12 November 2012
This lot is offered without a reserve
A lot of nine original letters, handwritten by Louis Bovet, Louis Auguste Jeanneret and Alphonse Bovet between 1837 and 1855 to Georges E. Guillaume in Fleurier and in London
The letters narrate the lives of Louis Bovet and Louis Auguste Jeanneret from their arrival in Canton, their difficulties of adapting to the new environment, joys, worries and sorrows, health problems, famine and the turmoil during the first opium war.
On 1 December 1839 Louis Bovet mentions in his letter that a brother of Ilbery was on a boat that wrecked on the island of Hainan in October. His brother went to his rescue on the boat sent to pick up the passengers.
Louis-Auguste Jeanneret mentions in his letter of 6 June 1840 that Louis Bovet would like to receive news from Anna Vaucher who still makes his heart beat.
In his letter dated 20 July 1844 Louis Bovet describes the plummeting watch business following the treaty with England. He states that the enormous quantity of watches imported into the country resulted in dropping prices. Bovet regrets that the wonderful repeaters sent by Guillaume do not find buyers at London prices and that one such watch gives him more trouble than 100 pairs of Chinese style ones.
Louis Bovet arrived in Canton in 1836 to assist his uncle Charles. When Charles Bovet had to return to Europe in 1838, he was joined by his childhood friend Louis Auguste Jeanneret. The firm enjoyed the most prosperous years under the management of the talented businessman Louis Bovet.
Jeanneret kept a detailed journal of his time in China to which he added also a number of gouaches showing junks, landscapes and other motifs. Some of these drawings are illustrated in La Montre Chinoise by Alfred Chapuis, pp. 117, 127 and 129. The journal is also mentioned in op.cit and furthermore in Jeanneret's letter of 26 November 1839 in which he states that he would send it to "Monsieur Bovet". It was published in 1866 under the title "Souvenirs du séjour d'un horloger neuchâtelois en Chine" (Souvenirs of the stay of a watchmaker from Neuchâtel in China).
For a detailed description of other letters written by Louis Bovet and Louis Auguste and the life of the latter and the other watchmakers living in Canton see La Montre Chinoise by Alfred Chapuis, Chapter VII.
Georges-Emile Guillaume (born in Ponts-de-Martel in 1817) was a watchmaker working in London and in Fleurier. In 1852 he was active as the provost of the Val-de-Travers, then Councillor and Councillor of the State for over 30 years. (9)
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This lot is offered without reserve.
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