Jacques Nève is an clockmaker and has been a member of the CNES (Chambre Nationale des Experts Spécialisés en objets d’art et de collection) since 2009. His workshop is located in Braine-le-Château, Belgium.
Jacques Nève offers a selection of clocks dating from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, carefully selected in terms of quality, originality and historical provenance.
The expert horlogist Jacques Nève also provides confidential appraisals for estate settlements, division of family property, insurance coverage and sales purposes. Certificates of authenticity can be provided on request.
Objects "Jacques Nève"
Antoine-Henri Rodanet, ormolu case carriage clock with ‘Grande Sonnerie’ and full calendar for the English market, second half of the nineteenth Century. Grande Sonnerie, The movement with Maltese crosses on all barrels, allowing for better timekeeping, the silvered platform with English-type crabtooth escapement and cut bi-metallic balance wheel. Double-rack quarter-strike on two blued steel gongs, with repeat button on top of the case. The selector in the base allows for “Petite Sonnerie” (striking), strike suppression (silent) and “Grande Sonnerie” (full striking). Alarum on one of the gongs. Ebauche movement from Drocourt, one of the most excellent contemporary manufacturers of movements of this kind. Autonomy 8 days. Petite Sonnerie, Four circular enamel dials in a frosted silvered support plate, the main indicating hours and minutes, the subsidiaries indicating the days of the week on the left, the alarum in the centre and the days of the month on the right, all with blued steel spade hands, signature A.H. Rodanet, Fournisseur de la Marine de l’Etat, 36 Rue Vivienne, PARIS. Ormolu Gorge case with bevelled glass on five sides allowing for a good view of the movement from all sides, the serial number 21530 is indicated on the rear movement plate and repeated twice on the case, and once on the original winding key. Original leather travelling box. A.H. Rodanet, Fournisseur de la Marine de l’Etat, 36 Rue Vivienne, PARIS, H. 7¾" (17 cm) with handle upright; W. 4" (10 cm); D. 3 ½" (9 cm), Antoine-Henri Rodanet was established at 36 rue Vivienne in 1870 and registered his trademark ‘Horlogerie de Paris’ in 1890. The firm participated in the Paris Universal Exhibitions of 1855 and 1867. In 1855, J. H. Rodanet showcased several ‘chronometers and horological tools’ (N°1846, 8° Cl.) and was awarded a First Class Medal. Antoine-Henri exhibited some ‘chronometers and watches’ (N°8, Groupe III – Classe 23) in 1867. He died in 1907. The firm was passed on to Doffe succ. De Margaine, then to Mme Sanselme around 1928, who married M. Michel in 1937. € 11500.-Read more
- Fixed price
- 9 700 GBP
French Art Deco mantelpiece, "Patience", Circa 1925, signed S.Bizard on the clothing, near the right foot. Paris movement from an ebauche by the Société Clusienne (Cluses, France). Half-rollers escapement and steel suspension from the patents by Achille Brocot, countwheel strike on the hours and half-hours on a silvered bell, autonomy of two weeks. Patinated gilt bronze dial with Arabic numerals of Art Deco style, finely cut, engraved and gilt hands. Case and cupolas in red “griotte” marble from the Minervois region (Hérault-France) , patinated gilt bronze statue representing “Patience”, a young nude maiden, kneeling and trying to tame a turtle. Her boyish hairdo and thin silhouette are typical from the Art Deco models. ebauche, Société Clusienne, H. 30 cm, (9 ¾”); W. 37 cm, (14 ½)”; D. 13 cm, (5”) H. 10 cm,( 4”); W. 28 cm, (11”); D. 10 cm, (4”), SUZANNE BIZARD was a sculptor and life member of the French Artists Society. She exhibited at the Paris fair right until 1930. She was awarded an honourable mention in 1900, when her plaster statue Vers l’idéal (N° 1846) was purchased by the French State. She won another bronze medal in 1913. She was specialized in bust portraits, children statuettes and group sculptures. € 4900.-Read more
- Fixed price
- 4 100 GBP
