Seven Planets with the Zodiacs by Hans Sebald Beham (1500-1550). In this series Luna is dated 1539. Examples of these engravings are held by the Museum.

The lower panels each have a pilaster at each end similar to those on the upper panels and are filled with foliate scrolls and ribbons, the latter inscribed with Psalm 119 verse 98, reading from right to left and taken from Martin Luther's trans¬lation of 1534, and bearing the date ‘1552'. A scratch across the ‘2' makes this resemble an ‘8'.

Measurements and weight

Height: 17.3 cm
Height: 6 7/8 in

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given by Rothwell, E., Miss


16th Century, Mid
Production date: AD 1552

Components of the work

Case composed of gilt brass
Bell composed of gilt
Finial composed of gilt

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: M.17-1940
Primary reference Number: 167421
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Monday 13 May 2019 Last processed: Friday 8 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Tabernacle clock" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-02-24 20:55:24

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{{cite web|url= |title=Tabernacle clock |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-02-24 20:55:24|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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