Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Turquoise-set Gold Cased Verge Watch with Human Hair and Memento Mori Imagery: The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

At the Oxford Ashmolean Museum last weekend, I stumbled upon the very curious woven- and monogrammed (!!!) human-hair and death's head-bedecked watch chain pictured above; the website describes it thusly:
Edward East (Southill, Bedfordshire 1602 - 1697)
Turquoise-set gold cased verge watch with chatelaine...

Case: Gold case with hinged lid. Studded with turquoises, graduated and in concentric circles. Gold and turquoise pendant. To the watch is attached an 18th-century gold chatelaine with five plaques held between two gold chains with an extra plaque suspended from a short gold chain at the top, the plaques as follows: i. contains a lock of woven human hair in the front and is inscribed M*S Mariae Fowke quae obijt 29 Aug. 1660 aestat 51 on the back ii. with a skull and cross-bones over a lock of human hair in the front and with the engraved monogram RC on the back iii. with a lock of woven human hair in the front and the engraved inscription Non pretty sed Amoris on the back iv. with woven hair in the front and the engraved inscription Ma: Cooke borne 22th Decemb 76 dyed 16 Aug 77 v. with the monogram SF in gold wire over human hair in the front and with the date 3 Dec: 86 engraved on the back vi. on a short chain, with a lock of human hair in the front and the engraved inscription M*C with a dove and olive branch on the back.

The chatelaine also suspends a bronze winding key. Dial: The front plate is poorly engraved with bead decoration to surround the dial. A very thin brass dial now rivetted to the movement. The chapter-ring with hours I-XII around a quarters circle and with an engraved vase of realistic flowers on the front. This dial is unlikely to be original. Movement: Circular gilt-brass plates with four pierced Egyptian pillars. Tangent-screw set-up mounted on the back plate. The barrel, fusee and wheel train are all missing. Verge escapement, the crown wheel, verge and balance all survive. Pierced foliate balance cock screwed to the back plate. Movement signed: Eduardus East Londini Edward East, 1602-1697, apprenticed in 1618 to Richard Rogers in the Goldsmiths' Company. Clockmakers' Company 1632, Assistant, Warden 1638, Master 1645 and 1653. In 1660 appointed Clockmaker to Charles II. Workshops in Pall Mall, later in Fleet Street and then at the Sun outside Temple Bar. In 1688 he was living at Hampton, Middlesex.
Bequeathed by Sir Samuel Hellier, 1784.
The image is my own; you can find out more here. Click on image to see larger, more detailed version.

1 comment:

Foxart said...

A masterpiece !!!