Stock No.









George Aicken



Gold repousse pair cases

47.5 mm




A fine quality Irish verge, in wonderful gold repousse pair cases.

MOVEMENT : Fine quality gilt verge movement, with engraved and pierced balance cock, blued screws and silver regulator disk. Signed and numbered (402). All in very fine original condition, and running well. Excellent quality gilding and engraving on the balance cock and plate.

DIAL : White enamel in reasonable condition. There are several very light hairlines (mostly on the left hand side) but no repairs. Wonderful 18th century gold hands.

INNER CASE : 22ct. gold, with London hallmarks for 1775, maker IW. All in good condition, though some wear to the top of the pendant, and this with the bow are replacements (different colour of gold). The hinge is fine and the bezel snaps shut. Good high dome crystal with just a couple of very light scratches.

OUTER CASE : A very fine 22ct. gold pair case, with wonderful repousse work. A nice heavy case with just a little wear to the high points of the repousse work but no holes or repairs. The hinge and catch are fine and the case snaps shut, though the catch button has worn down.

The outer case contains a watchpaper from Chancellor & Sons of Lower Sackville Street, Dublin.

The gold cases weigh 59.1 gms (excluding movement and crystal).

James Aicken (or Aickin [1]) was born circa 1711 and died on the 14th of October 1795 aged 84. He was buried in Kilbrogan, then just outside Cork city. He was a prominent Freemason and worked from at least 1738 to 1780.  The Corporation of Youghal, just east of Cork City, of which Sir Walter Raleigh was Mayor from 1588-9, set £8 aside for him for “repairing and putting up” the town clock in 1777.  He also manufactured long case clocks.[2] He took at least two apprentices, William Knapp, who opened his own business in 1760 “at the sign of the dial in Broad Lane”.[3] Cork was a major Atlantic port at this time, with extensive trade links to many European countries, and arguably the most cosmopolitan town in Ireland[4] but Knapp left for Dublin and London and, later, Annapolis, Maryland where he was working in March of 1764.[5]  One of his Cork contemporaries, William Whetcroft, also emigrated to the New World and married Frances,[6] the widow Knapp when William died on a sea voyage around 1769. Another of James Aickens apprentices,  Newth Jenkins, began work independently in 1763.[3]  

James Aicken was married twice, first to Martha Solly in 1738, [7] and later to Sarah Popham in 1745, by whom he had at least two sons and two daughters.[3]  One of his sons, George, followed his father’s footsteps in the clock trade with premises also in James Street and Queen’s Place.[8] He was apprenticed in London, and, although he is said to have worked from 1766-1795,[3] the Register of Apprentices of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers of the City of London shows that he was apprenticed to Joshua Hassell in London on June 21st, 1763.[9]  He was Free of the Clockmakers Company on the 29th May 1777 and became a liveryman in the same year.[10]  He is also listed among the Cork Goldsmiths.  He returned to Cork, and, like his father, married twice.  By a bizarre coincidence his second wife was also called Sarah Popham![7] He was admitted Freeman at large of Cork on September 1st 1778.[3]  He took three apprentices Robert Milliken (1783) who was still in Cork in 1824[11], William Kiles (1784) who migrated to Waterford[1] and Richard Hayes Knolles (1788).[3] He had two children but died in 1813 taking the Aicken name from Cork clockmaking circles with him.[1] 

He was a fine maker and several of his pieces have survived including a musical clock.[1] 

1. Fennell, G., A List of Irish Watch and Clock Makers. 1963, Dublin: National Museum of Ireland.

2. Cork, C.P.M., Descriptive Note to Aicken Longcase Clock. 1998.

3. Ffolliott, R., Biographical Notes on Some Cork Clock and Watch Makers. Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, 1964: p. 38-55.

4. Cullen, L.M., An economic history of Ireland since 1660. 1972, London: B.T. Batsford.

5. Advertisement, in The Maryland Gazette. 1764: Annapolis. p. 2-2.

6. Whisker, J.B., Clockmakers and Watchmakers of Maryland  1660-1900. 1997, Lewiston, New York.: The Edwin Mellen Press.

7. Ffolliott, R., Microfiche Index to Biographical Notices 1758 to 1821 for Waterford, Clonmel, Limerick and Ennis in the Possession of Waterford Library. 1985: Waterford.

8. Stuart, W.G., Watch and Clockmakers in Ireland. 2000, Dublin: June Stuart, Kildrought House, Celbridge, Co Kildare, Ireland.

9. Atkins, C.E., Register of Apprentices of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers of the City of London. 1931, London: Privately Printed.

10. Daniels, G., Freemen of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers 1631-1984. 1984, Riversdale, Isle of Man: George Daniels.

11. Pigot, City of Dublin and Hibernian Provincial Directory. 1824, London, Manchester: J Pigot & Co.


© Killian Robinson 2015