THE INVENTION OF THE
PENDULUM CLOCK


  
PART 1/4
 
The real story


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   PREFACE

One of the best documented inventions in history is the invention of the pendulum clock. At the same time it is one of the most disputed ones, especially so from the English side. For some reason this invention is of such importance that continuously claims are launched to appropriate it. We will represent here the real course of events, based on facts, scientifically accepted sources, archival documents, circumstances and events during the time of the invention.

The immediate reason to do this now is the magnificent and overwhelming exhibition

Innovation & Collaboration
The early development of the pendulum clock
in London


held at Bonhams in London between 3 and 14 September 2018; and particularly the catalogue published on the occasion of the exhibition. Where the exhibition exceeded all imagination on visualising early clock making in England, the catalogue falls short of any sense of reality.  An actual falsification of history is presented, based on half-truths, interpretations, speculations, suggestions and simply untruths.

Four quotes form the basis of our criticism and illustrate the above allegations: Four quotes form the basis of our criticism and illustrate the above allegations:

 The evident circumstances within which Fromanteel and Huygens senior were conceivably acquainted are compelling and the lack of evidence to this within Christiaan Huygens's autobiography or papers cannot be taken as evidence of absence of any contact between them; generally Huygens does not refer to craftsmen.” (1
 
And if credibility is given to the revised succession of events advanced at this exhibition, namely that Fromanteel was working on pendulum deployment with Christiaan Huygens from at least 1656, then by the time of the pendulum's commercial launch in autumn 1658, marked by the distribution of Huygens's Horologium in September (
Cat. 25) and Fromanteel's advertisement in October, Fromanteel would have passed the development stage and would have worked through a number of stages of movement design and layout. (2
 
A central revisionary tenet of this exhibition, namely that John Fromanteel, notwithstanding that he was technically still an apprentice, arrived at Coster’s in The Hague in September 1657 to teach (rather than be taught by) the Dutchman the mysteries of pendulum clock making, … (3
 
Under the new interpretation advanced in this exhibition, in which Huygens the inventor employed Ahasuerus Fromanteel, as the practical technician, to develop, construct, and perfect working models incorporating the Dutchman’s pendulum invention for the domestic market (as opposed to scientific market), it would seem expected, rather than merely coincidental, that the cases of the earliest pendulum clocks made in London and The Hague were so similar.
(4


There are many unfounded and unverified theories published in the last decades, but, as Christiaan Huygens himself wrote to the Lords of the States of The Netherlands when publishing Horologium in 1658:


“It is certain that elsewhere also will arise men, who will envy our little fame and perhaps try to convince themselves, but certainly the whole world,
that this invention is not due to the acuteness of our compatriots, but rather long before was brought to light by the zeal of themselves or one of their own
(5.

In this article we will set out the real story of the invention of the pendulum clock, based on all currently known sources.
We will do this by discussing the main characters: Christiaan Huygens as inventor, Ahasuerus Fromanteel I, the maker of the first pendulum clocks in England; his eldest son John Fromanteel; Salomon Coster, maker of the very first pendulum clock; the ‘Contract’ between Salomon Coster and John Fromanteel. And also by reproducing the historical context and developments, situations, sources, artifacts, clocks and how it all fits together.

All data will be discussed in chronological order as much as possible, but sometimes we have to jump back- or forward because of simultaneous developments in Holland or England. Obviously the playing field of the invention of the pendulum clock is much wider than discussed here, especially in relation to the developments between Holland and France and in France itself, but this part of the story is omitted here on purpose.


   INTRODUCTION

The start of the 80 year war between Spain and The Northern Dutch Provinces and especially the capture of Antwerp in 1585 by the Spanish troops, caused a stream of protestant ‘Flemish’ refugees to the north, but also a large group crossed over to England. Among them were the ancestors of Ahasuerus Fromanteel, who was born in Norwich in 1607 (6. In 1631 Ahasuerus joins the Blacksmiths’ Company, and in 1632 he becomes ‘Free brother’ with the newly founded Worshipful Company of Clockmakers. (7
He seems to have set up a flourishing workshop as instrument maker and lens grinder;
he also produced clocks commissioned by other makers. (8

We do not know exactly when Salomon Coster is born. Coster was a Mennonite, so there is no birth certificate. Several sources mention a date of 1622, which is an accepted guess by subtracting 21 year
s (9
 from his marriage date: Coster married Jannetje Harmens on March the 22nd, 1643 (10.

Christiaan Huygens 

Christiaan Huygens 1629-1695

Christiaan Huygens was born 14 April 1629, in a prosperous and distinguished family living in The Hague. His father, Constantijn Huygens (1596-1678), was a diplomat, secretary to the Princes of Orange, and also a poet and a composer. Christiaan had one older brother, Constantijn jr., two younger brothers and a younger sister.

Christiaan studied law and mathematics at Leiden University from 1645 to 1647, amongst others with the stimulating mathematician Frans van Schooten, with whom he would continue to correspond intensively until the death of the latter in 1660. After his time in Leiden Christiaan and his younger brother Lodewijk continued their education at the ‘Breda College of Orange’, the Illustrious school and Collegium Auriacum, where his father was a
curator(I.

