• English Furniture and Clocks auction at Christies

    Sale 7769

    English Furniture and Clocks

    19 November 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 39


    CIRCA 1820

    Price Realised  


    CIRCA 1820
    CASE: foliate-mounted arched case with moulded top and urn finial, bombé sides with ribbon-tied rosettes above silk-backed cast foliate frets, on acanthus leaf and scroll feet DIAL: gilt-brass frames to blue floral enamel spandrels and white enamel chapter disc (restored), painted automaton waterfall scene with automaton ducks to the arch, pierced brass hands MOVEMENT: triple line fusees, verge escapement, hour strike on single bell, music playing hourly or at will on a nest of eight bells via eight hammers and 1¾ in. long pin barrel, engraved border and 'nonsense' signature to back plate; winding key
    14½ in. (37 cm.) high; 7¼ in. (18.5 cm.) wide; 4¾ in. (12 cm.) deep

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    It is highly unusual to find a musical and automaton table clock as small as the present example. Given the complexities of musical and automaton movements, it takes great skill to produce a movement with all these features and fit it into such a small case. Needless to say, the movement of this clock is a very close fit; indeed, the spring barrels scarcely clear the sides of the case.
    Consequently, small clocks with music work and/or automaton features appear infrequently at auction. In recent years, examples have included: a pair of red tortoiseshell musical and automaton table clocks for the Turkish market by Markwick Markham (34 cm. high, sold Christie's London, 1 July 2008, lot 41, £181,250); a gold-mounted bloodstone musical and automaton clock for the Turkish market by Markwick, Markham Perigal (28 cm. high, sold Christie's London, 7 December 2005, lot 120, £254,000); and an ebonised musical clock (no automaton work) with enamel dial by George Margetts (24 cm. high, sold Christie's London, 1 July 2005, lot 104, £17,400).
    A Chinese ormolu musical and automaton clock was sold Christie's London, 22 January 2009, lot 160 (£121,250).
    Although most certainly Chinese-made, this clock's design clearly owes much to contemporary English models. Francis Perigal, amongst others, produced similar -- but larger -- cases for his musical and automaton clocks. Indeed, close comparison may be drawn with the tortoiseshell musical and automaton clock by Marriott in the present sale (see lot 40).
    So-called 'nonsense' signatures (frequently indecipherable) are frequently found on Chinese-made clocks of this period. Again, they are a reflection of European influence on Chinese makers. Seeing signatures on foreign clocks, Chinese clockmakers clearly believed their own clocks would be more attractive with this detail.

    Special Notice

    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium

    Pre-Lot Text

    The Property of the late Mr Harvey J. Duke of San Antonio, Texas