Small table "wedding" clock in ormolu and Vernis Martin, Louis XV-period, circa 1760; three-train movement with verge escapement and silk suspension. Quarter-strike on three silvered bells, two countwheels, a small lever on the left of the dial allows for the easy setting up of the hourly strike. Beautifully engraved signature Verneaux à Paris on the rear plate. Three-weeks autonomy. Large enamel dial with blue Roman numerals for the hours, Arabic numerals for the five minutes and gold stars for the half-hours, similar signature. Finely cut and engraved gilt hands. Oak case decorated in the Vernis Martin fashion with painted white roses on a dark blue background. Very fine fire-gilded bronze work with flowers, shells, and various scrolls, two fish scale widows on the sides, and surmounted by the two kissing doves symbolizing love. H. 19" (48 cm), W. 10 ¾" (27 cm), D. 6" (15 cm), († before 1781), father of Henry-François. Made master on January 4th, 1747 by privilege of the Hôpital de la Trinité. Garde-Visiteur (1760-1762 and 1767-1769). Rue Saint-Martin (1748), rue de la Comédie-Française (1767), rue des Fossés-Saint-Germain-des-Prés (1768), rue de Bussy (1768), rue des Fossés-Monsieur-le-Prince (1775). He retired around 1774. Specialised in clocks, especially porcelain clocks, he also used bronze cases from Osmond. The Duchess of Bedford, then Ambassador of England, bought two gilt clocks from him around 1762 and 1763, she then placed them in London and Woburnabbey on her return in 1763. Tardy Dictionnaire des horlogers français, Paris, 1972; Jean-Dominique Augarde Les Ouvriers du Temps, La Pendule à Paris de Louis XIV à Napoléon Ier, Genève 1996. Lisbon, Musea Nacional de Arte Antigua. € 14500.-Read more
- Fixed price
- 12 300 GBP
Exceptional carved walnut wall clock by Charles-François Rossigneux, Paris, circa 1870. The clock dial in waxed and polished walnut, with gothic-style Roman hour chapters painted in white, chased gilt-brass hands; the case, in the form of a heraldic crest resting on a small gadrooned base finished with an acanthus leaf motif; the whole entirely decorated with Neo-Renaissance motifs loosely inspired from Antiquity, flanked on either side by two inverted winged-dragons with reptile-like tails coiled around a chimera mascaron placed in the centre; above, branches of laurel leaves and a horn-shaped vase filled with a pomegranate bouquet surmount the clock. Self-starting movement with horizontal balance wheel, autonomy eight days. Impressive in scale, this clock case is a real tour de force of wood carving, superimposing a proliferation of ornaments that blends naturalistic plant forms with an imaginary universe composed of hybrid creatures and a grotesque mascaron. Graceful yet spirited, with outlandish and powerful accents, its design recalls the decorative vocabulary of the architect and designer Charles-François Rossigneux. This becomes evident when comparing its lines and motifs to a certain number of his original drawings housed at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, in which we see the same motifs: some imaginary, like the open-mouthed dragons, terrifying chimera mascarons and the form of the central crest with emerging serpent-tails; some taken from plant forms, like the clusters of fruit sprays; others inspired from ornamental book illustrations, with compartments and arabesques, for which Rossigneux was well-known. It is precisely in Rossigneux’s hand-drawn illustrations, depicting vignettes, foliage scrolls, tailpieces and ornamental lettering destined for fine-edition publications, that we discovered the source of inspiration for the present clock, notably in the magnificent folio of the Gospels (Les Saints Evangiles) published by Hachette in 1873 (fig.1-2-3): printed in two volumes, the set contains 128 large etchings after original drawings by Alexandre Bida, and 290 steel engravings featuring decorative titles, chapter heads, tailpieces and initials by L. Gaucherel after drawings by Ch. Rossigneux. H 147 cm (58"), W 102 cm (40"), D 26 cm (10"), (Paris, 1818 – 1907). A prolific artist, Rossigneux also designed fine-edition bindings and contributed, from 1860 to 1875, to the major decorating and furnishing projects in Paris. His practice was to supply a highly finished drawing to a sculptor, who, under his direction and close supervision, created a full-scale relief model that would then be reproduced in wood or precious metal. Rossigneux began his career working for the Gruel bookbinding firm, where he was in charge of designing bindings, endeavouring to introduce new elements inspired from nature. His early designs, noted at the 1844 Exposition des produits de l’industrie (French Industrial Exhibition) in Paris, enabled him to go to Cairo, chosen to decorate the apartments of the ‘Abbas’s palace, which the viceroy of Egypt ‘Abbas Pasha had just finished building. He spent three years in the Orient, from 1848-1851, and became friends with the painters Alexandre Bida and Maxime du Camp. While on mission in Egypt, he was able to develop relationships with the most prominent furniture and decorative-arts firms in France, which, upon his return, kept him occupied with