Chronology : 1680-1699 1770-1779 1830-1839
1677 The Grandfather Escapement
2012 SOLD 1.27 M£ including premium
Not only it was one of the most useful of all inventions but also, by raising the skills of the mechanical craftsmen, it was certainly a key to the start of the industrial revolution.
Joseph Knibb, who worked in London since 1670, was one of those masters of the time. Skilled clockmaker, he was a precursor and perhaps one of the inventors of the anchor escapement, a basic accessory designed to ensure the isochrony of the pendulum as a function of the deflection angle.
Back to the beginnings of his career. The horological collection of the watchmaker George Daniels, which will be dispersed on November 6 in London by Sotheby's, includes two clocks made by Joseph Knibb, in ebony, with Roman numerals on the dial.
The most luxurious, dated 1677, has the shape already usual in his time of the table clock, a cube with a handle. It is estimated £ 600K.
The other, made around 1685, is a longcase clock, or in a more familiar wording, a grandfather clock. This type of model is an early easy approach to improve the accuracy thanks to the lengthening of the pendulum. It is estimated £ 200K.
Here is already the link to the announcement of the sale.
Here are the links to the catalogue for the table clock and for the longcase clock.
POST SALE COMMENT
Clocks made by Joseph Knibb were the stars of the George Daniels collection of ancient clocks.
The table clock discussed above was sold £ 1.27 million, and another less luxurious example reached £ 340K. The grandfather clock has not been sold.
Among other makers, let us mention at £ 300K a table clock made around 1697 by Thomas Tompion.
These results include premium.
1693 A Little Clock for Queen Mary
2019 SOLD for £ 1.93M including premium
Aware of the quality of his production, Tompion numbered his instruments, an exceptional practice in his time for a manufactured product. He mixes in a single serialization list the table clocks and the long case clocks. His clocks have a long autonomy. His grande sonnerie pieces offer a repetition of quarters over a long duration.
From 1692 or 1693 Tompion improves the elegance of his design with his Phase Two which includes the cushion dome, the thistle bud handle, the bellflower keyhole and the operation of the mechanism from the front face.
The master seems more interested in standardization than in miniaturization. Nevertheless Number 215 appears as the first of a small series of Phase Two table clocks with a total height of 28 cm including the raised handle. It was sold for £ 170K including premium by Bonhams on December 13, 2011.
Number 222, made especially for Queen Mary II in 1693 and known as the Q Clock, is the smallest clock ever made by Tompion with an ebony case. It is 20 cm high overall with the handle raised. It offers the quarter repetition and an autonomy of eight days.
Re-assembled in 1949 by a collector with its original movement, the Q Clock was sold for £ 440K including premium by Christie's on June 30, 1993. It will be sold by Bonhams in London on June 19, lot 103. The May 20 press release is announcing for this silver mounted royal clock an estimate in excess of £ 2M. A modern replica is joined to the lot.
Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
We are delighted to announce that one of the most valuable clocks ever to appear at auction, The King William & Queen Mary Royal Tompion, will star in The Clive Collection of Exceptional Clocks in London on 19 June.https://t.co/6ufWtyi4Ax pic.twitter.com/ROoThd69zu— Bonhams (@bonhams1793) May 20, 2019
1740 Tall case clock by Peter Stretch in Philadelphia
2004 SOLD for $ 1.7M including premium by Sotheby's
1766 A Flat Desk with its Clock of Cartonnier
2015 SOLD for € 2.22M including premium
All accessories are designed for writing: drawers and pull in the desk, black leathered top and the very tall serre papier now named cartonnier or filing cabinet which is surmounted by a clock.
The desks stamped by Montigny are rare. One of them is estimated € 2M for sale by Christie's in Paris on November 4, lot 510. It retained its matching cartonnier with its original clock as they were described in the inventory of the estate of a former intendant of Louis XVI in 1795. Two period écritoires are joined to complete the equipment.
The desk is adorned with a leafy garland in antiquisant style 'à la grecque' which was fashionable in the early 1760s. It certainly dates from the very beginning of the accession to the maîtrise by Montigny in 1766. The sets of furniture of this period in which desk, cabinet and clock were never separated are of extreme rarity.
I invite you to watch the video shared by Christie's.
ca 1774 Régulateur de Parquet by Berthoud
1999 SOLD for £ 1.93M including premium by Christie's
1783 Trunk and Ears of the Time Elephant
2012 SOLD 1.6 M£ including premium
The musical automaton for sale on July 4 in London by Sotheby's is highly sophisticated. Around 1780, the Swiss have not yet started the trend of songbirds. The main element of the piece is a big elephant that moves its trunk and ears and turns its eyeballs. Standing on the clock, it carries on its back a canopy covered pagoda surmounted by a Catherine wheel. The whole is 102 cm high.