As early as in 1649 Huygens publishes his first scientific work on hydrostatics. In the following years Huygens focuses on multiple mathematical issues (calculation of the length of curves and quadrature (area) of hyperboles, ellipses and circles), physical issues and astronomy (Jupiter's Moons, Saturn's Rings). (11

Johannes (John) Fromanteel is born ca. 1638 and first becomes apprenticed by his father.
The notes of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers of 5 April 1652 indicate, that 

John Fromanteel before the Court is bound to Ahasuerus Fromanteel as apprentice’. On 5 April 1659 ‘John Fromanteel becomes journeyman’ and on 6 July 1663 ‘
John is freed and becomes  Freeman’.
(12


   CORRESPONDENCE

In the run up to the publication in 1656 of Wallis’ book Arithmetica infinitorum, Christiaan Huygens and John Wallis have an extensive correspondence between June 1655 and September 1656. The last letter of Wallis to Huygens is from 22 August 1656 and Huygens’ answer to Wallis is from September 1656. No mention at all in the entire correspondence of anything horological. At this moment Wallis is the only Englishman Huygens is corresponding with. (
13 It takes over two years for another letter from John to Christiaan. (14

Confirmed by recently rediscovered and published information from English archives Ahasuerus Fromanteel I appears to have developed more and more into a technical instrument and apparatus maker. He produces pumps and fire engines, but also telescopes, boxes, lenses, hydrometers, blown glass 'laboratory' tools, automata, dredgers, etc. etc. Beside all this he also makes clocks.
(15

From the correspondence of Samuel Hartlib we now know that in the 1650’s Fromanteel is concentrating on the duration of clocks and their running as accurately as possible. In Fromanteels’ catalogue or list we can order ‘A watch or standing clock to goo a weecke or a month or a year with once winding up and yet to goo as true as one that is wound up every day’. He even makes a ‘rolling ball clock
(
16. In 1657 we read ‘… A clock of Fromantils … his new invented Clock of Motion to goe without being wound up a weeke or month or longer’. (17 Later the same year there is an announcement that ‘Fromantil hath made a clock that needs not be wound up within a month’.(18

Ahasuerus Fromanteel I receives the Freedom of the City of London on 14 January 1656 and subsequently, after intervention of Cromwell, the Lord Protector, also the Freedom of the Clockmakers’ Company. Only then he is allowed to make, sign and sell clocks himself in the City of London. (
19

In the period before the invention of the pendulum clock Christiaan Huygens is primarily concerned with mathematics and astronomy (see the correspondence in Oeuvres Complètes). He is mainly corresponding with people in Holland and France, like Frans van Schooten, Claude Mylon, Blaise Pascal, Gilles Personne de Roberval, Johannes Hevelius, Jean Chapelain.
(20

Chapelain

Jean Chapelain

Between 28 June and 19 December 1655 Christiaan is in Paris, together with his brother Lodewijk and cousin Philips Doublet(21. All 1656 and 1657 he is residing in Holland (The Hague) (22

On 25 December 1656 Christiaan Huygens has his Eureka moment by finding the application of the pendulum to the clock. On 26 December of the next year, he writes in a letter to Ismael Boulliau ‘Yesterday it was exactly a year ago that I made the first model of this type of clock…’.
(
23

In a letter of the 12th of January 1657 to his tutor the mathematician Professor Frans van Schooten we read ‘These days I found the construction of a clock of a new generation, with times so exact as the diameter, with its help I have no small hope to be able to determine the longitude at sea’.
(24

Christiaan writes to Claude Mylon on 1 February 1657 ‘I will also share with him a new invention, that must be of great use in astronomy, and that I hope to successfully use finding the longitudes. You will hear of it soon.’ With him is meant Monsieur Bulliaut - Ismaël Boulliau, at that moment secretary of the French ambassador in The Dutch Republic.
(
25



Ismaël Boulliau

Claude Mylon writes back to Christiaan on 12 April 1657 that his invention of the clock is found very beautiful by all whom he has told about it, and this will be even more so if Huygens can make it independent of weight or spring. Then nothing would stand in the way of solving the problem of longitude. (26

On 18 May 1657 Claude Mylon writes Huygens again that he is glad that Huygens is continuously perfecting his clock further, he fervently hopes it will be just as good at sea as in the room, and changes from dry to humid do not change it more than the change in weights. (27

Boxing Day 1657 Christiaan Huygens asks Boulliau, by then back in Paris, more details about the clock Ferdinando de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany allegedly had made, which shows a resemblance to Huygens’ invention, and whether this clock also has a pendulum.
This is the same letter in which Huygens tells it was exactly a year ago he made the first model of a pendulum clock, and started in June to show everyone interested the construction. He also writes he is busy with the conversion of the turret clock in Scheveningen. The pendulum is almost seven meters long (21 feet) and weighs approximately 20 kilo’s (40 or 50 pounds). By now he also urges Boulliau not to do anything in Paris, not by his own instructions or by anyone else’s …
(
28

Subsequently Huygens writes on 13 June 1658 in another letter to Boulliau he wants to apply for a patent in Paris as well. The application is prepared by the French ambassador in The Hague, so Boulliau can present it to the French Chancellor.
(
29 One week later (21 June) Boulliau answers Huygens that the French Chancellor Seguier has refused his request up to three times, as he does not want all French clockmakers coming after him screaming.(30

On 16 July 1658 Simon Douw applies for a patent for ‘his own invention’. Huygens and Coster together file a lawsuit against Douw
(II because of infringement of their patent.(31

On 6 September Huygens sends ‘Horologium’ to more than 60 scientists at home and abroad.
(32 The list includes two copies for Salomon Coster. Fromanteel is not on the list.

From the foregoing we can conclude Christiaan Huygens had a number of possible reasons to publish

Horologium
:
Rumours of a pendulum clock in Tuscany, the claim Galileo had invented this and Treffler made a clock following this principle.
The application for a patent by Douw and the process against him.
Refusal of the French Chancellor Seguier to grant Huygens his patent for the pendulum clock.

