Finally, for all those individuals and Lodges with old clocks and watches, do you have some advice or tips?
Mechanical clocks are often made by craftsmen as individual pieces, and as a piece of engineering they thrive on being kept operative. Try to keep them working and maintained. Dried oil and rust are the biggest enemies.
James Neild Pocket Watches
A particularly fine watch in the collection is the late 18th century pair case pocket watch by James Neild. Ambrose Heal records Neild in his book The London Goldsmiths 1200-1800 'as a jeweller, goldsmith and sword cutler at No.4 St. James's Street from 1770-1794'.
Heal adds: "James Neild, the prison reformer, made a fortune as a jeweller in St. James's Street. He was the father of the eccentric character, James Camden Neild, who left his fortune, valued at £500,000, to Queen Victoria. According to Dr. Abraham's published life of Lettsom, the Quaker physician, this sum built Balmoral."
Neild was also a leading Freemason and member of Somerset House Lodge. Masonic jewels or medals by him are also in the Library and Museum collection.
This particular watch has an emblematic monochrome dial depicting Masonic symbols. The verge movement has tapered turn pillars and a foliate pierced cock with classical urn motif. Sadly, the repeating strike-on-bell mechanism has been later soldered into a fixed position.
The movement is housed within a silver and gilt-metal foliate scroll pierced case, with grotesque mask and flowerhead motifs, none of which is of Masonic significance. However, the back of the case, signed by Neild, bears an exquisite paste-set Grand Steward's jewel. Neild was a member of the Grand Stewards' Lodge in 1773.
This particular pattern of jewel was reputedly designed by the artist William Hogarth. The watch also contains a watchpaper, generally signifying repair, for Matthew Murch of Honiton.
Matthew Murch worked from 1823 to 1856, his diverse career included working as a jeweller, silversmith, stamp distributor and agent for Sun Life and Fire Office. Archives in the Library and Museum reveal that a Mason called Murch, although no forename is known, was a member of the Lodge of True Love and Unity in Brixham, Devon in 1815.
Web site created by Mark Griffin