This incredible object, estimated £ 1M, brought out from oblivion the maker who signed it, named Peter Torckler, listed in the commercial registers of London from 1780 to 1783. He thus appears as a skillful contemporary but probably also an unsuccessful competitor of James Cox.
There is no evidence that this piece went to reach China. It was probably in London in the 1890s when it was bought by the Shah of Persia.
POST SALE COMMENT
This piece of large size and extreme rarity was sold £ 1.6 million including premium.
I invite you to discover its main movements in the videos shared by Sotheby's.
1784 The Eyes of the Negresse
2019 SOLD for € 1.45M including premium
In 1784 in Paris, the baron de Ville d'Avray buys the office of Intendant du Garde-Meuble de la Couronne. In the shop of the clockmaker Furet in rue Saint-Honoré, a black head wearing a Nubian princess turban amuses the public. Ville d'Avray buys this piece for 4,000 livres.
This bronze bust conceals an ingenious clock, and its base contains a mechanical organ. The piece is 72 cm high overall. The woman is wearing a pair of hanging earrings. One of them triggers the appearance of the figure of the minutes in place of the iris of the right eye and similarly the figure of hours in the left eye. The other earring triggers the music.
Ville d'Avray is waiting for a good opportunity to place this clock. It clogs up very quickly by the coagulating oils, and he has it twice revised. He also acts to diversify the music. The clock is finally offered to the royal family among the 1792 new year gifts. Queen Marie-Antoinette decides not to leave this fragile piece in the hands of the Dauphin.
The Négresse was not a unique piece. The royal copy was authenticated in 1956 on the occasion of an exhibition at the Orangerie by Pierre Verlet, curator of the objects of art of the Louvre Museum. It wears two plaques in the name of Furet et Godon, who were associated from 1784 until Furet's bankruptcy in 1786.
Belonging since 1937 to the collection of the comtes de Ribes, the "Négresse de Marie-Antoinette" is estimated € 1M for sale by Sotheby's in Paris on December 11, lot 10.
Dated 1817 by a former supplier of Godon, probably after a repair, an incomplete copy of the same model was sold for € 810K including premium by Delorme Collin du Bocage on November 23, 2007. Three other examples are known.
1790s Technology Transfer from London to Canton
2010 SOLD 3.8 M$ including premium
But Qianlong was also a big fan of clocks, a craft where the British were clever. It is told that this emperor owned more than 4,000 clocks, decorated with musical automata. He set up specialized workshops in Beijing and Guangzhou, which started by importing the clockwork from England.
A retrospective look at the extraordinary sale made by Christie's in Hong Kong on May 27, 2008 provides valuable information. The luxury of these imperial table clocks is fabulous.
The most expensive clock, 36 M HK$ including premium, an English piece, was probably one of those introduced to Qianlong by Lord Macartney when he endeavoured to strengthen trade in 1793. Then came at HK $ 34 million a clock mounted in China on an English movement dated about 1771. It is a great demonstration of technology transfer at the end of the eighteenth century.
Echoing the tradition of home auctions, Sotheby's will sell on 8 and 9 June the furnishings of the 45 rooms of the country manor of Mrs. Kluge, in Virginia.
The beautiful table clock with gilt brass and enamel, estimated $ 600K, has been made in the workshops of Guangzhou. The automaton includes a waterfall, and characters who pass a landscape. The mechanism is later.
See this lot, and an overview of the sale, in the article shared by Roving Insight.
POST SALE COMMENT
As good as the superb lots sold in 2008! The clock of Mrs. Kluge is a masterpiece. It was sold $ 3.8 million including premium.
The English Pagoda
2017 SOLD for $ 1M including premium
On January 21 in Pittsfield MA, Fontaine's sells an English clock designed to please the Chinese, lot 118 estimated over $ 800K. Here is the link to the press release.
Its shape is inspired by the porcelain tower or pagoda of Nanjing, created at the request of the Yongle emperor of the Ming to be the masterpiece of the Buddhist devotion. This elegant monument destroyed by the Taiping rebels between 1856 and 1860 consisted of nine levels in decreasing surfaces with a total height of 80 meters. It was long the tallest building in the world, located in Nanjing which was the largest city in the world.
The clock for sale was recently found in a basement. It has been cleaned and is in working order. The automaton shrinking the nine levels is triggered every two hours as well as a music made by small bells distributed at all levels executing a tune that was highly popular at the time of the Qing. The total height of the instrument is 1.25 m in the raised position.
This clock is not unique : a similar unit was exhibited in Macao in 2004. We do not know more about its origins, certainly prior to the development of the clock workshops of the Qing. No Chinese imitation is referred in the catalog of the auction house.
