clock, timepiece


  • Handbook text

    In London at the end of the 17th century a fashion for unusual dials came into being. One form which was popular was the ‘sun-and-moon dial’. Here, the silver champlevé dial has a minute circle numbered 5-60 around the outside, and above the centre there is an aperture numbered VI-XII-VI around the outside with half-hour marks around the inside edge. Beneath the aperture is a rotating blued steel disc with a gilded sun effigy, an inlaid silver moon and stars, some of which are gilded. There are also crudely scratched clouds which were probably added later. Below the centre two cartouches are inscribed COLSTON and LONDON against a matted ground. The gold minute hand is not original

    The plain silver inner case has a winding hole in the back and on the inside is the punched maker's mark SB , the mark of Samuel Bowtell, and the number 973. The outer case is made from brass covered with tortoise-shell, with silver rims and a silver inlaid-wire townscape on the back. Tortoise-shell became a popular material for all sorts of items from furniture to watch cases in the last quarter of the 17th century. In reality, the material is marine turtle-shell rather than tortoise. Various types were commonly used but principally the hawksbill turtle. By the end of the century cases such as this one, inlaid with wire pictorial decoration, were made in workshops which specialised in working with tortoise-shell, horn, fish-skin (shagreen) and leather.

    Eric Bullivant Bequest, 1974 (WA 1974.116)

    In: Thompson, David, Watches in the Ashmolean Museum, Ashmolean Handbooks (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2007)

Further reading

Thompson, David, Watches in the Ashmolean Museum, Ashmolean Handbooks (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2007), no. 20

Reference URL

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