Rare Derbyshire clock from 1840 – kept in cupboard for years – set to go under the hammer

A rare Whitehurst of Derby clock dating back to 1840 has been discovered at a free valuation event – much to the delight of an antiques expert.

Monday, 22nd November 2021, 2:27 pm
The Whitehurst of Derby wall clock

Mike Wetton, clocks consultant at Hansons Auctioneers, was thrilled to be shown a Whitehurst of Derby hook and spike octagonal-shaped wall clock.

The important 181-year-old timepiece is now heading into Hansons’ December 7 Derbyshire Fine Art Auction with an estimate of £700-£900.

Mike said: “A client brought along this fascinating antique to a clock valuation day in November at Hansons’ Derbyshire headquarters in Etwall. I was delighted. It’s wonderful to see and handle an item made almost 200 years ago by a clockmaker renowned for quality.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

John Whitehurst

“The item had belonged to the seller’s late father.

"Apparently, it was his pride and joy.

"After he died his daughter kept the clock in a cupboard where it remained for the last few years.

“However, she felt it deserved to be seen and enjoyed again and, due to its history and heritage, felt it should be sold in Derbyshire, the county where it was made. She was overjoyed when I confirmed Hansons would be delighted to offer it for sale in Derbyshire. It means collectors all over the world will have the opportunity to bid on this fine Derby clock.

The Whitehurst angle barometer

“The timepiece itself is untouched and bears a serial number 5747. It dates to around 1840 and is ripe for restoration.

“By coincidence, the same auction includes a hugely important early John Whitehurst angle barometer. It’s dated 1736 when John Whitehurst, who was born in 1713, would have been only 23 years old. He was an ingenious man and finds like this show us that his brilliance emerged at an early age.

“The barometer has a 0 to 60 scale, is signed and dated and housed in an oak case with fine mahogany veneers to the front and side. The item was discovered in France. It’s so rare it has an estimate of £8,000-£10,000.”

John Whitehurst was an outstandingly bright and inventive man. He was one of the foremost scientists of his day and a founder member of the Lunar Society along with Erasmus Darwin and Josiah Wedgewood among others.

Whitehurst distinguishing himself by constructing several ingenious pieces of mechanism. As well as clocks, he made thermometers, barometers, and other philosophical instruments.

He was consulted in almost every undertaking in Derbyshire and in the neighbouring counties in which skill in mechanics, pneumatics, and hydraulics were required.

When he died in 1788, he left his clock making business to his nephew, John. The company ceased trading by 1862.

The Whitehurst wall clock and angle barometer are due to be sold in Hansons’ December 7 Derbyshire Fine Art Auction. Entries invited for forthcoming auctions. To arrange a free clock valuation, email [email protected] To book a free general valuation, email