Fine Tompion-quality verge watch by this most interesting maker, circa 1700.
Silver pair case, the unmarked but certainly original outer engraved with a fine Coat of Arms under which is the motto: NEC TIMIDE, NEC TEMERE, NEC TURPITER (not timid, not rash, not shameful), the inner 'box' stamped with a cross, numbered as the movement and with the casemaker's mark of a conjoined VB (Urian Berrington, London). Beautifully engraved fullplate fusee movement with tulip pillars, the wide footed cock with a cherub's face at the neck. Verge (recoil) escapement. Steel balance, spiral balance-spring. Lovely quality two-piece silver dial, the centre nicely chased and signed, complete with its original tulip and poker blued-steel hands fitted to a centre arbor that has never been filed short. 55.5 mm diameter.
Richard Street, thought to have been working in Fleet Street, and almost certainly closely associated with the Tompion workshop. See the small note about Street by Jeremy Evans in his book ...300 years. In this, Street is described thus: "an outstanding maker..there is clear evidence that he was responsible for some of Tompion's repeating watch movements"
This watch bears the earliest known surviving numbered watch of less than twenty recorded by me, some having no number at all. Of those, few survive in complete condition but most, like his few known clocks, are, or would once have been, exceptional items. One important clock can be seen at the National Maritime Museum Greenwich (it is, or used to be, in the Octagon room) and perhaps the finest surviving watch is No 214. Part of the Percy Webster collection, it was sold at Sothebys in 1954, and again by them in 1971. A note in this later catalogue remarks that Street is "reputed to have made instruments for Sir Isaac Newton." A similar single-handed watch, No 408, is shown in Clutton and Daniels Watches.
NB: The Coat of Arms, featuring an "eagle displayed" three times, is probably that of the Barne family, of which one of the sons of John Barne (c.1640-92), scrivener, are possible owners. Miles Barne (1679-1743), the fourth son, was a successful cloth merchant who invested in and later became a Director of the East India Company.
In unusually fine and original condition, the lightly engraved outer showing only minor signs of wear, the outer with contemporary embroidered silk token. Serviced for its previous owner and working well, but can be freshly serviced at no additional cost if wanted. I have also not polished the case, but can brighten it if required.
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