THE INVENTION OF THE
PENDULUM CLOCK


  
PART 2/4 
The workshop of
Salomon Coster


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  COSTER'S WORKSHOP & COWORKERS

In the period between mid-1657, when Coster got the Patent (Privilege) to make pendulum clocks according to Huygens’ invention, and end-1659, when Coster suddenly died, several clockmakers worked in Coster’s workshop. His coworkers were Christiaan Reijnaert (apprenticed from November 1655), John Fromanteel (apprenticed from September 1657 till May 1658), Nicolas Hanet, and Severijn Oosterwijck.

Over the past decades there has been an on-going and interesting debate about the involvement of particularly one of these apprentices, John Fromanteel, in the development and production of the clocks in Coster’s workshop. The paramount question is: Is it possible to attribute any of the Coster clocks to one specific clockmaker in his workshop?

On the basis of historical facts and by comparing technical details of clocks and movements we hope to bring more clarity in this matter.

The Coster clocks discussed in this article are limited to Coster clock N1, N2, N4, N5 and N10 (1. Coster clocks N3 and N8 are being disregarded in this article, for reasons of uncertain authenticity.



fig. 1


Fig. 2




fig. 3

Salomon Coster (N5)
Timepiece with alarm. Duration 30 hours.
The only known Coster clock with alarm work.



Fig. 4


Fig. 5

Salomon Coster (N10)
Going and striking on one barrel.
Duration 30 hours.



fig. 6


fig. 7

Nicolas Hanet going and striking on one barrel.
 Duration 2 days.




fig. 8



fig. 9
Severijn Oosterwijck N9
Going and striking trains on one barrel.
Duration 30 hours.


  FROMANTEEL OR COSTER

John Fromanteel (2, born in 1638, was apprenticed to his father Ahasuerus Fromanteel, on the 5th of April 1652, for a period of seven years. During his apprenticeship he served, according to the rules of the Clockmakers’ Company, under master clockmaker Salomon Coster for a period of eight months starting in September 1657 and ending in May 1658. In the period after his departure in 1658 until the death of Coster in December 1659 no reference to John Fromanteel is found In the Oeuvres Complètes (3 nor in the public archives in the Netherlands. We may therefore assume, that John Fromanteel was not involved in the further development of the pendulum clock in Holland.

There are three early clocks known by Fromanteel, which show features resembling Coster clocks: the so-called 1658 Lyme Park Movement, the 1658/1659 Bass Fromanteel and the 1658/1659 Taylor Fromanteel.


LYME PARK MOVEMENT

The oldest known movement, the Lyme Park Movement (National Trust) (4, was discovered in about 1940, in a very bad condition. The case was lost, the movement had been converted to anchor and only a small section of the original dial remained with its original hands.  

Fromanteel Lyme-park

fig. 10
1658, A. Fromanteel London Fecit 1658
“Lyme Park Fromanteel”
Collection The National Trust

 Fromanteel Lyme Park movement

fig 11.
 A. Fromanteel London Fecit 1658
“Lyme Park Fromanteel”
Collection The National Trust

The movement was restored and reconstructed by Mr Charles Hobson (5. All parts above the contrate pinion were replaced in the style of Dutch work with a new horizontal crown wheel and verge. A silk suspended pendulum and cycloid cheeks were added. According to Mr. Ronald A. Lee, during the restoration Hobson had to drill and tap extra holes to mount cheeks in the style of Dutch work that had not been there originally (6. Mr. J.W. Parkes made a new dial similar to the original. The chapter ring was copied from an authentic Dutch ring, but unfortunately wrong engraved with the figures 0-60 twice. The new case was constructed in the Architectural style in the tradition of the 1660’s. The movement is signed A Fromanteel London fecit 1658. The date is not placed centrally giving the impression, that it was an afterthought.


 BASS FROMANTEEL

The verge is pivoted on the front plate and back cock: the latter being original but modified to accept a silk suspended pendulum with the original bob(7. The minute hand is a replacement copied from the Taylor Fromanteel.

 

Fig. 12
1659. A Fromanteel Londini
“Bass Fromanteel” Private collection

 

Fig. 13
1659. A Fromanteel Londini
“Bass Fromanteel” Private collection

endsection


Fig. 14
1659. A Fromanteel Londini
“Bass Fromanteel” Private collection


End of this section, click here to continue.


 



   TAYLOR FROMANTEEL

The Taylor Fromanteel (8 is the most authentic of the three clocks. The pallet arbor is a replacement (9 and there is an unidentified hole in the top of the back cock. The engraved cartouche above the chapter ring with initials 16 E+W 87 is a later addition. 

