Tanner Antique Chess Clock

Lot #628. Tanner Antique Hastings Chess Clock

Tanner Antique Hastings Chess Clock.

This offering features a fine oak open cased Tanner Antique Hastings Chess Clock produced by  William E, Tanner. This mechanical analog clock features two wind-up mechanisms which could be independently stopped by pressing a button atop the frame which forced a wooden bar which held two metal strips to engage one of the escapements, thus causing that timing mechanism to stop. The underside of the timer had a tattered label affixed.

Tanner Hastings Clock

Printed on the label are “Brunswick Economy Label” and “Hastings   & St.  Leonards Chess Club” plus the hand-written initials H.C.C.

The case measures approximately 10 1/4″ x 6″ x 3″. The case is in excellent condition with a pleasing patina. Both the movements are also in working order.

The timer is labelled “The Reliable Chess Timer” “Wm.E Tanner, assemb’d by Redhill Surrey”. The movements are stamped with the crossed arrows of HAC and the movement cases are also stamped “HAC” “Made in Wurttemburg”. Tanner Timers, along with the more expensive Jaques Congress Timers, were used for most of the major chess  tournaments in the early 1900s. This Tanner Chess Timer dates from around the 1890s. These chess clocks were sold by The British Chess Federation.

The clock’s movements were manufactured by H.A.C. ( HAMBURG AMERICAN CLOCK Co., 1883-1929). Founded in 1883 by Paul Landenberger from an earlier partnership of Landenberger and Lang, this German company produced domestic clocks of all types using American methods and many American designs.  In 1892 the firm registered the crossed arrows Trademark which is instantly recognizable, and can be seen on the Tanner dial.  The company was involved in the production of clock movements, clock parts, dials, and cases for all types of clocks. Most of these products were sold to the trade as they were not in the business of selling finished clocks. Tanner would have bought in the movements (the works) from H.A.C. and had them assembled into their branded chess clocks. The rival Jaques Congress Timers also had movements from H.A.C.

Founded in 1882, the Hastings   & St.  Leonards Chess Club is most famous for having initiated the annual Hastings International Tournament, which is the oldest international event still running in the chess world. But the Hastings club is a remarkable place in itself, one of the oldest and wealthiest chess clubs in England. It recently celebrated its 125th anniversary, with a reception and rapid-play match.

The story of the club begins in the middle of June, in the “Year of our Lord 1882”, when the following notice appeared in the Hastings Observer:


A MEETING of those interested in CHESS, will be held at the TEMPERANCE HOTEL, QUEEN’S ROAD, HASTINGS on Wednesday, June 28th 1882. Chair will be taken at 7.30 p.m. by T.H. COLE, Esq.,  M.A. All chess players are invited for the purpose of discussing the formation of a Club.”

The Observer later reported that nine people attended: apart from Mr Cole it listed “Messrs Cheshire, Kimm, Gloynes, Cullwick, C. Smith, Dr. Colborne, F W Womersley &c”. The result of the meeting was the founding of the Hastings & St Leonards Chess Club. Even the most optimistic of those present could scarcely have envisaged that the club would still be flourishing 125 uninterrupted years later. Still less could they have imagined that it would vie with the Moscow Central as possibly the most famous chess club in the world, thanks to the Hastings International Chess Congress, which the club initiated, and which still runs to this day.

The Congress started with a one-off event in 1895. And what an event! The club’s energetic secretary of the day, H E Dobell, brought together a field of players headed by the world champion, Emanuel Lasker, and his “great predecessor”, Wilhelm Steinitz. Most of the other greats of the day were also there, including Tarrasch and Chigorin, but as is well-known, they were all eclipsed by the little-known American sensation, Harry Nelson Pillsbury.


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