A Very Rare Tidal and Lunar Bracket Timepiece, c. 1775, by Johnson, London, after a design by James Ferguson.

James Ferguson was an eminent astronomer and horologist. The dial of this timepiece shows lunar time and phase and solar time.

The lunar date and times of high tide can be read in the sector on the second disc. The moon’s effect on the tides is also shown; within the arch there is a visible indication of the rising tide.

In 1867, William Alleyne, 3rd Marquess of Exeter (1825-1895), to whom this exotic timepiece belonged, inherited the title and an estate which was in financial turmoil.

His father had owned racehorses, and, whilst some of them were successful, he had spent a fortune on the ‘Sport  of Kings.’

Partial recovery was achieved by selling sizeable amounts of property, but sadly, the young Lord Exeter also had expensive tastes.

He owned a series of yachts, both sail and steam-driven, which seem to have been in permanent need of expensive repair.

Recently discovered documents have revealed that one of Lord Exeter’s ship-borne destinations was Monte Carlo, which explains why, within 15 years, his debts exceeded those of his father.


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