Sunday, 10 January 2016

William Carpenter


I am starting to research the eighteenth century English maker, William Carpenter.  His work features some wonderful exercises in complication, including ornate musical clocks and four dial watches; as usual I will be focussing on the watches. 

In ‘SOME MID-EIGHTEENTH CENTURY CRAFTSMEN, GRAY & VULLIAMY OUTWORKERS AND SUPPLIERS c.1760’, by Roger Smith, Antiquarian Horology, Vol 29, no 3, the list includes: 

Carpinter (sic), Mr.  Watch maker Little Kings Street, St Ann's, at Mr Planches* a jeweller - Probably an early reference to the well-known clock and watch maker, William Carpenter (or Charpentier (c. 1727-1803), who moved to Frith St, Soho, as a householder from 1766 (Rates).  * Peter Anthony Planche, lived in King St Soho from 1758-64 (Rates). 

I’m having some difficulty with Carpenter’s biographical details.  Although lifespan dates are given above, Baillie and other sources suggest that he was working until at least 1817.
 
If anyone has any information about Carpenter I’d very grateful if you’d advise it to me. 

Meanwhile, to indicate why Carpenter is well worth close study, here is an example of his output:
 
Courtesy of Auktionen Dr Crott
 
This timepiece, #4053, circa 1795, would be classified as a ‘coach watch’, being 82mm in diameter.  Like much of his production, it was made for the Chinese market – one eager for complication and ornate decoration.  In effect this watch has five dials, measuring: Hours, minutes, seconds, jump ¼ seconds and moon age.  For a better understanding of the jump seconds function, the Horological Journal featured an excellent article in the October 2015 issue, ‘Independent-Train Watches and Jump Quarter-Seconds’, by Philip W. Kuchel.

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