In the meantime, on 16 June 1657 Coster gains the privilege by the States General of the Dutch Republic. This means he is the only one allowed to use and sell a pendulum clock, invented by Christiaan Huygens and made available to Coster, in the Dutch Republic for a period of 21 years.(
33 This is officially ratified by the States of Holland and West-Friesland, the most important province, on 16 July 1657.(34 Huygens tells us later this is also the time he starts showing the construction to everyone interested.(35
On 3 September 1657 the ‘Contract’ between John Fromanteel (then still apprenticed to his father) and Salomon Coster, Master Clockmaker, is signed.
(
36 The agreement runs until May (meydage) 1658. Afterwards John returns to London.

Hartlib mentions in the early summer of 1658:

 
‘A Clock newly invented in the Low Countries that need only once to bee wound in 7 days and hath not failed to go exactly for many months together. It is made without a balance so that it will never change by any weather? Fromantil hearing of it, is endeavouring to make the selfe-same Clock. His clock presented to my Lord Protector is returned upon his owne hands'.(37

On 3 June the same Hartlib mentions in a letter to Robert Boyle (Irish philosopher and chemist/alchemist):

 
'Sir Robert Honeywood, lately arrived out of the Low Countries, tells of a singular invention found out there, of a clock that goes most exactly true without a balance, which needs not to be wound up but once in eight days, the price being 7lb sterling. Mr Palmer, who hath a shop as it were of all manner of inventions, is to have one shortly: and Fromantile hearing of it gives out confidently, that he is able to make the like, or rather to exceed it'. (
38

Fromaneel advertisment in the Mercurius Politicus

Fromanteel's advertisement October 1658

On 28 October 1658 Fromanteel publishes his famous advertisement in the Mercurius Politicus about the availability of a new type of clock. Right below this advertisement, there is a second one in which he recommends his new pump, that not only can quench fire, but also can spray pests from trees and hops, watering the gardens, clothes and the like. (39


 
THE CONTRACT AND THE LEARNING    AGREEMENTS
 

As already mentioned, the agreement between John Fromanteel and Salomon Coster is signed on 3 September 1657. At this time John is still apprenticed to his father for five years and is 19 years of age. Next to care for his employee (beer, fire and light), as a good employer should, to make his employee as productive as possible, Coster will pay John 20 Guilders for every completed piece of work and no more than 18½ Guilders if Coster supplies the copper and steel. (40 This is not a bad cost price if one considers the selling price of the Coster clocks then was minimal 80 Guilders. (41

Pieter Visbagh, another renowned Dutch clockmaker, is apprenticed to Coster from 1 May 1645 onwards for nine years. This is documented in the learning agreement between them,  drafted and signed almost a year later, on 31 January 1646. It is agreed that during the first three years of the agreement Pieter is not residing at Coster’s. After these three years Coster will provide board and lodging. In the 8th year Pieter will additionally receive a wage of 100 Guilders, doubled to 200 Guilders the next and last year. At the end of this apprenticeship Pieter is 21 years of age.
(42

In the learning agreement of Christiaan Reijnaert, aged 12 at the start (November 1655), we read: “… to live with and taken care of by the same, through food, drink, clothing, clean washing, everything that is needed for nourishment
(III. Coster will receive from the uncles of Christiaan 50 Guilders for the entire apprentice period of ten years. After completion of these ten years of apprenticeship Christiaan is not sent away just like that. He receives from Coster 100 Guilders and as much clothing as belongs to a ‘moral trousseau’.
After Salomon Coster’s death, when Pieter Visbagh takes over the workshop, he will also take over this agreement.
(43


   CONCLUSIONS

From the above mentioned historical resources, we learn that Christiaan Huygens is in The Hague all of 1656 and 1657. Ahasuerus Fromanteel I is the entire same period in London. We know Ahasuerus’ son John was also in The Hague from 3 September 1657 until 1 May 1658. However no correspondence, no connection and no other proof of anything else between Huygens and the Fromanteels can be found. The name Fromanteel does not occur even once in one of the first four volumes of Oeuvres Complètes (spanning 1638-1663). In contrast other ‘craftsmen’ are mentioned by Huygens frequently:

OC Huygens Vol.2 (1657-1659), pages:
Coster (Salomon). 125, 209, 235, 236, 241, 244, 245, 246, 247, 272, 281, 289, 290, 291, 314, 317, 327, 331, 372, 382, 419, 420, 439, 440, 473, 483, 486, 527, 540.
Hanet. 281, 294, 319, 372, 381, 382, 419, 454, 473, 483, 486, 527.

OC Huygens Vol.3 (1660-1661), pages:
Coster (Samuel). 4, 11, 84
Coster (Veuve Samuel) à Hartloop (Jannetje Hartmans) 4, 98, 284.
Hanet. 4, 8, 10, 16, 19, 23, 25, 50.
Treffler (Filippus). 483, 484.

OC Huygens Vol.4 (1662-1663), pages:
Hooke (Robert).
218, 221, 275, 320, 359, 366, 437,438.
Oosterwyk (Severyn). 324, 411, 418, 424, 430, 434, 452, 456, 460, 477, 478.
Thuret. 110, 270.

