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.