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.
The Clockmakers’ Museum is now open to the public in a new gallery on the 2nd floor of The Science Museum. Entrance is free.
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 of London’s Guildhall Library, 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 since 1874 (also at Guildhall in the City) but in October 2015 it moved to The Science Museum.
The Collection is situated in a new gallery on the second floor of the Science Museum and is free to visit. It contains 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.
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.
Any application for physical examination of an object in The Clockmakers’ Collection should be made to
see also … The Watch & Clock Collection page >>