Presented is a 19th Century boxed
chronometer made by Thomas Bassnett, 5 Bath Street, Liverpool, England. This is likely the same type and style clock
that Thomas Bassnett fitted to the Harland & Wolff steamer, ATLANTIC in 1870, three years before she wrecked on
the rocky coast of Nova Scotia. For more on the SS Atlantic see below under family history.
The works are beautifully made as can be seen in the pictures below.
The fusee or chain drive is an expensive feature that was used to provide constant torque from the main spring to
the minute pinion gear by using a series of increasing radius drums around which the chain winds and unwinds.
The clock is housed in a traditional three section varnished wood
military style case with full gimbal mounts. The case has a bone plaque on its front with the number 1845 which is the same
number that appears on the face of the clock. The movement’s number is 845.
The clock has a two day, 56 hour fusee movement that wound at 24 hours or 32 hours remaining. The movement is keeping time,
but running slightly fast compared with a quartz comparison watch which is excellent. Overall, everything is in exceptionally
fine condition, buts shows some marks of age. The gimbals and interior brasswork have much of their varnish remaining.
The exterior brass is a rich brown color with most of the original lacquer remaining on the carrying handles.
The acid etched Roman numeral XII hour dial is in excellent
condition, but the surrounding bezel shows some minor corrosion along the rim at XII to III. It is marked, with
a count down indicator just below XII, then THOMAS BASSNETT, 5 Bath Street, Liverpool. The number 1845 is just above
the seconds arbor, and also on the front of the case.Inside, the movement’s only marking is the number
The case is in good condition considering its age and service
at sea, and has a rich, dark patina. The wood looks to be Teak, and shows some marks on the back and darkening of the wood
around the brass hardware where some of the varnish has leeched away.
This is a superior example of a mid 19th
Century ship’s chronometer from a family of instrument makers with a history that dates back to 1829. It is ideal for someone
who has a collection of the finest timepieces of this type.
Note large balance
wheel at top
serial number 845
Fusee spindle fully loaded with
Serviced in Genoa,
Italy in 1938
BASSNETT FAMILY:James Bassnett,
Thomas’ father was active as an instrument maker from about 1829 to 1857. In addition to clock and watches, he is known to
have made barometers, sextants, quadrants, telescopes, etc. Thomas joined his father in partnership, 1857-1865, and the
firm’s name was changed to James Bassnett & Son which continued in business at 8 Roberts St., Liverpool, until 1865.
BASSNETT AND THE SS ATLANTIC: 1865 is likely the date that Thomas setup business for himself. There is an interesting
reference on page 221 of Robert Love’s book “Destiny’s Voyage, SS ATLANTIC, the Titanic of 1873”. A British Court of Inquiry
was looking into the wreck of the Atlantic on the rocky coast of Nova Scotia in 1873. On a voyage from Liverpool, England
in April, the ship wrecked on the coast of Marrs Head, Mosher Island with a loss of 562 lives for unexplained reasons. The
Court was investigating the possibility that the ship’s compasses were faulty, even though there was no testimony to that
effect. It called Thomas Bassnett as a key witness since, as the maker of the ship’s navigation instruments, he had been hired
by Harland & Wolff the ship’s builder’s, to certify the placement and accuracy of the compasses after installation in
Belfast. Bassnett re-certified the ship the ship in Liverpool in 1871, and testified all navigation instruments were in good
working order and ready for sea. [You will have to read the book to find out the outcome of the court’s inquiry or buy this
clock, and you will receive with it a new hardcover copy of the book as our gift.]
This superior relic will be a worthy addition to
any nautical collection.
INSIDE CASE DIMENSIONS: 7 7/8″
square x 7 1/4″ H
Diameter clock – outside
4 3/4″ Face 3 3/4″
Weight 8 lbs 4 oz
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