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MONSIEUR LEPAGE'S 'HORLOGE ASTRONOMIQUE'

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MONSIEUR LEPAGE'S 'HORLOGE ASTRONOMIQUE'


AN IMPORTANT LOUIS PHILIPPE ASTRONOMICAL ORRERY CLOCK WITH WORLD TIME BASED ON THE PTOLOMEIC SYSTEM
Jacques Antoine Lepage
THE MOVING ORRERY DIAL
Under a hinged 98 cm. sq. gilt frame with quartered domed glass cover centered with a convex magnifying glass of 18cm. diameter distanced from the orrery by 50 cm. Directly beneath and enlarged is the central Ptolomeic Earth enclosed within a gilt-metal semi-hemispherical cage forming the 24 meridian lines exposed at 19-19 degrees. At 23½ degrees latitude parallel to the equator is a circle representing the tropic of Cancer and above that at 66½ degrees the Polar circle, on the main dial directly beneath the earth are two sliding shutters indicating the length of daylight and darkness throught the year, the revolving moon with its gilt side illuminated by the sun indicating its phases and accomplishing its lunar month cycle in 29 days, 12 hours and 44 minutes. Around the circle indicating the four phases and eclipse of the moon is a large Zodiac ring of 27cm. diameter giving the five following indications; 1.the Solstices and the Equinoxes and their fixed locations, 2. indicating the months, 3. the cyphers of the month, 4. the 369 points indicating the days in the year and lastly the the twelve signs of the Zodiac, the revolving outermost 24-hour chapter ring with Roman numerals and half-hour star intermarkers is designed to show the spherical shape of the sky as in the system of Ptolomy, fixed to it are four 20cm. long black-painted revolving pointers indicating the four periods of the day with the midday indicator having on it a gilt sunburst adjusting throughout the year with the uppermost extension indicating the summer Solstice and descending to its lowest at the winter Solstice.
THE STATIC DIAL AND COPERNICAN STAR SYSTEM
signed LEPAGE SYSTÊME de COPERNIC
The main 72cm. diam. 24-hour Roman chapter ring describes the 12 morning hours in the east and and 12 evening hours in the west, the half-hours are indicated by 24 intermediary stars and the quarters and half-quarters by an outer band of 1cm. width, the world-time ring indicates forty-eight principal locations around the world including California, Paris, Peking, Jerusalem, Constantinople and Hamburg, their correct times being indicated by black-painted pointers affixed to the moving inner 24-hour ring, the Copernican sky is divided into 360 degrees with the twelve signs of the zodiac represented by the stars layed out in their orders.
THE MOVEMENTS
Driven on a pulley-weight system the the orrey movement with posted iron frame of square section housing a movement with brass wheels with anchor escapement with simple gridiron pendulum, the anchor pallets giving impulse to the subsidiary clock movement below via a line system to the driven pinwheel escapement, the dial having individual enamel Roman chapters with a gilt centre, pierced gilt hands with counter-balance and sweep-centre seconds.
THE CASE
Of 'lectern' form painted in faux mahogany with gilt mouldings and standing on a raised platform with detatched columns to the front with gilt composite caps, plain gilt-capped columns to the back, the right side with rectangular door with central lock giving access to the movement and wind, the upper section with viewing portal to a smaller door, the whole case surmounted by a mercurial wheel barometer with alcohol thermometer.
Provenance
Sold in 1854 to a Mademoiselle Duperouzel of Coutances for 800 Francs
Literature
Tardy, Dictionaire des Horloges Francais, pp.378

Lot Essay

Jacques Antoine Lepage was reputedly born in Hambye, France. Tardy, op. cit. lists that he was residing in Rue du Grand Chantier,Paris in 1830. However in the original documents applying for the patent (to be included in the lot) he is listed as Horloger à Coutances which is in the Manches region. That the clock was made in Paris is supported by the entry in Tardy op. cit. which states; Il présenta, en 1844, une horloge astronomique à l'A.S..
Accompanying the clock are four important documents original to the clock;
1. A full and detailed four page description of the whole clock by Lepage himself (with English translation)
2. A letters patent dated 8 August 1849 requesting a patent for 15 years for a system of an astronomical clock
3. A receipt from the patent office dated 6 August 1850 acknowledging payment of 100 francs
4. A hand-written receipt from Lepage (listed as living in Montmartin) acknowledging receipt of 800 francs from Mademoiselle Julie Duperouzel for the astronomical clock, dated 15 May, 1854
Like other orrerys in the past one strongly suspects that this clock was used as a method of teaching. The whole object embodies the sciences employing a multitude of interesting elements; time, the solar system, the star system, the geographical locations around the world and the barometer above not to mention a mechanical movement inside.
Lepages's use of the Ptolemaic system although antiquated by at least two centuries is perhaps easier to understand when mapped out in its present form and used for teaching purposes. The Ptolemeic theory was that the earth was the central celestial body about which the sun, moon and stars revolved and although disproved two centuries earlier by Galileo this theory is still used as the basis for modern navigation.
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