Published: April 11, 2023
Review by Z.G. Burnett, Photos Courtesy Fontaine’s Auction Gallery
PITTSFIELD, MASS. – Fontaine’s Auction Gallery conducted its American & European Timepieces sale on April 1, counting down 445 lots of antique clocks of all kinds. Each of the upper lots sold within or above its estimate, and the total of the sale added up to almost $1 million.
The top clock was a #67 astronomical regulator from E. Howard & Co from the late Nineteenth Century that was bid to $93,750 ($60/80,000). In very good overall condition, the functioning clock was enclosed in a walnut case with burl walnut details and a pediment crest that culminated in an elaborately carved bull’s head with original finish. The clock itself had an eight-day astronomical movement with deadbeat escapement and single jar mercurial pendulum. It sat in the boardroom of the American Tobacco Company’s New York City office for years, moved to the firm’s parent company in Connecticut and was then acquired by a board member, who consigned the clock to Fontaine’s.
Another E. Howard & Co #23 90-day regulator astronomical regulator clock followed its peer in price, realizing $56,250 ($40/60,000). This clock had a black walnut case , a 16-inch dial signed with the maker’s name, jeweled deadbeat escapement and dual outboard. This clock was also in functioning condition, with a rubbed down finish and a crack in the “neck.” Made in Boston, Mass., circa 1860, the clock was bought by a Montana bidder.
Two more regulators designated “Regulator No 19” made by Seth Thomas did well in the auction. Thomas was born in Wolcott, Conn., in 1785, later becoming a major player of the clockmaking industry in Plymouth, Conn. Made circa 1886, a wall clock for the Santa Fe Railway System sold for $27,500 ($12/16,000). The case retained its original finish but showed repainting on its glass lettering. Another example of the same model achieved $17,500 ($10/15,000), with refinishing but original lettering. Both came from the same from a Wichita, Kan., estate and were in functioning condition.
Personal timepieces were also popular with bidders. Third in the sale was a 22K gold pair-cased verge pocket watch from Thomas Tampion and Edward Banger, London, made circa 1706. The pocket watch’s wheels were intact, its movements functioned properly, the original box was retained and it was bid to $31,250 ($25/35,000). Even more flashy was a diamond and stainless steel Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust automatic wristwatch that sold above its $20/25,000 estimate to $26,250.
One of the clocks that doubled its low estimate in the auction was a “Cornell Model” floor clock from the Ithaca Calendar Clock Co, selling for $22,500 ($10/15,000). One of the rarest models from the company with only four other known examples extant, this clock was originally made for Cornell University. The other examples were found in government offices and private collections. The calendar advanced properly, and the clock retained its original finish, dials and pendulum. Only the second hands were replaced by expert technician Joel Warren of Ithaca Calendar Clocks.
Prices quoted with buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house. Fontaine’s next Fine & Decorative Arts sale will be on May 20. For information, www.fontainesauction.com or 413-448-8922.
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