important construction and decorating projects. In 1855, Rossigneux was appointed architect and assistant curator at the Exposition universelle (World Fair) in Paris. In the same year he established a privileged working relationship with Christofle, winning a silver medal for a silver cup made after his designs, and undertaking a project for a centrepiece with three winged infants for the Empress’ personal dining table. As of 1860, he worked under the direction of the architect Alfred Normand for several years, decorating Prince Napoleon’s Pompeii-style home, notably designing lamps and large candelabra, as well as bronze work for the Atrium doors. While he was creating designs for silver, Rossigneux was asked, in 1862, to take over as creative director of MM. Hache et Pepin-Lehalleur, the porcelain manufacture located in Vierzon – a collaboration that lasted until 1870. His influence was no less important at the Manufacture des Gobelins, where for over twenty years he acted as member of the Commission de perfectionnement (Committee for advancement). In 1868, the critic Edmond About described him in these terms: ‘M. Charles Rossigneux, an architect of all stripes, constructs homes, decorates apartments, designs furniture, sketches stained-glass windows, and has tableware, crystal, silverware and even Madame’s jewellery, made after his designs […].’ The following pieces date from the most active period of his career, lasting from 1860 to 1875: a Pompeii-style centrepiece for Prince Napoleon (now lost), a Neo-Grec tea service (exhibited in 1867), an ebony jewellery cabinet with inlay and enamel work (1873), a complete silverware service with the Nemean Lion hide as its principal ornamental motif (exhibited in 1875), a salon table with a gold and silver-inlaid top for Mme de Païva’s hôtel particulier on the Champs-Elysées, bronze work for M. Fouret’s private mansion, and marble vases with bronze mounts and Louis XIV chandeliers for M. Armand Templier. While working simultaneously on these numerous pieces, Rossigneux also designed fine jewellery for the goldsmiths Froment-Meurice; designed furniture for Count Henkel von Donnersmark’s castle in the province of Silesia (1887); and lastly, decorated the entire Hachette family’s hôtel particulier, where everything including chandeliers, torchères and bronze mounts were executed after his designs. The striking similarities between the present clock and the designs for the initials and tailpieces for the 1873 edition of Les Evangiles, leads us to believe that the present clock, exceptional in every respect, could have originated from the prestigious Hachette decorative ensemble now lost. Rossigneux, like Feuchère, Vechte and Klagmann, belonged to the same prestigious school, one that has earned a unique place in the decorative arts of the nineteenth century. During an exhibition of Rossigneux’s work at the Pavillon de Marsan (formerly part of the Tuileries Palace), F. de Ribes-Christofle liked to highlight the effects of his style, of which ‘the characteristic lies in the harmony of his compositional variety, the coherence of his design, and, above all, in the distinctive elegance that acts like a hallmark.’ A multi-talented artist, Rossigneux can be counted, along with Constant-Sevin and the furniture designer Fourdinois, as one of the most prominent representatives of the French decorative arts. Countless designs left his workshop to guide the hands of sculptors and goldsmiths who brought to life splendid bindings, tapestries, jewellery, delicate ceramic work, and furniture made for the sole purpose of obtaining prestigious prizes at the World’s Fairs. Bulletin Bibliographique, Gazette des Beaux Arts, 1873, 2e période, p. 564; Léon Deshairs, Charles Rossigneux, architecte décorateur (1818-1907), Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 1908; Jules Guiffrey, Charles-François Rossigneux, architecte et dessinateur (1818-1907), s.n. 1908; M. de Ribes-Christofle, Notice nécrologique sur M. Ch. Rossigneux, Société d’encouragement pour l’industrie nationale, Paris, Extrait du Bulletin de Mars 1908. Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, On requestRead more
French Empire-period ormolu sculptural mantel clock, circa 1805. Enamel dial signed Boulon à Bourg, with Roman numerals, Gilt pierced hands, countwheel bell striking anchor movement with silk suspended pendulum, ormolu case in the shaped of a classical daybed surmounted by a elegant lady reading a book, rectangular plinth with acanthus moulding raised on turned feet. H. 34 cm (13.3’) W. 34cm (13.3’) D. 14cm (5.5’), € 8500.-Read more
