New York, Park Avenue
30 October 1996
A SWISS ORMOLU-MOUNTED TORTOISESHELL MUSICAL AND DOUBLE SIX-HOUR STRIKING GRANDE SONNERIE PIPE ORGAN CLOCK
attributed to pierre jaquet-droz, chaux-de-fonds, switzerland, circa 1780
The molded white enamel Roman and Arabic chapter disc with elaborate pierced and chased ormolu hands, within a gilt-brass mask applied with an ormolu mount of two palm trees flanking an Ionic arch, the movement with rectangular plates and four-back pinned pillars, verge escapement with silk-suspended pendulum with crescent moon bob, the polished steel and brass rack-and-snail work planted on the backplate with double six-hour grande sonnerie strike on two bells above, the pipe organ tripped off every hour or at will employing a massive double-chain fusee movement playing through fifteen pipes via a large bellows and 24cm. long wood barrel with steel pins, the well-proportioned case with concave-molded top surmounted by an ormolu urn embellished with berried laurel swags, the galleried break arch top with four urn finials, large foliate-cast handles above the side doors; the right door with a trellis-cast sound fret with two holes for the organ's twin fusees and with trip-cord to release the movement at will, the left door applied with a white-enamel Arabic chapter disc numbered 1-8 with blued steel hand enabling selection for one of eight tunes, heavy ormolu foliate-cast mounts to the chamfered sides terminating in foliate-cast scroll feet
33½in. (85cm.) high
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Derek Roberts, Amazing Clocks, Tunbridge Wells, 1987, pp.64-7, figs 1-4
Arthur W.J.G. Ord-Hume, Hong Kong, 1995, p.229, pl.XI 19-20
Pierre Jaquet-Droz was born at La Chaux-de-Fonds in 1721 and died in Bienne in 1790. He was one of the most brilliant and innovative clockmakers of his era. His company specialised in musical and automaton clocks, boxes, fans, singing birds and all manner of ingenious play-toys. He journeyed throughout the whole world including England, France and Spain. In Madrid he was condemned to death by the Inquisition for allegedly practicing black magic but was saved by the Bishop of Toledo. During the latter part of his life he took his adopted son, J.F. Leschot into business and the company continued to prosper until after his death.
Jaquet Droz made a number of organ clocks in the style of the present example and curiously only a few were ever signed. According to Ord-Hume op. cit., the present clock has a thirteen-key organ playing a single register of stopped metal pipes with the scale g (diatonic) c with an additional g# and f#.
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