 

fig. 15
1659. A Fromanteel Londini
“Taylor Fromanteel” Private collection

 

Fig. 16
1659. A Fromanteel Londini
“Taylor Fromanteel” Private collection

 
Fig. 17
1659. A Fromanteel Londini
“Taylor Fromanteel” Private collection


COMPARISSONS

Comparisson Coster N1, N2, N4, N5, N10  Fromanteel Lyme Park, Bass, Taylor.

  The Similarities

    COSTER FROMANTEEL
   1.  pillars square (except N10).
pillars square Lyme Park.
   2.  barrel(s) without fusee.  barrel(s) without fusee.
   3.  case in the shape of a simple box. case in the shape of a simple box (except Lyme Park).
   4. movement attached to the dial plate and turning on hinges at
the left hand side (except N5 which turns on pins).
movement attached to the dial plate and turning on hinges at
the left hand side (except Lyme Park).

 The Differences  Case    

    COSTER FROMANTEEL
   1. rectangular. square (except Lyme Park)
   2. side panels closed (except N10). side panels glazed, the right sight panel slides up (except Lyme Park).
   3. wall clocks. table clocks.
       
  4. Case dimensions Height  cm.
       
    Coster N1  27,2
    Coster N2  26,4
    Coster N4  23,4 
    Coster N5  27,5 
(32,5  bell included)
    Coster N10  26,1
    Fromanteel Lyme Park  40,7
    Fromanteel Bass  19,7
    Fromanteel Taylor  20,7

 The Differences  Dial 

    COSTER FROMANTEEL
  1. dial plate rectangular. Fromanteel: dial plate square (except Lyme Park).
  2. dial plate covered with dark velvet. dial plate not covered with velvet, but instead a matted centre and corner spandrels (except Lyme Park).
  3. chapter ring gilt brass or solid silver. chapter ring silver face soldered to a brass under-ring with 12 solder holes in the brass ring(10.
  4. hands silver or gilt.  hands iron.
  5. signature on a signature shield in the form of a lambrequin. signature engraved on the dial plate (except Lyme Park).
  6. a hole in the dial plate behind the signature shield directly in front of the pendulum. no hole.

  The Differences  Movements

    COSTER FROMANTEEL
  1. pillars square (except N10) pillars ringed round instead of square (except Lyme Park).
  2.  pillars pinned on the back plate. pillars latched to the front plate.
  3.  verge with a silk suspended pendulum with cycloid cheeks. verge pivot directly connected to the pendulum (except Lyme Park). The bridge of the Bass Fromanteel is adapted and now has a silk suspended pendulum.
  4.  crown wheel set in a horizontal position of 90 degrees. crown wheel set in an angle of 70 degrees (except Lyme Park).
  5.  a hole in the back plate to facilitate the escapement wheel. no hole.
  6.  ratchet N1, N2, N4 on the front plate. N5: ratchet visible at the back plate. N10: ratchet hidden behind the back plate on the barrel. ratchets visible on the back plate
  7.  timepieces with one barrel (except N10). two vertically positioned barrels, one for going and one for striking (except Lyme Park).
  8.  30 hour’s duration.     Bass and Taylor: 3 days duration. Lyme Park: 8 day’s duration.
  9.  movement elongated rectangular shape (except N10). movement rectangular with curved shoulders (except Lyme Park) and of a heavier, larger and sturdy construction.
  10. movement not signed. movement Lyme Park signed.
       
  11. Movement dimensions Height - Width  mm.
       
    Coster N1 110 - 59
    Coster N2 109 - 58
    Coster N4 109 - 59
    Coster N5 110 - 59
    Coster N10 109 - 84
    Fromanteel Lyme Park  220 - 110
    Fromanteel Taylor 139 - 107
       


SPECIAL CHARACTERISTICS


There are two movements with special characteristics, different from all other Coster movements.

1. The Lyme Park movement is considered to be the earliest movement made by Fromanteel and most similar to Coster’s. The Lyme Park movement has square pillars like the Coster movements, which are latched to the front plate instead of pinned on the back plate(11. The ratchet is visible on the back plate. The movement is not attached to the hinged dial plate and is much larger than the Coster movements and very sturdy (12. The dimensions of the Lyme Park movement are 220 mm height and 110 mm width(13; the dimensions of the early Coster movements are 109/110 mm height and 59/58 mm width.

Lyme Park
H. 220 mm.
Coster
H. 110 mm.

2. The Taylor Coster clock N5 movement has square pillars pinned on the back plate like all other Coster movements. However, the dial plate is turning on pins instead of hinges and the ratchet is visible on the back plate in the Fromanteel manner in contrast to all other Coster movements. This is the only Coster clock with an alarm and bell on top of the case. The alarm is presumably a slightly later addition.    