- Fixed price
- 7 200 GBP
Mahogany wall timepiece, George III period, circa 1790 signed Fowle & Son, East Grinstead. Large silvered dial with Roman numerals bearing the signature, two blued steel spade hands. Mahogany salt box case, cast brass bezel and access clipped doors on the right hand side and below. Lozenge movement plates, knopped pillars, single gutline fusee, anchor recoil escapement, steel suspension and pendulum with locking dock (a rare feature in this type of clock). Autonomy 8 days. Ø 16 ½” (42cm), H 21 ½” (56cm), D 6” (16cm), born 1732, established in East Grinstead (Sussex) 1783-95, son of Richard Fowle of Uckfield (Sussex). Repair signature "J Fowle 1820" on the front plate, probably the son of the maker, established in Sevenoaks from 1802. Brian Loomes, Watchmakers and Clockmakers of the World, NAG Press, 1984. € 7500.-Read more
- Fixed price
- 6 300 GBP
A Monumental Napoleon III Mantel Clock, “Offering to Cupid” after Louis-Simon Boizot, circa 1865. Chased and gilded bronze, Sèvres biscuit porcelain figure group, grey (bleu turquin) and white Carrara marble, signed on the dial: E. Hoydebine à Paris. bleu turquin, E. Hoydebine à Paris. Paris-style, Paris-style movement, after an ébauche by Vincenti et Cie, with a Swiss-style platform escapement and a coutwheel strike for the hours and half hours, on a silvered bell. Autonomy 8 days. Very fine white, black, navy blue and gold polychrome dial; Roman hour numerals with the addition of the twelve signs of the zodiac. Signed E. Hoydebine à Paris. Chased gilt-brass hour and minute hands. ébauche, E. Hoydebine à Paris. In the form of a semi-circular temple, this monumental clock features in its centre a Sèvres biscuit porcelain group depicting Cupid perched on an altar holding a torch, surrounded by two young women draped in classical attire. Another winged cherub sits behind the altar. Sèvres, The temple is composed of six Corinthian marble and gilt-bronze columns supporting a terrace embellished with a balustrade spaced evenly on either side of the central dial, the whole surmounted by a gilt-bronze cherub holding a torch in his right hand and a crown of flowers in his left. Two flaming urns supporting a flower garland decorate each corner. The gray marble plinth, on ten toupee feet, is cast with a frieze decorated with joyful winged cherubs straddling clouds and surmounted with a stepped white marble terrace, each step highlighted with a string of gilt-bronze pearls. This Napoleon III mantel clock embodies the Second Empire’s taste for the arts of the eighteenth century. Empress Eugenie’s passion for Marie-Antoinette and the Age of Enlightenment is well known, and her interest spurred the commission, among others, of the re-edition of numerous pieces of Sèvres biscuit porcelain that served to bring it back into fashion. The central group here – a re-edition of a model in biscuit porcelain made after Louis-Simon Boizot’s sculpture L’Offrande à l’Amour (Offering to Cupid) – reflects the fashion of a period that revived, in its boundless quest for luxury, all of antiquity’s refinement and grace. Originally, L’Offrande à l’Amour, along with its pendant, L’Offrande à l’Hymen, was part of a three-piece ornamental centrepiece in hard-paste biscuit porcelain created in 1776 at the Sèvres porcelain manufactory by Boizot, sculptor to the King and director of the sculpture studio at Sèvres (model by Josse-François-Joseph Le Riche) (Fig. 1 and 2). Louis XVI purchased the complete centrepiece in 1778. Especially admired were the groups’ sequence of lively attitudes, the quality of the modelling and attention to detail, as well as the accomplished contrast between the very elaborate drapery and the smoothness of the figures’ bodies. L’Offrande à l’Amour, L’Offrande à l’Amour, L’Offrande à l’Hymen, In the same spirit of historicism, the temple’s semi-circular colonnade recalls the splendour of Versailles and seems to be directly inspired from the Temple de l’Amour (Temple of Cupid), built by Richard Mique in 1777-78 – a view of which Marie-Antoinette may have contemplated from her bedchamber window at the Petit Trianon. This clock’s monumental proportions and eclectic style reflect perfectly what characterized so much of the decorative arts during the Second Empire; a style that paid homage to the eighteenth century in borrowing its forms and motifs from the arts and architecture of the reign of Louis XVI. Temple de l’Amour, H. 88 cm (34 1/2") W. 59 cm (23") D. 37 cm (14 1/2"), Hoydebine à ParisRead more
