Tompion sale that goes like clockwork! Northill man was known as the father of clockmakers

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Clockmaking brilliance from a Northill man has sold for hundreds of thousands of pounds at auction.

A Thomas Tompion bracket clock, circa 1690, soared to £200,000 when it went under the hammer at Hansons Actioneers’ Fine Art Auctioni n Staffordshire last week. The ‘masterpiece’ made by Tompion, who was born in 1639, was snapped up by an anonymous buyer.

Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons, said: “It’s a truly magnificent and historically important object which thoroughly deserves to achieve this sale figure.

“It is a particularly fine example of this Bedfordshire man’s work – work which has stood the test of time. His bracket clocks are regarded as masterpieces.

“Tompion was an inventor as well as a maker of clocks of the finest quality. Fastidious when it came to detail, design and the use of quality materials, he set unrelenting high standards. He developed an unrivalled reputation worldwide and his work is still admired to this day. I call him Father Time.”

Tompion, the son of a Bedfordshire blacksmith, lived from 1639 to 1713. He opened a business near Fleet Street, London, in 1671 and was closely associated with mathematician and scientist Robert Hooke. This relationship was key to Tompion’s success as it opened doors to royal patronage and the latest technology.

When the Royal Observatory was established in 1676, King Charles II selected Tompion to create two identical clocks.

As England’s most prominent watchmaker, his workshop produced about 5,500 watches and 650 clocks which are renowned for their ingenious design and robust construction. He is buried at Westminster Abbey.