Page last updated at 17:26 GMT, Saturday, 6 February 2010

Rare pub clock sells at auction

George III Act of Parliament clock
Very few Act of Parliament clocks come up for auction in Scotland

A pub clock dating back to the introduction of a tax on timepieces more than 200 years ago has sold at auction for £8,800.

The George III Act of Parliament clock, decorated with hunting scenes, was made around 1797 and was once on the wall of a tavern.

It was discovered in a house in Aberdeenshire, where it had been in the possession of a family for decades.

It was sold at Shapes auction house in Edinburgh.

Act of Parliament public service wall clocks, most commonly found in taverns, appeared after the introduction of a tax on all British clocks and watches in 1797.

The result was many people simply stopped buying watches and clocks, and publicans tried to cash in by putting them up in their bars, hoping people would stay for a drink when they went in to check the time.

'Original state'

Speaking before the sale, senior auctioneer Paul Howard said the clock, which had been valued at between £5,000 and £6,000, had generated considerable interest.

He said the act had been so unpopular it was repealed less than a year later, after the clock-making industry had almost been destroyed.

Mr Howard added: "The tax was repealed after only a matter of months, which explains why genuine Act of Parliament clocks as so rare. They don't turn up very often, and certainly not in Scotland.

"This is the first one I've seen in the 12 years I've been here.

"It would originally have been in a tavern or pub, but it's difficult to say exactly where as it could have moved several times in the last 200 years. It is signed by the clock maker Robert Lumpkins.

"The dial has been re-gilded around 50 to 100 years ago, but the case and everything else about it is in its original state."

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