MOULINIÉ, BAUTTE & CIE. AN EXTREMELY RARE, IMPORTANT AND FINE GOLD, ENAMEL AND PEARL-SET FLINTLOCK PISTOL-FORM PERFUME SPRINKLER WITH CONCEALED WATCH, MADE FOR THE CHINESE MARKET
MOULINIÉ, BAUTTE & CIE. AN EXTREMELY RARE, IMPORTANT AND FINE GOLD, ENAMEL AND PEARL-SET FLINTLOCK PISTOL-FORM PERFUME SPRINKLER WITH CONCEALED WATCH, MADE FOR THE CHINESE MARKET

SIGNED MOULINIÉ, BAUTTE & CIE, GENEVE, CIRCA 1805

Details
MOULINIÉ, BAUTTE & CIE. AN EXTREMELY RARE, IMPORTANT AND FINE GOLD, ENAMEL AND PEARL-SET FLINTLOCK PISTOL-FORM PERFUME SPRINKLER WITH CONCEALED WATCH, MADE FOR THE CHINESE MARKET
SIGNED MOULINIÉ, BAUTTE & CIE, GENEVE, CIRCA 1805
Gilt brass verge movement, chain fusée, pierced and chased cock, polished steel endstone, white enamel dial, Arabic numerals, gold hands, concealed behind circular covers at the end of the handle, opening on secret button in the band, flintlock-shaped gold case, grips with translucent scarlet enamel over engine-turned background, set with pearl-set gold rosette, split pearl-set lower and upper edges, centred by split-pearl framed gold plates finely chased with a dog on one side and a rabbit on the reverse, the top edges set with half pearls, gold matted and engraved hammer, the head of the flint vise engraved with lion's head, engraved rounded gold vise nut, agate flint, blue enamelled octagonal barrel decorated with paillonné and laurel foliage simulating damascene works, pearl-set tip, the perfume is spread through the pistils of the gold tulip with enamel petals, released by the percussion of the hammer when the trigger is depressed, with gold slide underneath to retreat into the barrel, signed Moulinié Bautte & Cie a Geneve under the trigger
110 mm. overall length

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Annie Lee
Annie Lee

Lot Essay

US$350,000-562,500

From the 16th century, Chinese emperors and their courtiers developed an insatiable appetite for clocks, watches and mechanical curiosities made in Europe. Pocket watches were considered valuable commodities and status symbols, luxury objects that came from the West. Entrepreneurial watch makers from the West, or "Sing Song Merchants" as they were called, looked upon China as the new market and created designs and mechanisms especially for the Chinese Market. These timepieces often came in fanciful shpaes and associated horological complications with extreme miniaturisation with the creative artistry of master goldsmiths and artisans. Today more than one thousand examples of such rarities still exist at the Beijing Palace Museum located in the Forbidden City.
A stunning marriage of 19th century Swiss technology and exquisite craftsmanship, this pistol combined with watch and perfume sprinkler epitomizes the creativity of watch makers in Europe to satisfy the ever-growing demands for clocks and automata by the Imperial Court and its courtiers in China, as well as European aristocrats and royal families, particularly in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Another variant of automated pistols featuring a signing bird instead of a perfume sprinkler mechanisim, which are larger in size can be found in the world's most prestigious museums and private collections. One single pistol is found in the Museum for Islamic art in Jerusalem which houses the Sir David Salomons Magnificent Collection of Clocks and Watches (see The Art of Time - The Sir David Salomons Collection of Watches and Clocks by George Daniels and Ohannes Markarian, L.A. Mayer Museum for Islamic Art, edition 2009. p.62). Another single pistol is recorded int he Maurice Sandoz Collection in Switzerland. The Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva, Switzerland owns two single pistols, one of which was purchased at Christie's in 1989. Only one pair of singing bird pistols is known to remain in private hands which sold in these rooms in May 2011.

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