For a year Fontaine's has offered some outstanding Chinese clocks. A clock made in Guangzhou at some time in the 19th century was sold for $ 1,27M including premium on May 21, 2016.
Please watch the video shared by Fontaine's to introduce the English pagoda clock :
1835 The Clock of the Duc d'Orléans
2012 SOLD 6.8 M$ including premium
In 1795, Abraham-Louis Breguet imagines the combination of a clock and a watch. This outstanding inventor manages later to achieve this stupendous set known as Breguet Sympathique.
After being used during the day, the watch is repositioned in a cradle at the top of the clock. At midnight, the clock triggers a mechanism that enters the watch, measures and rectifies the error. After a few days, the value of the error is integrated into the beat of the watch and its adjustment becomes automatic.
When Breguet died in 1823, five copies have been made. Only kings can afford to own such an expensive mechanism.
Being an extremely remote cousin of Charles X, Louis Philippe I becomes King of France after a revolution. His eldest son, the duc d'Orléans, is a brilliant prince who would like to live again in the luxury of the Ancien Régime. He commissions his sympathique clock to the Breguet workshop. It is completed in 1835.
Luxury adds to technical feat. 58 cm high, the piece is made in the imitation of Boulle style which is so fashionable in that time, in a cabinet by Bellangé and with Denière bronzes on a design by Questel.
The clock and the watch of this set have not been separated. Having been restored to operation by George Daniels, it provides an exceptional demonstration of one of the most advanced ideas of automatism.
POST SALE COMMENT
Again a great and deserved price for this fabulous clock: $ 6.8 million including premium.
1902 Fabergé Egg
2007 SOLD 9 M£ including premium by Christie's
I invite you to play the post sale video shared on YouTube by Russia Today :
1926 On the Desk of Anna Gould
2017 SOLD for € 1.12M including premium
The Palais Rose was built with the best marbles on the model of the Grand Trianon by comte Boni de Castellane who furnished it in an unbelievable luxury. Castellane could spend without sparing : he had obtained the hand and dowry of Anna Gould whose father had accumulated in the railway industry one of the most colossal fortunes in America.
Castellane spends too much and divorce becomes inevitable. Anna Gould remains in the Palais Rose and becomes after her second marriage in 1908 duchesse de Talleyrand and princesse de Sagan.
On March 7 in Paris, Christie's sells furniture and objects from the Palais Rose, destroyed in 1969 on behalf of a real estate developer. Lot 19 estimated € 1M is a very opulent nécessaire de bureau (desk kit) commissioned by Anna Gould to Cartier in 1926.
The Société Cartier is one of the pioneers of the Art Déco style much fashionable in Paris after the specialized exhibition of 1925, promoting functional objects. Cartier also offers various themes of oriental fantasy increasingly enjoyed at that time by the wealthy clients.
Anna Gould's kit is depicting a Japanese pagoda in a garden, decorated with figures of dragons and Fo lions. Mixing coral, aventurine, rock crystal, agate and mother-of-pearl and colored in enamels and lacquers, it measures 28 x 24 x 12 cm overall and weighs 6.7 Kg.
Centered on a pendulette, this piece includes two inkwells and a pen holder without omitting a lighting made of two 110-volt bulbs. In 2017 Cartier added a dip pen in lapis lazuli, quartz, onyx and coral matching the nécessaire.
2018 Sympathique with the Rubidium
2019 SOLD for $ 2.9M including premium
One of Breguet's most avant-garde designs was the Breguet Sympathique, a pocket watch that did not need to be touched for winding, time setting and regulation. When its power reserve approached depletion, it was inserted into a clock to which it was mechanically coupled. The word Sympathique is an evocation of the coupling, by its etymology meaning 'functioning by affinity'.
Obtaining the three settings simultaneously was a mechanical feat that was achieved by his workshop for the duc d'Orléans in 1835, twelve years after Breguet's death. Restarted to working condition by Daniels in the 1970s, the complete system was sold for $ 6.8M including premium by Sotheby's on December 4, 2012.
The Urwerk AMC (Atomic Mechanical Control) system unveiled in 2018 at Baselworld Miami is an adaptation of the Sympathique to the modern technologies. Without a direct application identified, this technical feat paves the way for new developments.
The time reference is provided by a 45 x 30 x 18 cm atomic clock weighing 35 Kg. It uses the quantum energy transitions of the rubidium atom, known by physicists to provide the best stability with a 1 second error for 317 years when it is associated with a garnet of yttrium and iron. It provides the stability of a wristwatch by coupling, without manual winding, without quartz, without battery.
Urwerk announced the production of the system in three units. A price of $ 2.7M was announced in period on the web by a specialized website. The titanium mechanical watch with the serial number 001 associated with its atomic clock is estimated to exceed $ 1M for sale by Phillips in New York on December 10, lot 8.