If Fromanteel would have been involved in the very early development of the pendulum clock, right after the invention, some reference should have been found in the very extensive collection of correspondence of Christiaan Huygens in Oeuvres Complètes or in the Dutch and English Archives.
Even if an apprentice of 19 years of age, John Fromanteel, needed a period of 8 months to explain how to make a pendulum clock to Salomon Coster, more than 12 years a Master Clockmaker, where did John Fromanteel get this knowledge? His father? Without any demonstrable connection to Christiaan Huygens?
There is only the ‘Contract’ between John Fromanteel and Coster, which is not much different from any of the other learning or apprenticeship agreements. It also does not differ much from and is very comparable with a modern internship towards the end of a training, with the benefit for Coster of an already more experienced assistant and for Fromanteel to learn about the new sensation: the pendulum clock.

By all means, Fromanteel seems too commercial, certainly in view of his list and the advertisements, to settle only for the very minimal and even nowadays unknown and unproven benefit of scientific satisfaction. Was it not just the information his son John brought back from The Hague, that he needed to make a pendulum clock?
Do we not get a very logical sequence of events, also substantiated by all historical sources: End of ‘Contract’ in May 1658 à John and Ahasuerus build their own version of the pendulum clock during the summer
à Huygens publishes and circulates Horologium in September 1658 à Fromanteel publishes his advertisement in October 1658.

Huygens’ invention of the pendulum clock, in the form of Coster clocks, spreads at a tremendous ‘commercial’ pace all over Europe, well before the advertisement by Fromanteel. We know that before the end of 1657 a ‘Coster clock’ is in Tuscany. In an inventory of 1690 a clock signed by Coster is mentioned to have arrived on 25 September 1657, as the first pendulum clock in Italy. Treffler used this clock as example to make his own. The movement of this latter clock is still existent today
.
(44  From Huygens’ correspondence we know a great many pendulum clocks are shipped from The Hague to Paris, mainly by mediation of Nicolas Hanet.

We know nothing, no clock or movement, description, correspondence, nor any other source or anything else that would give a reason to put the very first development of the pendulum clock with Fromanteel. There is no direct proof at all. Moreover, any activity regarding pendulum clocks from Huygens and/or Holland to England dates only after 1660, when the trials with pendulum clocks at sea start. Christiaan Huygens comes over to England for the first time in 1661.
(45 Only on this trip, in 1661, Christiaan visits the workshop of Fromanteel, together with John Evelyn. (46 But even then several of these ‘regulators’ are being imported from The Hague to England. (47

Evelyn

John Evelyn

On the other hand we know Coster and Huygens immediately after the invention started to work on further improvements and applications of the pendulum clock. One of their common projects is the turret clock of the church in Scheveningen. On Boxing Day 1657 Huygens indicates he is working on the conversion of the clock.  On 23 January 1658 Coster writes to Huygens that he is busy working on the clock in Scheveningen, the clock has run all night, the pendulum weight is 50 pounds, but Coster wants to make several changes, as the movement runs a quarter of an hour slow in 14 hours. He will take a look again next day.(48

Of the currently known early pendulum clocks, none, neither from Coster nor from Fromanteel, are ‘scientific’ clocks. The earliest known clocks with a ‘three foot pendulum’ all have a ‘scientific dial’ (large minute ring, small hour ring, and a (small) seconds ring) all date from around or just after 1670, when this layout was first seen on the second edition of sea clocks. The movements of all these scientific clocks are all in line with the design presented in letters from Huygens around that time and, a bit later, also published in Horologium Oscillatorum. The well-known drawing exactly represents the layout of the movement of all presently known clocks of this type. (49 The movement of Huygens’ own clock, signed Thuret à Paris, currently in the collection of Museum Boerhaave, fully meets this requirement. Again, no sign of Fromanteel being involved in any of this; never does he anywhere claim the invention. He also never applies for a patent in England.
endsection

Also the connection between the Huygens family and Ahasuerus Fromanteel through Cornelius Drebbel is unlikely and illogical. Constantijn Huygens sr. and Drebbel have met when they were both in London in 1621/22.(50 As a result Huygens sr. developed and kept a more than average interest in Drebbel’s inventions. In 1622 Fromanteel was only 15 years of age, while Christiaan was not even born.

Drebbel died in 1633. From the ‘Hartlib Papers’ we know no more than that Fromanteel once made a box for Drebbel’s lenses and later started to make lenses himself.(51 No more, no less. Even more far-fetched is the claim Fromanteel was in Prague with Drebbel to study German clock making. When we know for certain Drebbel was in Prague in 1610, Fromanteel was only 3 years of age, far too young to show already any signs of a promising clockmaker. Later trips are nowhere confirmed and also then Fromanteel would not have reached the apprentice age yet. Anything here is purely speculative.
Both father and son Huygens do not mention the name Fromanteel anywhere in their extensively recorded correspondence. Once again any relation is purely speculative.

End of this section, click here to continue.


   NOTES

   
 I  A member of the Supervisory Board of a higher educational institution.
 II   Simon Douw (ca.1620-1663) 'Horlogiemaecker der Stadt Rotterdam', clockmaker of the city of Rotterdam. Amongst others he built the movement for the clock of the Rotterdam Exchange (1660-1663) and converted the turret clocks of the 'Geertekerk' in Utrecht (1659) and the 'Grote Kerk' of Dordrecht (1663) to pendulum.
 III   “te woonen ende van denselven besorcht te werden van cost, dranck, cleedinge, ende reyne bewassen, bewrevingen, alle ‘tgeene wes tot onderhout sal vereisschen”
 


