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    Sale 2796

    The P.C. Spaans Collection of Important European Clocks

    19 December 2007, Amsterdam

  • Lot 417

    A rare South German engraved gilt-brass and gilt-copper striking and automaton 'reiter uhr'


    Price Realised  


    A rare South German engraved gilt-brass and gilt-copper striking and automaton 'reiter uhr'
    Probably Augsburg. Circa 1600
    THE FIGURE: his body modelled in two sections, wearing cap and cape, with painted face, ruff collar and hands, with automaton head and right arm, the latter holding a sceptre; astride a finely chiselled horse with painted automaton eyes and ormolu automaton tail
    THE BASE: the upper platform engraved with serpents, snails and foliage and inset with three silver dials, the moulded sides engraved with foliate scroll strapwork, and with a stag, a horse, a unicorn and a lion, each animal reserve with buildings in the background, the underside with plain copper plate with bell and winding apertures and raised on gilt-brass bun feet (possibly later)
    THE DIALS: for hours (calibrated I-XII and 13-24), centred by an alarm disc (its centre with vestiges of enamel decoration); regulation (calibrated 1-5); and for strike recording; with alarm release latch by the hour dial, moving on a reserve inscribed SW/STE; all dials with gilt-brass hands
    THE MOVEMENT: with oval plates, the bottom plate of gilded brass and the top plate of polished steel, joined by four front and back screwed steel pillars; the twin brass fusees with steel teeth and gut lines on brass barrels, steel verge crownwheel and plain steel three-arm spring (later) balance, with geared regulation from above, steel barrel for the alarm; the top plate with countwheel for hourly strike on bell below, the alarm using the same bell with a different hammer; restorations
    THE AUTOMATA: activated by the countwheel on the hour and connected via arbors through the horse's left foreleg, causing the the horse's eyes and tail to move and the figure to move his head back and forth to the right and lower and raise his sceptre-bearing arm; all while the clock is striking; restorations
    See movement details p.31
    29.5 cm. high

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    Klaus Maurice & Otto Mayr, Die Welt Als Uhr, Deutsche Uhren und Automaton 1550-1650, Munich, 1980, p.248, fig.73
    Tardy, French Clocks, Clocks the World Over, Vol.IV, Paris, 1985, pp.206-207
    Klaus Maurice, Die deutsche Räderuhr, Part II, Munich, 1976, pp.277-278, figs. 272-277.

    An equestrian automaton clock of closely related design, by Nikolaus Schmidt of Augsburg (illustrated Maurice & Mayr), was sold Sotheby's New York, Masterpieces from the Time Museum, 19 June 2002, lot 203.
    By the end of the 16th Century the art of automata making was well established in South Germany, particularly in Nuremberg and Augsburg. Popular subjects included lions with moving eyes and jaws and bears. Of human automata, the most common were Moorish or Turkish standing figures pointing to the time on a globe or recumbent figures of Urania (see Maurice figs.315-381). Equestrian figures are far more rare. Maurice shows three examples of Turkish pashas on horseback (figs.272-274) and just three Reiter clocks, including what appears to be the present example; the other two have figures wearing different hats and one of them has drums. The Sotheby's and Tardy clocks are modelled with the same hat and cape as on the present figure. The clothing and sceptre suggest a figure high rank -- quite probably the Holy Roman Emperor.

    Special Notice

    Christie’s charges a premium to the buyer on the Hammer Price of each lot sold at the following rates: 29.75% of the Hammer Price of each lot up to and including €5,000, plus 23.8% of the Hammer Price between €5,001 and €400,000, plus 14.28% of any amount in excess of €400,001. Buyer’s premium is calculated on the basis of each lot individually.


    Illustrated, Klaus Maurice, Die deutsche Räderuhr, Part II, Munich, 1976, fig.276.