Clapham & Norman Info contributed by James

A customer, James, came into the centre after reading the Clapham and Normal pocket watch article that asked for further info on the maker.  I repair clocks at the centre ( and so the subject of local clock makers is something I always like to hear about. Apologies to you, the reader, for the formatting of the email below – some of the font sizes went all over the place and I cant change them back!. Im better with clocks than computers. In fact I despise computers and believe an entirely clockwork world is the way forward.
Thanks again James
Chief Clockist
Braintree Antiques Centre.
[Pictures at the end of the email]
As promised, here is the little I know about these people. I see lists them, just saying “Clapham & Norman of Coggeshall. This clockmaker or watchmaker has 8 trade directory entries listed on this site”, but I wasn’t keen enough to stump up their fees for reading them. So…
I am related to Harry Clapham’s second wife and knew her and Harry Norman when I was a child, so while I can shed very little light on their business I do know a little about Messrs. Clapham and Norman themselves. 
As can be seen from the envelope, they traded as Clapham & Norman, Watchmakers & Jewellers, Market Hill, Coggeshall. What I cannot fathom though is their claim to having been ‘Established 1894’. I can find no other connection with this trade in either family so perhaps the most likely explanation is that they took over an existing business that had indeed been going since the 19th century. Eli [aka John] Fricker was a Coggeshall jeweller and watchmaker who died in 1883 but his property, both business and personal, was sold at auction in that year. There are records of a Mr H Barton in 1886 and a Frank Dunningham in 1891, both Watchmakers of Coggeshall, though no census return I can find includes any other jeweller or watchmaker in the town and the only such burials there were the Claphams. clockswatches lists a number of other watchmakers in Coggeshall but there is no indication as to their dates [without paying] so they could well be much later or earlier. Alternatively, as Harry Ernest Clapham was born in 1881 I suppose he could have bought and sold his first piece of jewellery as early as ’94, though it surely couldn’t have been regarded as an established business. I can find no record in the pages of the London Gazette of the partnership being formed or dissolved.
Harry’s father and his before him were boot makers in Coggeshall but in 1901 Harry was a Jeweller’s Assistant and in 1911 a Watchmaker’s Assistant. He was still in Coggeshall but I cannot say who he was assisting. Harry married Alice Blackwell (1881-1942) in 1903 and they had four children and it looks as though the youngest son might have worked with him and possibly taken on the business after his father died in 1959 as his burial record describes him as a Watchmaker as does his father’s, though Harold Stanley Clapham only outlived his father by four years. Alice’s forebears were gardeners, so the business didn’t come from them either. After Alice died Harry married my great aunt Winifred Emberson, nee Eady, (1889-1971) and they lived at Ivy House, Church Street, Coggeshall. The Eadys had no connection with watchmaking either, Win’s father was a coachman, as was Harry Norman’s father according to the 1901 census.
Harry Robert Norman was born in Bradwell in 1895, the year after his business was supposedly established! In 1911 Harry was an Apprentice to Watchmaker but again there is no indication as to who he was working for; he was still with his parents in Bradwell. His father Henry (1837-1922) was recorded as being an Estate Carpenter. Maybe Harry N was apprenticed to the same watchmaker that Harry C was assisting, and perhaps the most likely candidate is W J Underwood in Kelvedon, who was a 42 year old watchmaker in 1911, though he was in South Mimms in 1901 so presumably couldn’t have been Harry Clapham’s employer then [though the Underwoods could have just been away from Kelvedon temporarily at the time of the census] but it seems unlikely that the business could have moved to Coggeshall, changed its name and owners and still be considered the same enterprise to match that Established 1894 claim.
After Harry Clapham’s death – and before, along with Harry C, for all I know – Harry Norman lived with the second Mrs Clapham at Ivy House until her death. From what I know of the people, the times and their ages I am sure this was an entirely ‘proper’ arrangement. You couldn’t imagine anyone more proper than my Aunt Win! I remember the house was chock-full of clocks and midday was quite an experience! Harry Norman then returned to Bradwell and lived out the rest of his days at Tippetts Wade on the corner of Church Road and The Street, still interested in clocks judging by the photo, which looks as though it were taken for a newspaper article, and closely connected with the Church there, possibly as churchwarden. He died in 1981.

Does that make sense? I don’t suppose that is really what you were hoping for but it might suggest a line of enquiry or jog someone’s memory. I hope it is of some interest to somebody.

Coggeshall Museum is probably the best place to start looking for more information.