 
  1 Richard Garnier & Leo Hollis, "Innovation & Collaboration, The early development of the pendulum clock in London", 2018, 63
 2   Richard Garnier & Leo Hollis, "Innovation & Collaboration, The early development of the pendulum clock in London", 2018, 70
3    Richard Garnier & Leo Hollis, "Innovation & Collaboration, The early development of the pendulum clock in London", 2018, 83
 4   Richard Garnier & Leo Hollis, "Innovation & Collaboration, The early development of the pendulum clock in London", 2018, 84
5   Christiaan Huygens, "Horologium", Preface, Translated from Latin: Tijdschrift voor Horlogemakers, 1e Jaargang No.5 1 Maart 1903
6    Anita McConnell, "Fromanteel, Ahasuerus (bap. 1607, d. 1693)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, online reference / Richard Garnier & Leo Hollis, "Innovation & Collaboration, The early development of the pendulum clock in London", 2018, 72
 7   Brian Loomes, "Country Clocks and their London origins", 1976, 34-35
 8   Hans Kreft, "Rediscovering the Fromanteel Story", article in the Dutch Kunst & Antiekjournaal (August 2003), lecture at Schoonhoven NL (September 2003), published Horological Foundation website, where translated and adapted by R.K.Piggott.
 9   Marriage certificate Salomon Coster - Jannetje Harmens, Gemeentearchief Delft, Collection DTB nr. 14, inv. 125, fol 109, Archive research and transcription performed by Victor Kersing and Rob Memel.
 10   Victor Kersing en Rob Memel, "Salomon Coster, de Haagse periode", lecture AHS-DS 10 May 2014; article Tijdschrift 4, December 2014
 11  Charlotte Lemmens, Constantijn & Christiaan, "Een Gouden Erfenis - Het leven van Christiaan Huygens 1629-1695", 139-159
12    Jeremy Lancelotte Evans, "Clockmakers’ Company Masters and their Apprentices.", Transcribed from Atkins’ list of 1931, 56.
13    Oevres Complètes de Christiaan Huygens, Tome Premier, correspondance 1638-1656, Martinus Nijhoff, 1888
 14   Oevres Complètes de Christiaan Huygens, Tome Deuxième, correspondance 1657-1659, Martinus Nijhoff, 1889, No. 497
 15   Rebecca Pohancenik, "The Intelligencer and the Instrument Maker: Early communications in the development of the pendulum clock", Antiquarian Horology, Volume 31 no 6, (December 2009), 750.
 16   HP 71/19/1A. In this article I made use of the work and the article of Rebecca Pohancenik, "The Intelligencer and the Instrument Maker: Early communications in the development of the pendulum clock", Antiquarian Horology, Volume 31 no 6, (December 2009), 756.
 17   HP 29/6/1A-12B. In this article I made use of the work and the article of Rebecca Pohancenik, "The Intelligencer and the Instrument Maker: Early communications in the development of the pendulum clock", Antiquarian Horology, Volume 31 no 6, (December 2009), 753.
 19   Brian Loomes, "Country Clocks and their London origins", 1976, 38-39
18   HP 29/6/13A. In this article I made use of the work and the article of Rebecca Pohancenik, "The Intelligencer and the Instrument Maker: Early communications in the development of the pendulum clock", Antiquarian Horology, Volume 31 no 6, (December 2009), 753.
20    Oevres Complètes de Christiaan Huygens, Tome Premier, correspondance 1638-1656, Martinus Nijhoff, 1888
 21   Oevres Complètes de Christiaan Huygens, Tome Premier, correspondance 1638-1656, Martinus Nijhoff, 1888, p. 335 note 1 and Oevres Complètes de Christiaan Huygens, Tome Quinzième, Observations Astronomiques. 1658-1666, Martinus Nijhoff, 1925, p. 193
 22   Oevres Complètes de Christiaan Huygens, Tome Premier, correspondance 1638-1656, Martinus Nijhoff, 1888
23   Oevres Complètes de Christiaan Huygens, Tome Deuxième, correspondance 1657-1659, Martinus Nijhoff, 1889, No. 443
24    Oevres Complètes de Christiaan Huygens, Tome Deuxième, correspondance 1657-1659, Martinus Nijhoff, 1889, No. 368
   

 

 

  Back to end of previous section.


    THE CLOCKS

The early pendulum clocks still existent today are all of the same, nowadays well known  type. A wooden case with a single chapter ring and central hour and minute hands.
In Holland we see a continued adherence to the principles of the first clocks, one single barrel for both going and striking train, a velvet covered dial plate, signature below the chapter ring (creating a rectangular dial plate) on a tip-up signature shield hanging over an access hole in the dial plate for starting the pendulum. The pendulum is suspended from a small wire and trapped in a crutch connected to the verge escapement. The entire movement is hanging on the dial plate which turns out to the front, there is no backdoor.
In England, fairly quickly after the invention makes the crossing, there is an independent development. There is no velvet on the square dial plate. We see spandrels in the corners around the chapter ring and a quick return of the use of a fusee next to the spring barrel, in combination with a pendulum directly fixed to the verge. The signature is engraved directly on the dial plate. The movement will almost immediately get a separate barrel for both going and striking train. After the first ‘box’ clocks the movement is mounted in the case and soon after the case is also provided with a back door.

Every artefact, made in a certain period, inherits innovations, customs and developments from an earlier period. All clocks in the 2nd half of the 17th century have to do with the legacy and influence of Italy and the German empire of the 16th and early 17th century. The renaissance clocks, arts and objects from this era and area influence all subsequent developments or these later developments revert to these. For instance the use of wooden cases, spring barrels and architectural designs are a direct illustration of this.

Less clear but certainly remarkable are the ‘square pillars’ used by Coster for his movements and the rapid change to ‘turned pillars’ by Fromanteel (we know only five Fromanteel signed clocks with ‘square pillars’).(52 Then anew the application of a fusee in combination with a spring barrel by Fromanteel, and his making use of iron hands are other examples of this influence, while Coster switches to silver or gilded brass hands.

