Howell & James, London: A Small Quarter Chiming Bracket Clock
A superb quality and small ebonised bracket clock, standing only sixteen-inches high to the top of the finial, with a triple- fusee, eight-day duration movement chiming the quarters on eight bells and the hours on a gong.
The five-inch arched dial has a finely matted centre, a raised chapter ring engraved with black Roman numerals, raised gilt brass spandrels engraved in the style of Thomas Cole, who supplied Howell & James with clocks, and a silvered plaque signed Howell and James, London. To the Queen. Within the arch are two subsidiary dials for ‘strike/silent’ & ‘Chime on Eight Bells/Westminster’.
The small ebonised bell-top case has canted corners, a stepped base, a bell-top surmounted by a pineapple finial, with ormolu mounts and side frets of excellent quality.
Height: 16 inches (40.5 cms)
Howell and James were founded in 1819 as silk mercers & retail jewellers, the original partners being John Howell and Isaac James. By 1838 the firm had become Howell, James & Co. with the partners now John Howell, William Sedgwick, Thomas Stroud and Henry Gillett although by 1855 the company was in the sole ownership of Gillett and in 1884 became a limited company known as Howell & James Ltd.
The opening day of their annual ‘exhibition’ became one of the outings of the period attracting the cream of London society. They exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851 in Hyde Park, as well as the International Exhibition of 1862, the Paris Exhibition of 1867 and the London exhibition of 1872.
The company were champions of the South Kensington School and included many items within their stock that came from this establishment, and included jewellery from designers such as C.L. Eastlake, M.D. Wyatt, F. Leighton, and L.F. Day at these various exhibitions. From 1876 they held popular exhibitions at their Regent Street premises showcasing the painted pottery produced by amateurs. One of their designers, the well- known L.F. Day had made a clock for the 1851 Great Exhibition and went on to design the companies stand at the later 1878 Paris show. His Aesthetic clocks were a mainstay of Howell and James’s production, who had other prominent designers from the Arts & Crafts movement working alongside them including Thomas Harris and J. Llewellyn who left in 1889, taking many of the selling rights to Liberty & Co situated close-by in Regent Street. Howell & James sold clocks of the highest quality, many supplied to them by the well-known maker Thomas Cole whose decorative pieces are quite distinctive.