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John Free (Veldin in Essex died 1726)
Silver pair-cased verge watch
Dial: The centre is inscribed ‘FREE’ ‘OXON’
Inner case: Inside the bezel is the scratched number 1732
Movement: INO FREE, OXON, c. 1730
outer case; silver inner case; silver; inner back gilded, glass dial; gilt-brass, silver champlevé movement; gilt-brass; pierced and engraved, brass, steel, silver
inner case 43.9 mm diameter outer case 50.7 mm diameter overall 28.6 mm thickness movement 35 mm diameter pillar 8.4 mm height
Cases: Plain silver pair cases, the inner with hinged glazed bezel and with a winding hole in the back. The inside of the back is gilded. Inside the bezel is the scratched number 1732. The heavy silver pendant, retained by a large riveted and soldered plate on the inside of the case, is not original. Plain silver outer case without marks. Dial: Gilt-brass dial plate with a pinned-on silver champlevé dial, the outer minute track calibrated 0-60 and numbered at 5-minute intervals. Roman hours I-XII with lozenge half-hour marks around an inner circle for quarter-hours. The dial centre is inscribed ‘FREE’ ‘OXON’. Gilt beetle and poker style hands. Movement: Circular gilt-brass plates with four square baluster pillars. Mainspring barrel with tangent-screw set-up between the plates. Fusee with chain and standard stop-work. Four wheel going train of gilt-brass wheels, the centre wheel solid, the third wheel with three crossings and the contrate wheel with four crossings. Verge escapement, the crown wheel runs between riveted potence and counter-potence. Brass three-arm balance with spiral steel balance spring and ‘Tompion’ geared regulator, the silver index disc numbered 1-6. Pierced and engraved balance4 cock with a mask at the centre and wheat-ear decoration around the outside of the table. Movement signed: INO FREE OXON Notes: John Free was in about 1682. He came from Veldin in Essex and was apprenticed to John Knibb in Oxford in 1696 for nine years. He became a Freeman of Oxford in 1709. He died in 1726. Ref: C.F.C. Beeson, Clockmaking in Oxfordshire 1400-1850, AHS, 1962. p.99.
Presented by Evans Roberts through the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1917.