When we compare the movements of this period, we cannot miss the obvious developments in time. Coster dies too early to say anything about the further development from his part and we also do not see much development of the movements from his successors (Oosterwijck, Visbagh, Hanet en Reijnaert). But we clearly do see rapid developments at the English side. Here the movements evolve immensely in increasing duration, in the addition of striking and musical works, calendars and other complications and of course, after a few years, the introduction of the anchor escapement.

Therefore we can only conclude we have to use another dating of the earliest pendulum clocks as used in the exhibition and catalogue. This different dating, by the way, is generally used and accepted in most other sources and literature as well.

 Salomon Coster

1657
Salomon Coster Haghe met privilege 1657
(N1) Museum Boerhaave, Leiden

  Salomon Coster Haghe  (1657)

1657
Salomon Coster Haghe met privilege 1657
(N2) Collection Zuylenburgh - Bert Degenaar

 Salomon Coster 

1658
Salomon Coster Haghe met privilege 1658
(N5) Collection John C. Taylor

 Salomon Coster Haghea                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Salomon Coster Haghe 1658

1658
Salomon Coster Haghe Met privilege
(N4) Science Museum, London

 Fromanteel Lyme-park collection
1658
A. Fromanteel London Fecit 1658
“Lyme Park Fromanteel”
Collection The National Trust



1659
A Fromanteel Londini
Collection John C. Taylor

 

1659
A Fromanteel Londini
“Bass Fromanteel” Private collection



1659
Salomon Coster Haghe Met privilege
(N8) Collection Museum of the Dutch Clock



1659
Simon Bartram
Collection John C. Taylor




1659-1660
Salomon Coster Haghe Met privilege
(N10) Former collection Mario Crijns




1659-1660
Ahasuerus Fromanteel Londini fecit
Private collection



1659-1660
Ahasuerus Fromanteel
Londini Fecit
Collection John C. Taylor



   TIMELINE

25 Feb. 1607

Ahasuerus Fromanteel I born in Norwich

14 Apr. 1628

Christiaan Huygens born in The Hague

1631

Ah. Fromanteel I joins the Blacksmiths’ Company

Nov. 1632

Ah. Fromanteel I joins the Clockmakers’ Company by redemption (purchase) as Free Brother

Ca. 1638

Johannes (John) Fromanteel born

5 Apr. 1652

John Fromanteel is bound before the Court to his father as apprentice

Jun. 1655 –
Sep. 1656

In the run up to the publication in 1656 of Wallis’ book Arithmetica infinitorum, Christiaan Huygens and John Wallis have an extensive  correspondence on Mathematics. At that moment Wallace is the only Englishman Christiaan is corresponding with.

28 Jun.1655 –Dec.1655

Chr. Huygens is in Paris (together with his younger brother Lodewijk and cousin Philips Doublet)

1656 & 1657

Chr. Huygens is in Holland (The Hague). Ah. Fromanteel I is in London.

14 Jan. 1656

Ah. Fromanteel I receives the Freedom of the City of London and subsequently, after intervention of Cromwell, the Lord Protector, also the Freedom of the Clockmakers’ Company. Only then he is allowed to make, sign and sell clocks himself in the City of London.

25 Dec. 1656

Chr. Huygens invents the application of the pendulum to the clock.

1657 1st half

Hartlib records, 'Mr Palmer of Gray’s Inn hath Mr. Fosters new invented Dial. A clock of Fromantils of 200lb who will have ready within 6 weekes his new invented Clock of Motion to goe without being wound up a weeke or month or longer'.

12 Jan. 1657

Christiaan Huygens writes his former tutor, the mathematician Professor Frans van Schooten ‘These days I found the construction of a clock of a new generation, with times so exact as the diameter, with its help I have no small hope to be able to determine the longitude at sea’

1 Feb. 1657

Chr. Huygens writes to Claude Mylon
 ‘I will also share with him1 a new invention, that must be of great use in astronomy, and that I hope to successfully use finding the longitudes. You will hear of it soon.’
1 With him is meant Ismaël Boulliau, at that moment secretary of the French ambassador in The Dutch Republic.

25 Feb. 1657

The Clockmakers' Company still at loggerheads with Thomas Loomes, he being ordered by the Lord Mayor, at the Company’s behest, to desist from having five apprentices; Ahasuerus Fromanteel attended the meeting, afterwards feeling the need to apologise for his intemperate language in a letter of March 3, 1657

12 Apr. 1657

Claude Mylon writes to Christiaan Huygens that his invention of the clock is found very beautiful by all whom he has told about it, and this will be even more so if Huygens can make it independent of weight or spring. Then nothing would stand in the way of solving the problem of longitude.

18 May 1657

Claude Mylon writes Huygens that he is glad that Huygens is continuously perfecting his clock further, he fervently hopes it will be just as good at sea as in the room and changes from dry to humid do not change it more than the change in weights.

16 Jun. 1657

Salomon Coster gains the privilege by the State General of the Dutch Republic. This means he is the only one allowed to use and sell a pendulum clock, invented by Christiaan Huygens and made available to Coster, in the Dutch Republic for a period of 21 years.

16 Jul. 1657

The States of Holland and West-Friesland officially ratify the patent.

3 Sep. 1657

Contract signed at The Hague, The Netherlands, between John Fromanteel of London (then still nominally an apprentice to his father) and Salomon Coster of The Hague. Fromanteel under the contract to remain at Coster's expense, making clocks, until May 1658, a secret meanwhile to be revealed.

