Long Buckby and Bunting clock and watchmakers including Milton's Bunting watch

11:07PM UTC - Monday, 22 February 2010

Contributed by: Tony Bunting

We talked about Bunting Clocks at Long Buckby and also about Milton's Bunting Watch. Please see the information below from the British Museum concerning a Bunting watch. I will contact the Curator about a photograph. This watch is made by William Bunting. It seems to be the correct one. I had thought the maker was John Bunting (the grandfather clock maker) but his dates are wrong for Milton's lifetime.

The watch is in the Prehistory and Europe Department at the British Museum under Registration number: 1862,0801.1. There is also a reference toWatches Vol II, Wood 1866 pages 269, 270 & 412. The location is HSR/EX/A08.

The watch, which is a silver/gilt cased verge watch with date indicator, was made in Pope's Head Alley, London by William Bunting between 1645 and 1655. It has a circular gilt-brass case with four early Egyptian pillars. There is a hole in the pillar-plate for the potence. The mainspring & set-up consist of a gilt-brass barrel with a snap-in cap. The original tangent-screw set-up has been replaced with a crude ratchet and click system. It has a gilt-brass fusee with gut-line and English stop-work, the spring and screw replaced. The fusee is of the type used with a chain and the three holes in the barrel wall suggest that the gut line attachment is a later modification. The train is a three-wheel going train ,the second and contrate wheel with three crossings. The crown wheel runs between riveted potence and counter-potence. The crown wheel, verge, balance, balance spring and regulator are all later replacements and modifications. The original pierced foliate balance-cock survives. It was formerly pinned to a stud on the potence-plate but has since been raised by the placing of a brass plate beneath it and is now secured by a screw. Pinned to the pillar-plate is a silver ring engraved 1-31 and red waxed for the date, which is shown by a pointer on a rotating gilt-brass ring with engraved decoration. The pointer is now missing. In the centre a pinned-on silver dial with Roman hour numerals I-XII, arrow head half-hour marks and a circle for the quarters Around the plain centre an inscription. The single hand is now missing. The circular silver-gilt case has an integral back and hinged split glazed bezel. Around the band and bezel a repeated flower and dart motif. The outer area of the back is engraved with a wide border of realistic flowers. In the middle of the back is an eight-foil surrounding a central rosette. The silver gilt pendant is now very badly worn. On the back the rotating winding cover is a replacement for an earlier one. Inside the case a fragment taken from the page of a diary/almanac for November with 8th highlighted and with inscriptions John Milton d. 8th November 1674 and Sir Charles Fellows d. 8th Nov. 1861. Other inscriptions as follows: Signature Gulielmus Bunting in Popes head alley Fecit on potence-plate, inscription Iohanni Milton 1631 on dial. The diameter of the watch is 46 millimetres, the height: 61.8 millimetres, and the width: 55.43 millimetres.

The Curator's comments are as follows:

John Milton 1608-1674. While the dates of William Bunting (c.1624 - c.1655) make it possible for the watch to have been owned by Milton, the date 1631 makes this implausible as Bunting was not Free of the Clockmakers' Company until February 1646/7 and therefore could not possibly have made this watch in or before 1631. The unconvincing style of the inscription suggests an early 19th century date for its addition to the dial.

Best Wishes

Tony Bunting

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The Bunting Society
http://www.buntingsociety.org.uk/society/home/article.php?story=20100222230709377