Monster price achieved for Kilmarnock skeleton clock

A Kilmarnock seller was over the moon when their unique skeleton clock was snapped up for £9,000 at McTear's this April.

A gold watch may be the ‘go to’ retirement gift for long serving employees, but when staff at Victorian shoemakder, Clarks of Kilmarnock, decided to honour their founder in 1880, they decided to take things a step further. 

As a mark of their respect for George Clark, the employees presented him with an impressive ‘skeleton’ clock in the shape of Westminster Abbey.  The hugely complex timepiece, which stands 74.5cm high and is clad in an ornate lacquered brass case, was created by renowned clockmakers Swinden & Son of Birmingham.  



To ensure that anyone admiring the horological masterpiece knew exactly why it was created, the shop staff inscribed the piece: 'Presented to George Clark Esquire by his employees Home Department in recognition of his untiring energy and as a mark of their esteem and regard for him as their Employer.’  Mrs Clark was also presented with a gold Albert.

One hundred and forty years on, and several owners later, the clock was the showpiece lot in the McTear’s auction ‘Changing Times: Clocks & Instruments from the 18th Century to Present Day’.  The time piece was estimated to fetch between £3,000 and £5,000.   

Commenting on the auction, specialist James Bruce, said: “This is a quite magnificent timepiece which showcases the skill and attention to detail of one of the country’s leading clockmakers of the time.  It is a hugely ornate piece and it must have been quite a surprise for Mr Clark when it was unveiled in Kilmarnock in 1880. 


“There was huge interest in the clock which resulted in a bidding war on the day.  In the end a buyer from Somerset won out, with the timepiece selling for an impressive £9,000.  Needless to say the anonymous seller from Kilmarnock was delighted with the result.”

The clock is powered by a three train, triple fusee driven movement with quarter-striking on eight bells and hour-striking on a coil.  It has a repeater mechanism and silvered chapter ring with Roman numerals, lacquered brass case, and a time-compensating mercury bob. 

In addition to the Westminster Abbey clock, the 87 lot auction featured a selection of rare and unusual timepieces including carriage, grandfather, mantel and wall clocks from the Georgian era through the twentieth century.



George Clark took over the long established family shoe making business in the 1870s, with the company later merging with F&G Abbott in 1908 to form Saxone Shoes in Kilmarnock.   

The unusual name derives from a shock football result where Kilmarnock FC beat Rangers 6-1, much to the delight of George Clark.   

Sold prices above include buyer’s premium and VAT thereon.  


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