All the best,
PS. Please no not publish my email address. Cheers.
PICTURE 1: Harry Robert Norman. 1895-Nov 21,   1981
Harry Robert Norman. 1895-Nov 21, 1981
PICTURE 2: Clapham & Norman Envelope
Clapham & Norman Envelope

Clapham & Norman Watchmakers from Coggeshall


These came into the centre and by the time you read this they will be sold I imagine, however, they are good local interest items so I thought I would stick a couple of pictures up for those who follow such things.

A few of our customers have told us that they remember this firm in Coggeshall but information is hard to find on them. If you have any history or memories of this watchmaker we would love to hear about it and publish it as a follow up article.

If your into local clocks you might be interested in the following blog entry from our on-site clock repairer.

A Braintree Grandfather Clock Repaired!

Bavarian Cuckoo Clock c1850

This beautiful Bavarian with superb black forest carving and wooden movement is now available for sale here. Viewing is highly recommended as the nearest place you are likely to see this standard of clock is in the Cuckooland cuckoo clock museum which is…. up North somewhere!. Oh the clock is £3k or nearest offer.



c1780 Georgian Grandmother Clock for sale £485

I repair clocks here and sell one or two every now and again. Ive just serviced this and am pricing it very keenly!. Its a good clock with a very well looked after movement and the case is particularly good with high quality veneer and inlaid ivory key guard. Come and have a look at it if your interested and Ill be happy to show you around it and explain a bit of the history. The clock keeps excellent time – as good as any mechanical mantel or even wrist watch. The bell can be muffled if required and it has a beautiful slow tick that is not too loud but resonates nicely in the case which acts as a sound box on these clocks. If youve wanted to own a Grandfather clock but had thought them too expensive or unreliable then this is the clock for you as its going… well cheaply frankly, and Ill happily provide a years warranty providing you are reasonably local. Once these clocks work they rarely go wrong or stop unless you move them or fiddle with things (don’t). Having said that if you purchase this I will give full instructions on setting it and keeping it in good order. As I write this I am thinking “is this too cheap”. Probably but I get them at a good price broken and then fix them and provide warranty.


Battle Of Trafalgar Snuff Box

UPDATE 15.3.17: This item is no longer available

This is a really interesting item. This style of tobacco or snuff tin was popular at around 1800 and this is a particularly nice example.

The engraving on the front refers to the battle of Trafalgar in 1805 and is marked “HMS VICTORY” on the upper top face and then “H Gamer AB 1805” on the lower edge of the face. AB was the shortening of the term “Able Seaman” at that time.

I have checked with the Grenwich Maritime Museum library department who have the ships roster for the battle and unfortunately H Garner was not aboard. The was however a Garner registered as crew on the Phoebe in 1805 and it seems likely that this belonged to him. The engraving is very likely to be a celebratory commemorative items produced at the time where you could have your name and post engraved on a souvenir. On the other hand it really could be from the HMS Victory as records are not exhaustive or complete from this era. Its very hard to know so if YOU know from a reference piece of your own then please do get in touch and enlighten us.

In terms of authenticity of age it has all the right features i.e. a worn stippled world map on the rear which can just be seen on close inspection; its tin lined and… well, all in all,  anyopne would really stuggle to reproduce the obvious multiple signs of age on this item. The other thing of course is that if you were going to go to the trouble of faking such a thing its would be idiotic to put a name on the tin that was not on the official roster available at Grenwich for public enquiry.

Please feel free to use the picture of this item on your own blog or special interest site – digital rights are rescinded for these two photographs. If you do use the pictures we would really appreciate a mention or attribution on your site or blog.





Cracking Georgian Bureau with Secret Compartment

This is a really nice example of a mid range country Burea from about 1800. Brown furniture has suffered a huge price drop in the last few years. 5 or 10 years ago this would have been priced at around £1500 – £2000 but now it is an amazing £245 for this item. It wont decrease in value and will only rise because of the secret compartment.



Queen Anne Vigo Coin


Ok so this isnt really “our” news at Braintree Antiques Centre but we do have first hand account from a good friend of ours who works at Bonningtons Auctioneers and saw the coin come over the counter.

This coin is one of 20 Queen Anne Vigo coins. They were made from gold that was seized by the British in a…. well a Galleon fight really!. Gold was won / looted (depending on how you look at) from Spanish Galleons that docked at Vigo bay in Spain to escape the British blockade of Cadiz in 1703.

