The finely figured case and cavetto molded arched hood with boldly canted corners and herringbone inlay; raised on a double plinth base; the conforming trunk door set with a barometer; having a seven-pillar two-train movement with Graham’s deadbeat escapement; the dial with full calendar aperture, equation of time, silvered Roman and Arabic chapter rings and a star-painted dial indicating moon phases, flanked by subsidiary rings for the day of the week and silent/strike.
Alexander Cumming (British, 1732-1814) was a gifted clockmaker and inventor. Born in Edinburgh, not much is known of his early life. By 1763 he was firmly established in London, first living off Bond Street and then moving to Fleet Street in 1781. He was asked to participate in a committee to investigate John Harrison’s H4 which is now recognized as one of the most important inventions in clockmaking, solving The Longitude Problem by allowing accurate longitude to be calculated while at sea. In 1765 George III paid Cumming 1,178 GBP for a clock-driven barograph (a barometer that records changes on a moving chart/piece of paper), the first of its kind. In addition to the large sum of the initial purchase, Cumming also received a retainer of 150 GBP to ensure its maintenance. Following this Royal Commission, in 1766, he published is very well-read Elements of Clock and Watchwork adapted to Practice. It was the standard work of the period and lead to him becoming an honorary Freeman of The Clockmaker’s Company in 1781. After several years working with his nephew, John Grant, also a renowned maker, Alexander Cumming settled in Pentonville (Islington area of London) where he owned property. He died on March 8th, 1841.
The barograph clock by Alexander Cummings is conserved in The Royal Collections at Buckingham Palace where today it stands in The Throne Room.