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Works of Art and Clocks

Engineering and Scientific

The Works of Art and Clocks department handles a wide selection of engineering and scientific instruments from telescopes, microscopes, table, floor and pocket globes to musical boxes, surgical equipment, drawing instruments and corkscrews.

A Pair of Regency 12 Inch Terrestrial and Celestial Table Globes by Dudley Adams
        (1762-1830) offered in our April 2013 Fine Sale realised £22,000 (FS18/756).

A Pair of Regency 12 Inch Terrestrial and Celestial Table Globes by Dudley Adams (1762-1830) offered in our April 2013 Fine Sale realised £22,000 (FS18/756).

From the beginning of man's existence, he has been exploring his place in the Universe - not only his place amongst the stars, but also his actual position on Earth - using scientific and engineering instruments. For instance, it was the use of a telescope with mathematics that led to the discovery that the planets circle the sun.

The department encounters many early engineering and scientific instruments used by man on his voyage of discovery.

Telescopes enlarge distant objects and are often used in both celestial and terrestrial observations. We regularly sell telescopes at auction, with Dolland being amongst the best known makers. We also occasionally sell Orreries, which are mechanical models of the solar system, showing the revolutions of the planets and moons in relative size and distance to each other.

At the other end of the scale, magnifying glasses and microscopes enlarge objects too small to be examined by the naked eye. From simple microscopes by Culpepper to the highly elaborate and sophisticated Victorian and Edwardian microscopes by Beck and others, these optical instruments are collectable in their own right.

Surveyor's theodolites and levels helped forge the Industrial Revolution with the building of railways and canals. Compasses and sextants have helped man navigate his world further.

Included in this fine art category are musical boxes, which are driven by clockwork and made to play up to twelve tunes. The cylinders have pins inserted into them, which strike a tooth on a steel comb that produces a note. Muscical boxes are often produced in table top form; sometimes with several cylinders, thus being able to play more tunes. In many respects, musical boxes were the CD player of their day, often with a repeat lever, but no shuffle lever!


Martin McIlroyMartin McIlroy
Department Head

Leigh ExtenceLeigh Extence
Clock Consultant