English Clock For Qing Imperial Court Reaches $998,250 at Fontaine’s
English Automaton Clock Falls Just Under the $1 Million Mark at Fontaines January 21 Auction, Gaveling for an Impressive $998,250
The auction was held in Fontaine’s gallery, at 1485 West Housatonic Ave., in Pittsfield, Mass.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. An exceedingly rare 18th century English-made pagoda form automaton musical clock, produced for the Chinese Qing Imperial Court, fell just shy of the $1 million mark when it sold for $998,250 (including buyers premium) at Fontaines Auction Gallery’s Antiques and Fine Art Auction, held January 21st in the firms gallery at 1485 West Housatonic Street.
The English Automaton Clock was magnificent: 50 inches tall (raised, on a large black wood block base). It weighed 100 pounds and had an engraved chessboard pattern brass top, with 5-inch painted metal dials on the front and both sides and with Roman hour numerals. The time movement triggered the automaton mechanism once every two hours, and the heavy bronze case had elegant color paste set jewels.
As beautiful as the clock was physically, it was equally enchanting musically. It played two different tunes on a nest of eight bells, including the old Chinese folk song Mo Li Hau, which has been popular since the 17th century, in China and elsewhere. The pagoda animated every two hours, corresponding to the 12-hour Chinese time system, and the music played every two hours.
The case form was based on the Pagoda of Nanjing (or Temple of Repaid Gratitude), built in the 15th century, during the Chinese Ming dynasty. The structure was mostly destroyed in the 19th century, during the Taiping Rebellion, but with nine stories and a staircase in the middle, it was one of the tallest buildings in China and called one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
The English Automaton Clock was the expected top lot in a sale that featured over 450 items, including a fine clock collection, watches, music boxes, 19th & 20th century lighting, period furniture, oil paintings, bronzes, estate jewelry, silver and accessories. Internet bidding was provided by the platforms Invaluable.com and LiveAuctioneers.com, as well as the Fontaines Auction website, FontainesAuction.com.
The auction grossed just over $1.64 million. Following are additional highlight from the sale. All prices quoted, include a 21 percent buyers premium.
E. Howard & Co. (Boston) clocks, popular with collectors, are a staple at most Fontaines clock auctions, and this sale had several, to include a floor standing regulator, signed and dated 1891, with gravity escapement by H. Conant, that sold for $24,200. Also, a Joseph Jennens oak 9-tube grandfather clock, 106 inches tall, with carved oak case attributed to R. J. Horner, hit $25,410.
A French industrial animated clock with a gilt brass case in the form of a vertical steam boiler, with moving parts animated by a spring-driven mechanism, mounted on a rouge marble base, brought $20,570; while a French figural mystery two-chain swinger clock with a standing cast metal figure of a woman wearing a floral crown and holding a bouquet of flowers, made $5,142.
A three-color Pairpoint Puffy Rose table lamp with a 10-inch diameter reverse painted puffy shade with colorful roses on a green leafy background, on a molded spelter base with pyramidal poppy form, lit up the room for $9,377. Also, a large, room-size palace rug designed in four panels with birds and filigree, 159 inches by 255 inches, with no wear or repairs, changed hands for $6,352.
A pure white marble sculpture depiction of the mythological figure Diana, by Rafaello Battelli (It., 19th century), shown standing amongst a crescent moon and stars, 34 inches tall and signed, breezed to $19,360; and a large brown sculpture of two hounds (Pompier and Caron), tied to a tree trunk, by Auguste Nicolas Cain (Fr., 1822-1894), 25 inches tall, signed, finished at $7,865.
Rounding out just some of the days top performers, a Gothic pierced bronze center coffee table with a gilt bronze octagonal base with Gothic arches, finials and wavy pierced decorated panels, sold for $5,142 and a large figural walnut carved elk head with antlers, mounted with natural elk horns on a self-framed filigree carved back panel, carved by H. Leach, 56 inches tall, rose to $6,050.
Fontaines Auction Gallery has several big upcoming Antiques & Fine Art Auctions planned for the first half of 2017, scheduled on March 25th , April 22nd , May 2nd & June 17th, all held in the Pittsfield gallery with start times of 11 AM Eastern time which will feature fine clocks, watches, music boxes, 19th & 20th Century lighting, exceptional furniture, paintings, bronzes, jewelry, fine silver and accessories.
Fontaines Auction Gallery is actively seeking quality items, to include furniture, lighting, clocks and watches, paintings, porcelains, bronze and marble statuary, Asian items, art glass and cameo glass, Russian objects, silver, musical, coin-op, advertising, toys, banks, gaming and carousel items for future sales. Consignments are currently being accepted for all the upcoming auctions. To inquire, call Fontaines at (413) 448-8922.
The firm will buy outright or accept on consignment fine antiques, collections or entire estates. Call (413) 448-8922 and ask to speak with John Fontaine, or you can send Mr. Fontaine an e-mail to [email protected] For more information about the company and the upcoming auctions in March and May, please visit www.FontainesAuction.com. Updates are posted often.