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.
SOLD for $ 825K before fees
Please watch the video shared by Fontaine's to introduce the English pagoda clock :