DERHAM, William

DERHAM, William (Assisted by Hooke and Tompion). The Artificial Clockmaker . . . A Treatise of Watch, and Clock-work: Wherein the Art of Calculating Numbers for most sorts of Movements is explained to the capacity of the Unlearned. Also the History of Clock-work, both Ancient and Modern. With other Useful Matters never before Published. 

London, James Knapton, 1696.


Quarto, pp. vi 11, 132. FIRST EDITION. Very light browning, small tear in bottom margin of L 4 and R 4, neither affecting text. Single blind-stamped border with decorative motifs on corners, compartmentalised spine, gilt title on red leather in one, a clean and firm copy, bound in contemporary mottled calf well preserved. Ex-libris E.M. Bartlett. The Kenney copy.

William Derham, vicar of Upminster, Essex, is mainly known to horologists for this little treatise on clocks and watches. From the Restoration onwards, horology became a subject of scientific discussion and investigation. It was largely the innovations of Robert Hooke and his contemporary, Thomas Tompion, which enabled the field to move beyond imitation by blacksmiths. Derham’s work is a summation of horological discoveries to date and reflects the newly found serious nature of this field of study. In the preface of ‘The Artificial Clock-Maker’ he acknowledged the help he had received from Hooke and Tompion. ‘In the History of the Modern Inventions, I have had (among some others), the assistance chiefly of the ingenious Dr H . . . and Dr T . . .: The former being the Author of some, and well acquainted with others, of the Mechanical Inventions of that fertile Reign of King Charles II and the latter actually concerned in all, or most of the late inventions in Clock-work, by means of his famed skill in that, and other Mechanick operations’.

Derham was also a naturalist, scientist, and theologian. He contributed to the Transactions of the Royal Society and was elected fellow in 1702. On the accession of George I, Derham became chaplain to the Prince of Wales, afterwards George II, and was installed canon of Windsor in September 1716. (See also R. W. Symonds, (incidentally the grandfather of Thomas.J. Symonds), Thomas Tompion, (London 1951)).

Wing D 1099 (7 locations in UK; Clark Library, Boston Public Library, Library Company of Philadelphia and Yale only in US).