26 Dec. 1657

Christiaan Huygens asks Boulliau, by then back in Paris, more details about the clock Ferdinando de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany allegedly had made, which shows a resemblance to Huygens’ invention and whether this clock also has a pendulum.
This is also the letter in which Huygens indicates it was exactly a year ago he made the first model of a pendulum clock, and he started to show everyone interested the construction in June 1657.
He also indicates he is busy with the conversion of the turret clock in Scheveningen; the pendulum is almost 7 meters long and weighs about 20 kilos. 
By now he also urges Boulliau not to do anything in Paris, not by his own instructions or by anyone else’s …

1658 early May

John Fromanteel returns to London from Coster's workshop in The Hague, The Netherlands

1658 early summer

Hartlib reports ‘A Clock newly invented in the Low Countries that need only once to bee wound in 7 days and hath not failed to go exactly for many months together. It is made without a balance so that it will never change
by any weather? Fromantil hearing of it, is endeavouring to make the selfe-same Clock. His clock presented to my Lord Protector is returned upon his owne hands'

3 Jun. 1658

Hartlib letter to Robert Boyle, saying, 'Sir Robert Honeywood, lately arrived out of the Low Countries, tells of a singular invention found out there, of a clock that goes most exactly true without a balance, which needs not to be wound up but once in eight days, the price being 7lb sterling. Mr Palmer, who hath a shop as it were of all manner of inventions, is to have one shortly: and Fromantile hearing of it gives out confidently, that he is able to make the like, or rather to exceed it'

13 Jun. 1658

Christiaan Huygens writes in a letter to Boulliau that he wants to apply for a patent in Paris too. The application is prepared by the French ambassador in The Hague, so Boulliau can present it to the French Chancellor ...

21 Jun. 1658

Boulliau answers Huygens that the French Chancellor Seguier has refused up to three times his previous request, as he does not want all French clockmakers coming after him screaming.

16 Jul. 1658

Simon Douw applies for a patent for ‘his own invention’. Huygens and Coster together file a lawsuit against Douw because of infringement of their patent.

6 Sep. 1658

Publication and distribution of Horologium by Christiaan Huygens;

28 Oct. 1658

Ahasuerus Fromanteel advertises availability of newly-invented pendulum clocks in Mercurius Politicus


   John Wallis (Ashford, 22 November 1616 - Oxford, 28 October 1703) was an English mathematician. The most important of Wallis's works, Arithmetica John Wallisinfinitorum, was published in 1656. In this treatise he showed how algebraic methods could be applied to geometrical situations (after Descartes), like the calculation of the area under the curve.
He did preparational work in differential and integral calculus. Using patterns in finite processes, he sought formulas for infinite processes. He was an example for many mathematicians, such as Newton, who built on Wallis' differential and integral calculus.


Samuel Hartlib or Hartlieb (c. 1600 – 10 March 1662) was a versatile German-British scientist. As an active promoter and expert writer in many fields, he was interested in science, medicine, agriculture, politics and education.Samuel Hartlib Hartlib had the purpose of "registering all human knowledge and making it available for study to all mankind". Before that, he had contact with anyone in the age of the Commonwealth who meant intellectual matters and was responsible for patents, disseminating information and promoting education, passing on designs for calculators, double-script instruments, seed machines and siege machines. His letters, in German and English, are still the subject of study ...

   Cornelis Jacobszoon Drebbel (1572 – 7 November 1633) was a Dutch engineer and inventor. He was the builder of the first navigable submarine in 1620 and an innovator who contributed to the development of measurement and control systems, optics, chemistry, and the ‘perpetuum mobile’, a device with eternal movement.
In 1598 he obtained a patent for a water-supply system and a sort of perpetual clockwork.
Around 1605 the Drebbel family moved to England, probably at the invitation of the new king, James I of England (VI of Scotland). He was accommodated at Eltham Palace. Drebbel worked there at the masques, that were perfCornelius Drebbelormed by and for the court. He was attached to the court of young Renaissance crown-prince Henry. He astonished the court with his inventions.
Between 1610 and 1613 Drebbel resides on invitation of Rudolf II at the court in Prague.
When Rudolf II was stripped of all effective power by his younger brother Archduke Matthias, Drebbel was imprisoned for about a year. After Rudolf's death in 1612, Drebbel was eventually set free and went back to London.
In 1619 Drebbel showed a composite microscope to the Dutch ambassador in London, Willem Boreel.
When in England, Constantijn Huygens, father of Christiaan, was a regular visitor to Drebbel. Between 1618 and 1624 Huygens sr. visited England several times, as a diplomat in training. From Drebbel he bought a camera obscura and a microscope.
Constantijn Huygens transferred his interest in optics to his two oldest sons. Christiaan had a booklet from Drebbel.
After the death of King James I, Drebbel was employed in the service of the navy between 1626 and 1628 by Charles I, but without much success. As a result of which he lost his job and income in 1628. Towards the end of his life, Drebbel was working as innkeeper an brewer. He died in 1633.


Rules of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers


Minimum age ‘apprenticeship’ is 14 years. Duration of the ‘apprenticeship’ is 7 years. After completion of the 7th year ‘apprenticeship’ the apprentice becomes a ‘journeyman’ for a period of minimum 2 years After the ‘journeyman’ period the ‘journeyman’ can become a ‘Freeman’ by paying the ‘entry fee’.
During the ‘apprenticeship’ the apprentice is bound to his ‘master’, but is allowed to service another ‘master’ during this period. In the ‘journeyman’ period the ‘journeyman’ had to work for one single ‘master’ as ‘workman’, for a period of 2 years, before he could set up a business himself. During the ‘apprenticeship’ and ‘journeyman’ periods he is not allowed to sign under his own name, the clock had to be signed under the name of the 'master' that was served. 