Pillars

R.D. Dobson(14 states that the square pillars of the movements from the Coster workshop were produced under the influence of John Fromanteel. After John’s departure in May 1658 not Coster, but the Fromanteels exclusively used square pillars. However, the way the pillars are attached to the movements is different, all Coster movements having the pillars pinned on the back plate, while the pillars in the Fromanteel movements are latched to the front plate.

Moreover, in the late 16th century/early 17th century, square pillars were already used extensively in Germany by master clockmakers in the well-known renaissance table clocks (15. For instance, master clockmaker Johann Sayller used square pillars in several of his clocks.

In the catalogue Innovation & Collaboration(16 , page 56, the pillar depicted in fig. 3.3 is designated as ‘Ahasuerus Fromanteel square pillar’. This type of pillar is commonly known and designated as an ‘Egyptian pillar’; it was widely used in watches of that period.
 


Fig. 18
Renaissance clocks and movements
with ‘square pillars’


CONCLUSION

The only true resemblances between the Coster and Fromanteel clocks are:

The shape of the simple box type case (except the Lyme Park movement).

The dial hinged, turning on the left hand side (except the Lyme Park movement).

No fusee in the movements.

According to the rules of the Clockmakers’ Company, in the apprenticeship and journeyman period the clock had to be signed by the serving master, not by the apprentice. So the Taylor clock (N5), although signed by Coster, may well have been made by John Fromanteel. However, because of the lack of historical evidence, and in view of the aforementioned technical differences in movements and cases, it is not justified to attribute Coster clocks N1, N2, N4, N10 and N5 with certainty to any of the clockmakers in Coster’s workshop (Coster, Fromanteel, Hanet, Reijnaert or Oosterwijck).



ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Photo 1,2,3 : Courtesy of Dr. John C. Taylor, Isle of Man
Photo 4,5 : Courtesy Mario Crijns, Breda
Photo 6,7 : Courtesy Mentink & Roest, Ingen
Photo 8,9 : Courtesy Stichting Boom-Time
Photo 10,11 : Courtesy of The National Trust Images, Swindon
Photo 12,13,14 : Courtesy of Ben Wright, Tetbury
Photo 15,16,17 : Courtesy of Dr. John C. Taylor, Isle of Man

March 2019, Copyright:

(This article is subject to ongoing revisions.)


LINKS

Chr. Huygens' Œuvres Complètes. (pdf)

Chr. Huygens Horologium 1658. (pdf)



   NOTES

   
1

N1 1657 - Rijksmuseum Boerhaave Leiden
N2 1657 - Collection Zuylenburg/Bert Degenaar former Vehmeyer Collection
N4 1658 - Science Museum former Dr. R. Plomp
N5 1658 - Dr. John C. Taylor former P.C. Spaans Collection
N10 1659/1660, - Private Collection former Mario Crijns

2

The Worshipfull Company of Clockmakers, Minutes of 1652, James Nye Chairman A.H.S.

3

Oeuvres Complètes de Christiaan Huygens, Tome II, correspondance 1657-1659,

Martinus Nijhoff 1889 – Tome XVII, l’horloge à pendule 1656-1666, Martinus Nijhoff 1932

4

Ronald A. Lee, The first twelve years of the English Pendulum Clock, London 1969

5

Percy G. Dawson, C.B. Drover & D.W. Parkes, Early English clocks, Aberdeen 1982, page 75    

6

Dr.John C. Taylor, The Coster Fromanteel contract 3rd September 1657 Changes made during drafting, Isle of Man 2018, page 1 footnote

7

Ben Wright, Exceptional Clocks, Tetbury 2018

8

Ronald A. Lee, The first twelve years of the English Pendulum Clock, London 1969

9

Percy G. Dawson, C.B. Drover & D.W. Parkes, Early English Clocks, Aberdeen 1982, page 84

10

Ben Wright, Exceptional Clocks, Tetbury 2018

11

Dr. R. Plomp, Spring-driven Dutch pendulum clocks 1657-1710, Schiedam 1979, page 24

12

Percy G. Dawson, C.B. Drover & D.W. Parkes, Early English Clocks, Aberdeen 1982, page 75

National Trust

13 Amey Carney, House and Collections Manager
14 R.D. Dobson, De slinger als tijdmeter, Bocholt 1999, page 43A
15 Klaus Maurice, Die deutsche Räderuhr, Munich 1976, page 600
16 Richard Garnier & Leo Hollis, Innovation & Collaboration, Isle of Man 2018, page 56
   




   
   
   
   
   
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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