George III Mahogany Bracket Clock by Alexr. Cumming of London


Circa 1790 – A particularly fine and rare George III Period Mahogany Cased Bracket Clock signed on the enamelled dial “Alexr. Cumming London No. 411”, the hours are shown in Roman numerals with minute divisions, the twin fusee deadbeat escapement movement striking the hours on one bell with a pull-repeat cord to the right hand side, the profusely chased and engraved back plate also signed Alexr. Cumming London, the gilt brass side panels and front spandrels all in the Rococo manner, the domed top with a carrying handle and all raised on ogee shaped brass bracket feet.

H:20.5”,52cms, W:12”, 30cms, D:8.5”, 21.5 cms.

Alexr. Cumming made many remarkable clocks but is probably best remembered for his barograph clock commissioned by King George III which remains in the Royal Collection and for which he was paid an annual retainer for its maintenance. Other barometrical clocks by him are at the Science Museum and on the Isle of Bute. Cumming was also a mathematician and mechanic. He wrote books about watch and clockwork, about the effect on roads of carriage wheels with rims of various shapes, and on the influence of gravity.

He was also a skilled engineer and was the first to patent a design of the flush toilet. This S-shaped plumbing design survives in today’s plumbing modified as a U- or J-shaped pipe trap located below or within a plumbing fixture. The S-shaped trap (or bend) was invented by him in 1775 to prevent sewer gases from entering buildings.

In the 1750s he was employed by Archibald Campbell, 3rd Duke of Argyll at Inverary as an organ builder as well as a clockmaker. After his move to England, he continued to work in both fields. By 1763 he had premises in Bond Street, London, and “had acquired a sufficient reputation to be appointed a member of the commission set up in that year to adjudicate on John Harrison’s ‘timekeeper for discovering the longitude at sea’”.

Lit:Watchmakers & Clockmakers of the World by G H Baillie, page 72,

Britten’s Old Clocks and Watches and their makers, page 361′

English Domestic Clocks, Cescinsky & Webster, page 300, & fig 324

Old English Clocks, The Wetherfield Collection by E J Britten, fig 121

Note: As well as the normal hour and minute hand, this movement has a sweep seconds hand.

Delivery in the UK mainland is included in the marked price.

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