'Immensely rare' £3m clock made by Norwich maker at risk of leaving UK

Auctioneers in Norfolk are calling for this extremely rare £3m clock to be saved for the nation if a buyer can't be found

Auctioneers in Norfolk are calling for this extremely rare £3m clock to be saved for the nation if a buyer can't be found - Credit: Contributed

A super-rare £3 million clock constructed by a Norwich clockmaker is now at risk of leaving the country. 

The early Charles II, ebony architectural longcase clock dates back to 1660 and was designed and made by Ahasuerus Fromanteel who was born and baptized in the city.

But the clock, which was sold to its present unknown owner in 1998, will depart these shores unless a UK buyer can cough up for it.

The clock which was designed and made by Ahasuerus Fromanteel

The clock which was designed and made by Ahasuerus Fromanteel - Credit: Contributed

Simon Michlmayr, owner of Michlmayr Clock and Watchmakers in Norwich, described the 17th century clock as "immensely rare". 

Mr Michlmayr, who is a fellow of the British Horological Institute, said: "There are very few clocks of that value of what we call domestic clocks. We do not have any other examples which aren't in museums.

"It's such a important clock which should stay here and potentially be nationally owned at somewhere like Greenwich."

Despite restorations, the majority of the clock’s case is original and the government has described it as an "excellent early example of the architectural form of longcase clock".

Michlmayr Clock and Watchmakers which was set up by Simon Michlmayr.
PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Simon Michlmayr, who set up Michlmayr Clock and Watchmakers in Norwich - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

Mr Fromanteel was one of the first to create pendulum clocks in England and gained the notice and patronage of Oliver Cromwell.

Most Read

"Clock-keeping was immensely important and could be put on par with the scientists working on coronavirus at the moment," Mr Michlamyr added.

The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest agreed it is "an extremely interesting object" which could be used for new research on the golden age of English clockmaking.

David Broom, an auction expert for Norfolk-based Keys, said: "Fromanteel is historically important clockmaker as his name is associated with the introduction of longcase pendulum clocks into Britain in the early 17th century.

David Broom, ceramics expert at Keys Auctioneers and Valuers. Picture: Keys Auctioneers and Valuers

David Broom, an expert for Keys Auctioneers and Valuers - Credit: Archant

"Examples made by his eldest son John Fromanteel occasionally appear at auction and always command high prices.

"But examples by his father are even rarer and given the history, provenance and condition of this example, it would be preferable to save it for the nation if a suitable buyer can be found." 

The 17th century clock which is valued at just over £3m 

The 17th century clock which is valued at just over £3m - Credit: Contributed

The decision on the export licence application for the clock will be deferred until March 13 2022 to consider any purchase offers.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter