EARLY LONGCASE CLOCK Joseph Norris Amsterdam Ca. 1685 Holland

Longcase clocks


Signed: Joseph Norris Amsterdam
Circa 1685

The weight-driven brass movement has bolt-and-shutter maintaining power and consists of going and striking trains. The going train has an anchor escapement with seconds pendulum. The striking train indicates the hours fully and the half hours with one stroke on a bell. The lead weights are brass clad.

The velvet covered square dial has a silvered brass chapter ring with Roman hour numerals, half-hour markers, quarter-hour, Arabic five-minute and minute divisions. The corners are embellished by richly pierced cast brass spandrels with cherub-heads in the middle. The time is indicated by a fine pair of period engraved gilt brass hand. There is a date aperture above the VI and a silvered brass seconds ring below the XII, with Arabic numerals for every five seconds with a gilt brass seconds hand. The top is surmounted with an arch which bears the engraved maker’s signature: Joseph Norris Amsterdam. The winding holes are situated at the level of the III and the IX.

The superbly proportioned walnut-veneered oak case has a rising hood. Both sides have sound apertures. The door is flanked by barley twist pillars, with carved wooden capitals and bases. The hood is embellished by carved wooden panels with an exceptionally beautiful cresting, featuring a shield of arms. The lenticle also has a carved surround. The veneers of the base have geometrical shapes, which look like a flower. The whole rests on four bun feet.

Duration: 1 week.

Height: 198 cm.
Width: 43.5 cm.
Depth: 23 cm.

Literature: H.M. Vehmeyer, Antieke uurwerken, een familieverzameling, p. 611.

The maker
Joseph Norris, born in Abingdon near Oxford in 1650, was the twelve years younger brother of Edward Norris, born in 1637, who died in in 1726. When he was twelve years old Joseph became his brother´s apprentice for a period of eight years. He survived ‘The Plague’ and ‘The Great Fire of London’, respectively in 1665 and 1666. Because of the fire the brothers were forced to move from The Crossed Keys in Lothbury to Dove Court in London. After the peace treaty between England and the Dutch Republic in 1674, Joseph Norris went to Holland in 1675 and settled in Amsterdam. His former master Ahasuerus (I) Fromanteel had been there since as early as 1667 and was to return to England in 1676. Whether or not the end of the war was of influence on the point in time when Joseph Norris left for Holland is not known. Undoubtedly there was a relationship between Fromanteel and Joseph Norris, dating back to the days Norris worked for him. During his Dutch period Fromanteel is thought not to have made longcase clocks with anchor escapement and a seconds pendulum, but to have imported finished movements from Londen. On this basis is Joseph Norris regarded to have been the first who produced longcase clocks with anchor escapement and a ‘Royal Pendulum’ in the Netherlands, either in or shortly after 1675. Joseph Norris lived and worked neat the Exchange on the Dam in Amsterdam. In 1677 he was married to Alicia Arnold from Tonstelle (England) in the English Reformed Church. Soon he became one of the most prominent clockmakers in Amsterdam. In 1692 he returned to Abingdon and may also have made clocks in his brother´s workshop in Dove Court London. He fulfilled numerous civic functions until his death in 1726, both in public and ecclesiastical life in Abingdon. Movements, signed “Joseph Norris London” or “Joseph Norris Abingdon”, are to be dated from the period 1670-1675 (before Amsterdam) or 1692-1696 (after Amsterdam). In the latter year his membership of the Clockmakers’ Company came to an end. Therefore movements, signed “Joseph Norris Amsterdam”, are to be dated between 1675 and 1692.
(Sources: Bailey, Loomes, Morpurgo, Plomp, Zeeman)




Duration: 1 week.
Height: 198 cm.
Width: 43,5 cm.
Depth: 23 cm.

Literature: H.M. Vehmeyer, Antieke uurwerken, een familieverzameling, p. 611.


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