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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Parliament Clock for Richard Winterton Auction

Imagine having a tax on clocks! This bizarre statement was in fact true back in the late eighteenth century in this country.

Parliament ClockA British clock tax was introduced in 1797 and it covered all timepieces, including watches and clocks. The annual tax was two shillings and sixpence for a basic watch and up to ten shillings for a gold watch and up to five shillings! Hospitals, the Royal Family and Parliament clocks were exempt. The tax spawned ‘Parliament Clocks’ also known as ‘Act of Parliament Clocks’ which came about as a result of this misguided short lived tax.

The tax predictably resulted in people not buying new clocks and watches which in turn drove many makers out of business.

In response, many public buildings and institutions, especially taverns put up large clocks of their own for public use, a clever tool to get more punters in. You could down a quick pint whilst checking the time!

Here we have an example of an Act of Parliament clock discovered in a Lichfield property by valuers at Richard Winterton Auctioneers. The dial is oversized presumably so it can be seen clearly in a tavern after a few pints. The case is ‘chinoiserie’ decorated and is solidly made. Such clocks are highly collectable in horology circles and can fetch well in to the thousands of pounds. This example is being auctioned at The Lichfield Auction Centre on 22nd October.

For further information contact the auction house on 01543 251081