Carriage Clock with Simulated-Bamboo Case signed Enrique Manberger Madrid, mid- to late 19th Century. The movement with maltese crosses on both winders and alarum, for better timekeeping, English-style crabtooth-escapement platform with cut bi-metallic balance wheel and gold adjusting screws. Hourly and half-hourly gong strike with repeat feature by a button on top of the case. Alarum striking the same gong. Eight-days autonomy. Hexagonal dials, with nickelled and gilded ‘bamboo’ borders, on a silvered and gilt-brass ground reminiscent of ivory. Porcelain dials with Arabic numerals, each within a finely crafted cartouche. Arbalète or ‘crossbow’ blued-steel hands indicating the hours, minutes and the alarm on the subsidiary dial. Signature Enrique Manberger MADRID (clockmaker/retailer); produced in France. The case, with bevelled glass on five sides allows view of entire movement, assembled with intersecting ‘bamboo poles’, gilded and nickelled for a nice contrast-enhancing effect. Original leather storage box; original double-ended winding key. Height with handle upright: 19.5 cm (7 ½ in); Width: 10 cm (3 7/8 in); Depth: 9 cm (3 ½ in). LP is the signature of Paris-based clockmaker Louis-Auguste Pointeaux (1809-1885). He invented a coup perdu escapement that was used on mantel clocks with half-seconds beating pendulums, and some very sophisticated travelling clocks with up to 12 winding holes (!). He exhibited in London in 1852. He created the large longcase clock, presently at rue de Rivoli in Paris, for the firm C. Detouche. He was established at Rue Chérubini from 1850 to 1880. coup perdu, Tardy, Dictionnaire des horlogers français, (Paris, 1972); Derek Roberts, Carriage and Other Travelling Clocks, (Shiffer, Atglen, 1993). € 6500.-Read more
- Fixed price
- 5 500 GBP
Small table clock from the Louis XV period, circa 1760, signed J.D. Cornellis à Paris. Single barrel movement with pull-repeat on the right side for quarter-strike on three bells situated under the hood above. Verge escapement and silk suspension, with a high count escape wheel. Engraved signature Cornellis A Paris on the backplate, with star stylized punctuation. Autonomy two weeks. Cornellis A Paris, Single piece enamel dial, with blue Roman numerals for the hours and Arabic numerals for the 5 minutes. Finely cut, engraved and gilt brass hands. Blue-backed horn veneer case with exceptional quality scroll bronzework applied, and a Chinaman with his umbrella sitting on top. H. 44 cm, W. 22 cm, D. 13 cm - H. (17’’), W. ( 8 ½’’), D. ( 5’’). € 14500.-Read more
- Fixed price
- 12 300 GBP
Precision wall regulator, masterpiece from Richard VOLKAERTS in 1920, Brussels Professional School of Precision Mechanics and Electricity. Extremely robust construction movement with thick plates and four large pillars screwed on both sides, all the wheels with high count pinions, Graham escapement, steel suspension with double blade, powered by a single weight with pulley offset through the top inside right of the case allowing for a fifteen-day autonomy. Steel rod pendulum with micrometric crutch adjustment, graduated adjustment on the cylindrical bob, with lead mass freely resting on the bottom giving temperature compensation by this simple means. Original crank key. The plates and the cylinder wheel nicely machined patterned. Large silvered dial with Roman numerals for the hours, bearing the signature ECOLE PROFelle DE MÉCANIQUE DE PRÉCISION ET D'ELECTRICITÉ DE BRUXELLES, RICHARD VOLKAERTS 1920. Three blued steel hands, with center sweeping seconds hand. Very solidly and finely made oak case, with heavy bevelled glass on the three sides, with protruding lozenge mouldings on top and spandrel mouldings on both top sides of the dial. The whole assembly is held by two solid hooks on top. Left-side closing door with key. The Brussels Professional School of Precision Mechanics and Electricity, that was to become later the Arts and Crafts School of Brussels, held the reputation of being one of the finest clock-making school in the World in the 20th Century years preceding the Second World War. As an end of school project, the students had to entirely manufacture a precision regulator of a given design. They were left with some liberties for some of the execution details, and these finished works were to become their masterpiece, that were to stay with them for the rest of their career, so as to demonstrate their skill, but also to regulate all the other time instruments that they would work on. The case was also manufactured by student cabinetmakers from the same prestigious school, allowing them to demonstrate their best assembly skills. 