From this haul of gold and sliver many coins were struck and bear the words “Vigo”. However, only 20 gold coins were struck as the haul contained only 8lbs of gold, with the vast majority being silver. Until recently only 15 of the gold coins had been discovered from the original 20 made. That was until two builders took a coin from their childrens play pirates treasure chest.

The chap we know was at Bonningtons counter when the two builders arrived to get a valuation which they thought might be a few hundred pounds. The coin was quickly identified by Bonningtons and a first estimate or £80,000 was given. This was subject to further research as a “current value” for something this rare is anyones guess. At auction the coin made £300k.

Its does happen! AND there are four gold Vigos left unaccounted for which could be located literally anywhere. Maybe they are in your trinket box or attic.

The point here is that gold coins don’t generally get melted down. They are worth more intact, even as scrap, because their purity and provenance is known.  UK sovereigns or SA krugerands, for instance, are almost always kept intact and traded because in their original form they do no have to be assay marked ,which costs money if you melt them down.

The fact of the matter is that the four remaining gold vigos are….somewhere and more than likely unidentified and intact. Take a good look at the coins picture and memorise it!.

A couple of links for those interested in the history follow.


Flogging a dead horse literally

This curio has come into Braintree Antiques Centre and is currently guarding the stiars on the upper floor where we sell retro, repro and antique furniture.

We know a lot about antiques here, specially toys, however we have not been able to identify what this is or why it was produced. We are working on the assumption its a childs toy due to the size, but we are only guessing. If you have seen one of these before please email and let us know at

What we do know is..

  1. Its made of animal skin, possibly leather, over a wooden horse frame.
  2. The condition of the leather indicates a Georgian or mid Victorian production date
  3. Its a horse. Or its meant to be at any rate
  4. It scares children


Trumpet Lamp at Braintree Antiques Centre


Some of the dealers at Braintree Antques Centre create thier own products by re-repurposing vintage and unusual items. This trumpet lamp is typical of the sort of imaginative creative items that can be found here. As you can see David Onslow (a man of considerable engineering talents) has converted this rather nice old trumpet into a quirky and original gift. If you can find a better present for a trumpet player who already has a trumpet I would love to hear about it!.

Tiffany Reproduction Lamp at Braintree Antiques Centre

tiffany_lamp_braintree_antiques_centreThis is one of several reproductin Tiffany lamps we have for sale. These really are charming and beautiful items that really catch the eye. We tend to stock the designs reflecting the art nouveau period and find that the dragon fly design is by far the most popular with our customers. We have other reproduction items as well as antiques on our top floor where we have the space to display larger items such as tables, cabinets and chairs.

Columbia Grafanonola from Crouch End Maker – Video

We currrently have this in at the antiques centre. I almost didnt put this post up as quite frankly this item is a delight to have in the sale room. It works perfectly and is much louder than you would expect. Its a delight to listen to and brings visions of zepplins, hall dances and a simpler era. It comes with a few good 78 rpm LP’s but we can source more for the buyer if you want a collection to play. This is currently priced at £280 and whoever buys it is in for a treat and a really good talking point piece.



How offices used to be!

We are all familiar with the comedy posters put up at work telling employees what “the rules” are.

If you buy an older poster then you wont need to make up any rules – have a read of this vintage / antique poster!.



Houses Of Parliament Lead Figurine Of Guy Fawkes

houses_of_parliament_leadThe houses or pariliament were bombed during world war two at which point a lot of the lead on the roof melted and was subsequently reclaimed.

Its entirely appropriate that this was then made into this figurine or Guy Fawkes who tried the same thing a few hundred years earlier and was also unsuccessful!. This item can be viewed at Bratinree Antiques Centre and is priced at £165.

Antique Lead tobacco pot c1750

The older antiques are and the better condition they are in effects price on almost all genres. There are some exceptions however. Anything in soft metals like lead or pewter always show some wear and you also have to consider that what you see today as “damage” on an item may well be how it was presented when it was first made so it may not be in the “poor condition” that you imagine. A good example is this Antique tobacco box that dates from 1750 to 1800. The following picture shows an example that would be considered in good condition, although of course not perfect.


The following picture is an item we have for sale at Braintree Antiques Centre and as you can see it is in the same sort of condition although the item has been decorated with paints during its lifetime.

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This is currently on sale for £78 and theres not much you can buy these days from the 17th century at that price. We have lots more interesting items like this so please pay us a visit when your passing Braintree.