Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Alexander Hare

Photograph courtesy of Fellows
 
I was outbid recently on this Alexander Hare watch, #218.  Circa 1770, it has the classic later eighteenth century look and is in a shell case.  It seemed a good opportunity to acquire a watch by this superior maker at a reasonable price, since the dial was described as being in poor condition.  It made £520. 

The Britten's entry for Hare is:
 
1770-1821; CChon. f. 1781; 17 Greville st, Hatton Gdn (Bri); 17 Greville st 1791-1821 9dir); watch maker; finely enamelled watch 1782 (Bri); verge metal watch (Guildh. mus.) (Bri)
 
The watch with the Guildhall Museum reference is #439, described: c1790; Gilt-metal pair case. White enamel dial.  Beetle hands. Endstone. Worm set-up. Diams 49 and 42mm.
 
There is another very nice Hare in the Archive of David Penney's Antique Watch Store - http://www.antiquewatchstore.com/archive/1155-alexr-hare-london-no-186.html.  Movement #186, this watch is dated 1769.
 
The style of this Hare watchpaper is notably 'modern' with its grid format, whereas watchmakers generally in this period favoured ornate, figurative designs for their Papers and Trade Cards.
 

 © Trustees of the British Museum

Confirmation that Hare was held in very high regard in his lifetime is seen in an article by Jonathan Betts in Antiquarian Horology, Vol. 30, Issue 1, March 2007.  The article is about John Hyacinth De Magellan, a Portuguese technology entrepreneur.  Hare, alongside Benjamin Vulliamy and Alexander Cumming, was commissioned by De Magellan to produce innovative/high quality watches.  The article includes details of one of Hare's products for De Magellan, #561, circa 1783 - cylinder escapement and unusual main dial, primarily for Minutes, with two subsidiary dials for, 1) Seconds and, 2) Hours.

References to Hare are not easy to find.  Of an unexpected kind is this advertisement copy: "Mr. de Verdion, at Mr. Hare's, no. 17. Greville Street, Hatton Garden, teaches German, French, and English, In the most Expeditious Manner, And Upon the most Reasonable Terms. He also Translates into either of these Languages".

That Alexander Hare and his business remained prosperous towards the end of his life is perhaps evidenced by his having the means to bring a legal action in December 1821 against a neighbour whose building extension work was robbing the rear of Hare's premises of light and air; (there's nothing new under the sun).  (Reported in The Times, 6th December 1821).

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