'The case is made from quarter-sawn oak, showing extensive medullary rays typical for wood cut in this manner. For those that don’t recognize the term, Medullary rays are the tree’s nutrient “transport lines”, extending from the air pores in the bark to the center, or core of the tree. They are the often wavy patterns one sees in quarter-sawn oak that usually run nearly perpendicular to the grain of the wood. The advantage of quarter-sawn lumber is its enhanced stability - it does not warp, twist or shrink and expand as much as lumber that is cut in a more conventional manner. And, the medullary rays add a beautiful counterpoint to the very plain grain of typical oak.", Dimensions: Height 5' 11" (180cm), Width 1' 7" (48cm), Depth 10 1/4" (26cm), € 14000.-Read more
- Fixed price
- 11 800 GBP
French Empire-period clock, circa 1810, "The Cup-and-Ball Lesson". Black marble and ormolu of exquisite qality, signed Dautel, Rue de Thionville à Paris. The charming scene representing a young woman sitting on an armchair with winged sphynges armrests, flanked by her cat and dog, explaining the intricacies of the game to a young boy perched on a stool and cushion. Fine enamel dial with Roman numerals and Arabic quarter markers, blued steel Breguet hands. 8-day duration movement with anchor recoil escapement and silk suspended pendulum, countwheel strike on a silvered bell. H. 39 cm (15.3 in), € 12000.-Read more
- Fixed price
- 10 200 GBP
Jean Eugène ROBERT-HOUDIN, “Triple Mystery” Clock, Paris, circa 1850. Crystal, patinated and gilded bronze. Signed on the dial: Robert-Houdin/Paris. The circular dial, made from three clear glass plates of near-identical size, indicates the hours in Roman numerals and the minutes with precision indicators, with two arrow-shaped gilt-brass hands. The hours and signature are painted on the back of the first glass plate; the second glass plate contains the motion work in its center and moves with the hour hand, the third glass plate is the rear support of the assembly. The whole dial is contained by a gilt-brass surround that sits in a chased gilt-bronze mount supported by a crystal column terminating in three patinated-bronze griffins on a shallow ebony-simulated terrace decorated to end in gilt-bronze scrolls and grotesque motifs. Like the dial with multiple glass plates, the crystal column is actually made of two separate crystal tubes, the inner one being fitted with rotating wheels at both ends. A long rod with an endless screw is the link between the glass inner column and the removing middle dial, it is hidden within one of the decorative dial supports. Another such long rod with lantern pinions on both sides is hidden within one of the three griffins, and acts as the link between the movement and the crystal column. The movement, unable to be contained inside the base, is concealed within the circular black-lacquered pedestal bordered with fine brass fillets, the top covered in crimson velvet. It is made of two separate trains (one for the strike and the other for the time) with all wheels placed in a linear fashion so as two place them all in a narrow space. The movement ends with a platform escapement in a line, with Swiss-type escape wheel, and cut bi-metallic balance wheel. The strike is every hour and half hour on a coiled gong attached in the base and controlled by a countwheel. The movement is stamped E. Robert-Houdin and numbered 3857 on the winding side. The same very long brass key is used for winding and setting the hands through 3 holes at the rear of the base. Height 57 cm (22 ½ "), Diameter of dial: 12 cm (4 ½ "), Diameter of base: 26 cm (10 ¼ "). (Blois, 1805 – Saint-Gervais, 1871) Horologist, illusionist, stage artist. ‘I am inclined to believe’, noting in his biography “Confidences”, that I came into the world with a file, a compass or a hammer in my hand, for from my earliest youth, these instruments were my rattles, my toys; I seemed to use them as other children learned to walk and talk.’, All his life, Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin was ruled by his passion, or mania, to invent and perfect, never ceasing to surprise and fascinate; his scientific and technical innovations as well as his remarkable talent as a magician secured his place in history. The son of horologist Prosper Robert, Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin was born in Blois on 7 December 1805. Established as an horologist in Paris around 1835, Jean Eugène began his training in his father’s workshop. Although Prosper Robert insisted that his son pursue a legal career, Jean Eugène preferred the domain of horology and began an apprenticeship under