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Newly discovered Samuel Knibb clock that survived Great Fire of London shows its face at Bonhams
One of only five clocks known by Samuel Knibb is estimated to sell for £150,000 to £200,000. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- A previously unrecorded architectural table clock made circa 1665 by the famed horologist Samuel Knibb, just before the Great Fire of London (1666), has been discovered by the Clock Department at Bonhams.

One of only five such gems of the clock trade known, the 350-year old timepiece is estimated to sell for £150,000 to £200,000 at the upcoming Fine Clocks sale on 9th July at Bonhams, New Bond Street.

James Stratton, Director of the Bonhams Clocks Department, comments: “When an email arrived entitled ‘Samuel Knibb’ I was immediately intrigued. Samuel Knibb’s work is incredibly rare – I only knew of four clocks by him; three in private collections and one in the Clockmakers Company museum in the Guildhall, London. Within minutes of opening up the images, it was obvious that this was an absolutely genuine example from his workshop. It is so exciting to offer this previously unrecorded clock to the market this summer after 350 years in hiding. It will offer collectors and curators the world over the chance to learn more about one of the great ‘unsung’ horological heroes of the early age.”

What makes this clock so valuable is the fact that the young Samuel Knibb worked with the great clock maker, Fromanteel, the man who brought the pendulum clock to Britain in 1658. Only around five clocks signed by Samuel Knibb are known and all are of exceptional quality.

Samuel Knibb (1625–c.1670), the son of John Knibb, yeoman of Claydon, was established as a clockmaker by 1655. He began work in Westminster in 1662 and was admitted to the Clockmakers’ Company in 1663. Samuel Knibb was working in London during the 1660s, right through the Great Plague and the Great Fire.

This period is particularly interesting in the world of clocks with the recent introduction of the pendulum to the U.K by Fromanteel. Before the pendulum clock, sundials and mechanical clocks kept time accurate only to the nearest 15 minutes. Sundials could be up to 15 minutes fast or slow, depending on the height of the sun in the sky, while mechanical clocks relied on springs or coils which deteriorated. The pendulum clock enormously increased accuracy of timekeeping to within 15 seconds.

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