Clockmakers throughout history have long been admired craftsmen and artisans. The same can be said for those who create the intricate timepieces in miniature. Here are just some of the collection’s reproductions of historic clocks from around the world.
The 1/12-scale lighthouse clock pictured above is a prime example of Ernie’s extraordinary work. In full-size, lighthouses clocks are considered rare and unique, so this miniature is quite exceptional. According to collectors, this distinctive style of clock was developed by Simon Willard in the early 1820s and was one of the first of its kind to include an alarm mechanism. Many were prominently displayed and used as centerpieces in rooms, as I’ve done here in the 1995 Paul Moore cabinet house. Another wonderful clock in the collection–the working low grandmother clock at your right–resides in Harry Smith’s Spite House, a historically accurate room depicting the 1806 Thomas McCobb House in Rockport, Maine, which can be seen in the current issue of Dollshouse & Miniature Scene magazine, as well as here. Ernie’s art pieces can be found demanding top dollar in discerning shops and auction houses across the globe.
Jean Claude Martin
I have several examples by Jean-Claude Martin, who founded Les Miniatures de l’Once d’Art in 1989. One notable timepiece was fashioned after an original Louis XV bronze elephant clock attributed to famous bronze maker Philippe Caffieri during the mid-1700s. Measuring 66 mm high on a base of 46 mm, this clock takes center stage in the Palm Room of Spencer House, the 1/12-scale reproduction of Princess Diana’s ancestral home by Mulvany & Rogers. Another formidable JC Martin piece (left) is a brass gilded and painted replica of a 1715 clock seen in very early photographs of Russia’s famous Amber Room in Catherine Palace. Fully functional, it stands 76 mm high and 50 mm wide. Aurélie Masselin worked closely with JC before succeeding him in 2012. She continues the company’s legacy of creating historically important pieces in gold and silver using the lost wax method.
This Boulle mantle clock was created by Robert Dawson of The Modelroom some 20 years ago to reside in Catherine Palace, his 1/12-scale re-creation inspired by the 18th-century home of the Russian tsars. Crafted after the original clock from the Palace of Fontainebleau in France, it is cast in bronze with individual figures sculpted and gold plated. The timepiece is driven by a quartz mechanism and displayed in The Great Hall of Catherine Palace, which was donated to the KSB Miniatures Collection in 2015.
A chance inquiry from someone asking if he knew anyone who could make a working clock for a dolls’ house was what started Keith’s career making miniatures in 1993. Now, twenty-five years later he’s not only known for his exceptional fine-scale reproductions of timepieces from his business Small Time, but also for the restoration of valuable full-size clocks, scientific instruments, 16th- to 19th-century antiques, and early 20th-century objets d’art. Now living in France, the miniaturist created this French Boulle mantel clock in 2015, based on the circa 1850 original named after André-Charles Boulle. The working clock stands 34 mm tall, is made of wood and brass, and styled with acrylic paint and lacquer. It is featured in the foyer of the Main Staircase of Catherine Palace.
Based on the mid-17th-century original, this 2008 reproduction by “almost retired” miniaturist Jim Watt is one of the more challenging pieces he has made due to the complexity of the etched frets. Made of brass, with the bell created from iron, this piece stands just 2.4 cm high; the base is 1.5 cm square. The clock is powered by quartz watch movement. While Jim has made several clocks in his 29 years as a miniaturist, he now focuses on creating unusual items, such as an antique appliances and instruments.
Grandfathers of Great Clock Making
These master miniaturists incorporated many of the same techniques and materials used by great horologists of the past to create these historically accurate long case clocks in 1/12 scale. Left to right: Bill Robertson, Malcolm Hall, Scott Dillingham, Dennis Jenvy, John Hodgson.
Beautiful and functional, these fine-scale clocks by some of the most notable miniaturists in the world are timeless reflections of the past. I cannot begin to count how many clocks are displayed in the collection, but as I decorate houses for our newest exhibition Scaled to Perfection: A Gallery of New Miniatures, which debuts in October, you can be certain that many timepieces will be included, as they represent an often overlooked art form and intricate look into history.