his cousin Jean Martin Robert, reputed to be the most skilful horologist in town. Blois, home to the kings of France since the Renaissance, was one of the major horological centres at the time – in 1700, there were no fewer than 200 clockmakers working there. It was also here, in his hometown, that Jean Eugène Robert met his future wife, Josépha Eglantine Houdin, daughter of the well-established Blois horologist, Jacques Houdin, a monumental clockmaker who was summoned to Paris in 1820 to work for Bréguet. In late 1829, Jean Eugène Robert began working for his future father-in-law as a clock dealer, and on 8 July 1830 married his daughter whose surname became inseparable from his own, hyphenating it from then on as Robert-Houdin; it was officially recognised by Prince-President Louis-Philippe in 1852. Shortly after his marriage, Robert-Houdin established himself in Paris where he became known for the construction of ingenious automata and machines of his own invention. He first settled at 63, rue du Temple, repairing clocks and watches. Nevertheless he continued to invent, creating a cabinet of curiosities where he would produce a series of completely new mechanical devices that were marvels of ingenuity. He was awarded numerous prizes and medals throughout his lifetime, including first-class bronze, silver and gold medals at the 1839, 1844, 1855 and 1859 French Industry and Universal Exhibitions. Among his first inventions was the alarm-lighter clock for which he filed a five-year patent on 20 September 1837 for ‘an alarm clock whose function was to have light upon waking.’ It was activated by a watch movement with verge escapement, which released a small candle at the chosen hour — the tip of which, filled with a substance similar to that of German matches, was lit through friction. The success was such that it proved to be a financial boon to Robert-Houdin for many years to come. This commercial success allowed him to move to 13 rue Vendôme, hire employees and devote himself to the construction of automata, among which were ‘The Player with the Beaker’, ‘The Dancer on a Cord’, ‘The Singing Birds’ and the creation of his first masterpiece of horology: the mystery clock. The latter, as we have seen, was the horological expression of his talent as illusionist and became an object of curiosity, highly sought after by amateurs and collectors alike. After this fruitful period, Robert Houdin devoted even more time to creating automata. At the Universal Exhibition of 1844, he exhibited on a circular platform his timepieces and other mechanical devices such as the ‘Writer-Drawer’, which King Louis-Philippe himself admired, and was finally sold for $4000 to the famous American showman, P. T. Barnum. Once again, the Central Jury confirmed his success, awarding him a silver medal for all his inventions. He continued to invent, the list of which includes innovative devices like the electric distributer, electric regulator clock, a mechanism to detect leaks on ships, an electric plastron for fencers, a speedometer for automobiles…. without forgetting his famous “magic clock” invented in 1845, a true masterpiece, which he demonstrated as a stage act. Like the mystery clock, the magic clock’s hands moved without any apparent connection with the driving mechanism; two separate cords suspended the glass dial and bell, which, with a wave of Robert-Houdin’s magic wand, would obey the various orders and commands stunned spectators might suggest . In addition to his talent as inventor, Robert-Houdin had a charismatic personality that enabled him to perform on stage and captivate his audience easily. Theatre lover, illusionist and actor at heart, he opened his own conjuring theatre at 14 Galerie de Valois at the Palais Royal in Paris. On 3 July 1845, Robert-Houdin premiered the first of his four “Soirées Fantastiques” where he paraded a host of mechanical marvels that would respond to his voice, obeying the commands that spectators would suggest. For numerous years he triumphed before his public, earning a reputation worldwide. His fame was such that in 1848 he travelled to London to perform at the St. James’s Theatre, and also before Queen Victoria, who extended a personal invitation to have the magician perform at Buckingham Palace! In 1855, Robert-Houdin and the Maison Destouche exhibited together at the Universal Exhibition, where they were awarded a First Class Medal for seven inventions: an electric regulator clock, a mantel clock, several large bell-tower dials, a mechanism to turn electric current on during the day and off at night, a new electric SMEE