Smith & Singer
17

AN IMPORTANT AUSTRALIAN CEDAR LONGCASE CLOCK BY JAMES OATLEY, SYDNEY, CIRCA 1822

AN IMPORTANT AUSTRALIAN CEDAR LONGCASE CLOCK BY JAMES OATLEY, SYDNEY, CIRCA 1822

Estimate $400,000 – $600,000

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the hood with a swan neck pediment and central spike, line inlay above a circular glass panel with brass edge, flanked by a pair of spiral twisted columns, with vents to either side above a long door with a central shell motif and pine stringing, flanked by quarter spiral twisted columns above a square base with radiating veneers and line inlay, raised on ball feet, the circular silvered dial with Roman numerals, subsidiary seconds and calendar dials, inscribed 'OATLEY SYDNEY / N.16 / 1822', with an 8 day anchor escapement striking on a bell; 58CM WIDE, 25CM DEEP, 262CM HIGH;

NOTE It is interesting to note that the brass from the front plate and back plate of the movement are different in composition indicating a shortage of brass in the colony. The original steel weights and typically large pendulum are also with the clock. This is one of only five tall clocks produced by Oatley and is often referred to as the Douglass Oatley as it is believed that it was made for Dr Douglass (see 'Quilled on the Cann', Australiana Magazine, vol 23, Nov 4, 2001, by John Hawkins).

James Oatley was responsible for the movement of approximately forty clocks but the fine cedar cases are apparently by others who did not sign their work. It is possible that Alexander Hart, who arrived on the Speke on 18th May 1821, was the cabinetmaker behind the case as it is believed that he was responsible for the case of no. 15, The Glenfield Throsby longcase. Hart was assigned to Dr Douglass at this time and there are numerous similarities in design between the two clocks including the use of a shell motif on the door, the 'quilled on the cann' columns, the use of stringing andlarge ball feet, all tie in with Hart and the Glaswegien clock cases of the time.

James Oatley (1770 – 1839) was a native of Stafford in England, he was sentenced to death at the age of 44 for stealing sundry bed linen and other items on 7th March 1814. His sentence was commuted to transportation for life to New South Wales. He arrived in Sydney on 27th January 1815 on the 'Marquis of Wellington' and his wife Mary came free on the 'Northampton' on 18th June. Oatley set up business as a watch and clockmaker in George Street opposite the site of the present Town Hall and was appointed keeper of the town clock by Governor Macquarie who later commissioned him to make a turret clock for the pediment of the Hyde Park Barracks which was completed in 1819. He received a conditional pardon in 1821. On his death in 1839 his son Frederick Oatley briefly continued the business;

PROVENANCE Lawsons Auctions, W.F. Bradshaw

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