The Clockmakers’ Company Library was founded in 1813. It consisted at first of the ancient manuscripts of the Company on which most standard reference works about British clockmakers have since been based.
It soon grew to include many printed books, often presented by their authors, or annotated by famous clock and watchmakers. It is now celebrated for its holding of rare clockmakers’ workbooks and related documents (such as Victor Kullberg’s Records and many 18th century holograph manuscripts by John Harrison).
In 1925, by agreement with the Corporation of London, the Clockmakers’ Library was placed in the City’s Guildhall Library (Aldermanbury, London EC2P 2EJ), so that it could be made freely available for consultation by the public. It has remained there ever since.
The Clockmakers’ Collection was begun in 1814 and is therefore the oldest collection specifically of clocks and watches in the world. It has been on permanent public display (also in Guildhall Library, Aldermanbury, London EC2P 2EJ) since 1874. Entry is free – click here for directions.
The Collection is shown in a single room, containing at any one time some 600 English and European watches, 30 clocks and 15 marine timekeepers, together with a number of rare horological portraits. The majority of items in the Collection range from c.1600 to c.1850. The Bridgeman Art Library have images of many of them.
Perhaps the most important group within the Collection is the marine timekeepers,
illustrating the importance of horology in the science of navigation. Examples are a marine timekeeper of 1724 by Henry Sully, a silver deck watch by Thomas Earnshaw (used by Captain George Vancouver in the discovery by Europeans of the Island now bearing his name) and the celebrated 5th marine timekeeper made by John Harrison and completed in 1770.
The Library and Collection are maintained by the Clockmakers’ Museum and Educational Trust (Reg. Charity No. 312876) which
employs a part-time consultant keeper. Through the generosity of the Corporation of London, they are housed and overseen on a daily basis by Guildhall Library staff.
A richly illustrated booklet The Clockmakers of London, an account of the Company and its Collection, has been published by the Company and is available on application to The Clerk of the Company, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
See also !
“The Watch & Clock Collection page”
Any application for physical examination of an object in the Museum should be made to the Keeper
Please note that Guildhall Library staff are not able to answer technical questions on clocks and watches
Guildhall Library is fully accessible to wheelchair users