battery, an electric distributer (precursor of the electro-magnetic motor) and a new device to transfer electric current. To this endless list, we can add that Robert-Houdin was one of the pioneers of the electric clock, for which he filed a patent in 1855. Tardy, Dictionnaire des Horlogers Français, Paris 1971; Polichinelle, Jan-Oct 1983, pp. 40-48; Francis Maitzner, Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, Horloger, mécanicien, prestidigitateur “L’histoire de sa vie,” Bulletin ANCAHA, no. 58, été 1990, pp. 5-17; Richard Chavigny, Jean Robert-Houdin Horloger, Bulletin ANCAHA, no. 58, été 1990, pp. 19-28; J.C. Gendrot La pendule mystérieuse de Robert-Houdin Bulletin ANCAHA N° 58, été 1990, pp. 29-37; Paul Réal, Restauration d’une pendule à trois mystères signée E. Robert-Houdin, Bulletin ANCAHA, printemps 1998, pp. 39-44; Derek Roberts, Mystery, Novelty & Fantasy Clocks, Shiffer Publishing, USA, 1998. Dictionnaire des Horlogers Français, Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, Horloger, mécanicien, prestidigitateur “L’histoire de sa vie,”, , Jean Robert-Houdin Horloger, La pendule mystérieuse de Robert-Houdin, Restauration d’une pendule à trois mystères, signée E. Robert-Houdin, Mystery, Novelty & Fantasy Clocks, Musée de la Magie, Blois; Musée Paul Dupuy, Toulouse, On requestRead more
19th century floorstanding mahogany regulator, circa 1840, with unusual tri-coloured dial and Ritchie's compensation to the pendulum, signed Hurt & Wray, Birmingham. Gothic-inspired case with lancet top over brass inlays of quatrefoils over a lancet topped glazed trunk door to a panel base to a plinth and bracket feet. 12" circular silvered dial with concentric minute hand and red digits, enclosing subsidiaries for running seconds (in green) and Roman hours (in yellow), signed in red upper case lettering across the dial centre, the weight driven movement with substantial shouldered plates united by five cannon-barrel pillars, with maintaining power and high-count pinions, endstones on both sides of every arbor, the deadbeat escapement with jewelled pallets and long crutch to a pendulum with steel rod split by two horizontal bi-metallic bars and central spring section screwed to the main rod and also the lozenge section to take the weight of the large heavy brass-faced bob and graduated rating nut, the small brass weight suspended on a caged pulley. Weekly winding with original winding key, precision with an error of less than 10 seconds a month. Height 206cm (6' 11"), Derek Roberts "Precision Pendulum Clocks - The Quest for Accurate Timekeeping", page 96-97 Ritchie's Compensated Pendulum, € 20000.-Read more
- Fixed price
- 16 900 GBP
Small and unusual capucine, circa 1830, with time and strike, very likely a masterpiece. Movement with dual purpose (time and strike) single barrel of long duration (20 days) and extremely unusual very small countwheel for the strike, signed Pierre Dechevrand à Valenciennes. Small enamel dial with arabic numerals and blued steel hands. Well-designed case with machined decorations all round, silvered bell on top. Pierre Dechevrand à Valenciennes, Height, with handle upright: 26cm (10 ½"), € 6500.-Read more
- Fixed price
- 5 500 GBP
Thomas Pratt, Canterbury, Bracket Clock with precision deadbeat escapement, signed Thomas Pratt, Canterbury, circa 1810. Movement with two fusees and chain transmission, Graham-type precision deadbeat escapement, spring suspended pendulum with Harrison-type compensation made of 5 rods of brass and steel, adjustment under the bob. Hourly rack strike on a bronze bell above, with pull-repeat on the right hand side and strike suppressor above the dial. Finely engraved rear plate bearing the signature of Thomas Pratt, Canterbury. Autonomy 8 days. Similarly signed silvered brass dial with Roman numerals for the hours. Strike suppressor lever (STRIKE – SILENT) above the numeral XII. Subsidiary dial for the seconds below the numeral XII. Finely cut blued steel hands, for the hours, minutes and seconds. Oak case with ebonized peartree veneer with varnished applied bronze lining and accessories. Side panels finely cut in the fish scales fashion, with silk back lining, allowing for the sound to go through while keeping the dust outside. Four ormolu ball feet, two ormolu side handles. Height 43 cm (17”), W. 28 cm (11”), D. 17 cm (7”), Thomas Pratt is recorded as active around 1800, and a maker of travelling clocks, among others. G.H. Baillie, Watchmakers and Clockmakers of the World, 1925, Watchmakers and Clockmakers of the WorldRead more
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