The timepiece by John Knibb which made £75,000 at Tennants.

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Signed Johannes Knibb and inscribed Oxon Fecit, circa 1685, it appears to have, on the front plate, one of the earliest forms of quarter repeating work. The catalogue entry noted a similar clock, and quarter repeating work examples illustrated in Dawson (Percy G), Drover (CB) and Parkes (DW) Early English Clocks.

John Knibb (1650-1722) was the younger brother of Joseph Knibb (1640-1721), both of the renowned family of clockmakers. John worked as apprentice to Joseph in Oxford c.1664 and they were clockmakers to Kings Charles II and James II. When Joseph later moved to London, John took charge of the Oxford business and received the Freedom of the City in 1673. In 1700 he was made the Mayor of Oxford.

The clock here had a pull quarter repeat and alarm and, according to auctioneer Rodney Tennant, was universally admired by even the usually more critical members of the trade and collectors on viewing day.

Come the sale on July 22-23, the vendor was in the front row to watch a large commission bid and seven phones fight it out, with the bidding soon leaving the £25,000-35,000 estimate way behind.

All stayed in contention past £50,000, with the hammer eventually falling to a private collector against the trade at £75,000.

Mr Tennant, who told ATG that the vendor left the room "with tears in her eyes" at the astonishing price, said that the Leyburn rooms may soon be offering more pieces from the collection, although he didn't anticipate any more Knibbs emerging.

The buyer's premium was 17.5 per cent.

By Ivan Macquisten