Bracket Clock, London, England, c. 1785-95
Maker: David “Diego” Evans and Robert Higgs (active 1775-1825)
Medium: Red Lacquer, Wood, Metal
F11 Gift of Ethel Miller in 1941
This classic George III style bracket clock with a bell top is a great piece to look at, as we ring in the New Year and look forward to better times ahead. Made in London for the Spanish-speaking market, this elaborately painted clock has red lacquer with gold motifs in the Chinese style. This mix shows how interconnected the world was even back in the late 19th century. The English makers Higgs and Evans were respected producers of watches, table clocks, and long case clocks; they specialized in making pieces for the Spanish market. This clock, as with their other pieces, has the Spanish words Tocar and Silencio, which mean strike/play or silence. This allowed the owner to control whether the clock chimed or not—a very helpful nighttime feature. Evans would often change his first name from David to Diego, presumably to appeal to his Spanish clientele. The pair worked in Sweetings Alley in London and later at the Royal Exchange.
While we don’t know if the Harwoods had a clock quite like this, we do know they had a silver soup tureen that was made by a Spanish artisan for the export market, now in the museum’s collection. The tureen dates to the mid-19th century and was likely brought out on festive occasions, like William Harwood’s birthday which happens to be Christmas Eve.
If you are looking for a fun activity for good luck on New Year’s Eve, try eating twelve grapes at midnight. This tasty tradition that originated in Spain as early as the late 19th century is meant to ensure good luck and prosperity — what we are all hoping for in 2021.
By Rachel Lovett, Curator