Australian Historical Art Fund & Heritage Government Residences

Long Case Clock

Long Case Clock, 1827
James Oatley (1770-1839)
Height: 225cm

James Oatley is the most highly regarded of Australia's clock and watchmakers of the early days of the colony of N.S.W. Oatley came to Sydney in 1815 as a convict for stealing bed linen in England. Appointed by Governor Macquarie as the Keeper of the Town Hall Clock, Oatley was employed to install the still functioning turret clock in the pediment of the Hyde Park Barracks in Macquarie Street. After 1803, long case clocks could be purchased in Australia, but they were imported clock movements installed in locally made cases.

Oatley set up a watchmaking business in George Street, Sydney opposite the Sydney Town Hall, where he produced and sold many long case clocks to prosperous and prominent colonial citizens. Fewer than two dozen of these clocks are extant. In Oatley's workshop, he made all the clock components for his long case clocks.

This Oatley long case clock has a cedar case, decorated with finely rendered pine stringing on the hood, trunk and plinth of the clock. It has a scrolled swan neck pediment on the hood flanked by rope twist pillars echoed by rope twist pillars applied to the clock body. Oatley's clocks are indicated by his name inscribed on their silvered brass dials. This is a later example of his work in 1827, numbered '31' and it had been originally acquired by the settler Thomas Rose in 1831. Acquired for the Bicentennary year in 1988, this was a significant acquisition as Oatley's clocks are so highly valued.


This selection represents a small sample of our collection. Our book detailing the collection is currently out of print.
An updated edition has been published in 2017.
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