William Webber’s son, William Webster, made this magnificent Chinoise Chippendale longcase 8-day clock. In 1760 all things Chinese were very fashionable. William’s craftsmen applied a gesso base on the wood. Over that came a green Japanned lacquer finish with gold leaf decorations. William waited for a buyer. One arrived and the clock began its journey.
Time was measured, proclaimed and spent in one home after another, interspersed by new journeys. The centuries ticked by. Eventually the clock left England to travel across the globe to British Columbia. In 1979 it was time to leave another home when a Victoria donor made a timely gift (979.104.1) to our museum.
Time passed as curators and conservators examined the rare finish and discussed the state of the clock. Time had taken its toll. Off it went to the Conservation Institute of Canada (1994).
For the next decade conservators spent their time in a painstaking restoration. They removed each piece of gold leaf — one tiny fragment at a time, with tweezers. Tick. Tick. Tick. The Japanned finish was restored and documented in a technical paper read world-wide.
Magnificently restored, our longcase clock journeyed back to us. It is our oldest clock and likely the oldest west of Toronto – a magnificent world-class specimen.
It keeps time and waits for visitors in the hotel bedroom on our third floor galleries. There is time, in every object.