 



  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

March 2019, Copyright:

(This article is subject to ongoing revisions.)


  LINKS

Chr. Huygens' Œuvres Complètes. (pdf)

Chr. Huygens Horologium 1658. (pdf)


 

   Notes continued:
   
 25   Oevres Complètes de Christiaan Huygens, Tome Deuxième, correspondance 1657-1659, Martinus Nijhoff, 1889, No. 370
 26   Oevres Complètes de Christiaan Huygens, Tome Deuxième, correspondance 1657-1659, Martinus Nijhoff, 1889, No. 382
 27   Oevres Complètes de Christiaan Huygens, Tome Deuxième, correspondance 1657-1659, Martinus Nijhoff, 1889, No. 388
 28   Oevres Complètes de Christiaan Huygens, Tome Deuxième, correspondance 1657-1659, Martinus Nijhoff, 1889, No. 443
  29  Oevres Complètes de Christiaan Huygens, Tome Deuxième, correspondance 1657-1659, Martinus Nijhoff, 1889, No. 490
 30   Oevres Complètes de Christiaan Huygens, Tome Deuxième, correspondance 1657-1659, Martinus Nijhoff, 1889, No. 492
  31   Oevres Complètes de Christiaan Huygens, Tome Deuxième, correspondance 1657-1659, Martinus Nijhoff, 1889, Appendice IV bij No. 523
  31   Oevres Complètes de Christiaan Huygens, Tome Deuxième, correspondance 1657-1659, Martinus Nijhoff, 1889, Appendice IV bij No. 523
 32   Oevres Complètes de Christiaan Huygens, Tome Deuxième, correspondance 1657-1659, Martinus Nijhoff, 1889, No. 511
 33   Oevres Complètes de Christiaan Huygens, Tome Deuxième, correspondance 1657-1659, Martinus Nijhoff, 1889, Appendice II bij No. 523
 34   Oevres Complètes de Christiaan Huygens, Tome Deuxième, correspondance 1657-1659, Martinus Nijhoff, 1889, Appendice III bij No. 523
 35   Oevres Complètes de Christiaan Huygens, Tome Deuxième, correspondance 1657-1659, Martinus Nijhoff, 1889, No. 443
 36   Haags Gemeentearchief - Toegangsnummer Oud notarieel 0372-01, inv. 322, fol. 409. Archive research and transcription performed by Victor Kersing and Rob Memel.
 37   Rebecca Pohancenik, "The Intelligencer and the Instrument Maker: Early communications in the development of the pendulum clock", Antiquarian Horology, Volume 31 no 6, (December 2009), 753.
 38   The works of the Honourable Robert Boyle, ed T. Birch (London. 1744), Vol. VI, pp.110-11. In this article I made use of the work and the article of Rebecca Pohancenik, "The Intelligencer and the Instrument Maker: Early communications in the development of the pendulum clock", Antiquarian Horology, Volume 31 no 6, (December 2009), 754.
 39   Mercurius Politicus, issue number 439, October 21-28, 1658; as reproduced in Penney, op.cit., 619-620. In this article I made use of the work and the article of David Penney, "The Earliest Pendulum Clocks: A Re-Evaluation", Antiquarian Horology, Volume 31 No 5, (September 2009), 614-620.
 40   Haags Gemeentearchief - Toegangsnummer Oud notarieel 0372-01, inv. 322, fol. 409. Archive research and transcription performed by Victor Kersing and Rob Memel.
 41   Oevres Complètes de Christiaan Huygens, Tome Deuxième, correspondance 1657-1659, Martinus Nijhoff, 1889, No. 565
 42   Haags Gemeentearchief - Toegangsnummer Oud notarieel 0372-01, inv. 20, fol. 321. Archive research and transcription performed by Victor Kersing and Rob Memel.
  43  Haags Gemeentearchief - Toegangsnummer Oud notarieel 0372-01, inv. 110, fol. 63. Archive research and transcription performed by Victor Kersing and Rob Memel.
 44   R. Plomp, "Spring-driven Dutch pendulum clocks 1657-1710", Interbook (Schiedam), 1979, 15
 45   Oevres Complètes de Christiaan Huygens, Tome Troisième, correspondance 1660-1661, Martinus Nijhoff, 1889 No. 852 note 1
 46   John Evelyn, "The Diary of John Evelyn", 1901, 346
 47   Oevres Complètes de Christiaan Huygens, Tome Troisième, correspondance 1660-1661, Martinus Nijhoff, 1889, No. 868
 48   Oevres Complètes de Christiaan Huygens, Tome Deuxième, correspondance 1657-1659, Martinus Nijhoff, 1889, No. 452
 49  Christiaan Huygens, "Horologium Oscilatorum", 1673, Pars Prima
 50   “Briefwisseling van Constantijn Huygens” edited by J.A. Worp (old edition) - Part 1, 1608-1634, GS 15 p. LIV
  51  Worsley to Hartlib, 22 June 1648, HP 42/1/1 A. In this article I made use of the work and the article of Rebecca Pohancenik, "The Intelligencer and the Instrument Maker: Early communications in the development of the pendulum clock", Antiquarian Horology, Volume 31 no 6, (December 2009), 750.
 52  Richard Garnier & Leo Hollis, "Innovation & Collaboration, The early development of the pendulum clock in London", 2018, 144.
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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