18th Century English Automaton Pagoda Clock sold for $998,250
This exceptional 18th Century English Automaton Pagoda Clock for Chinese Qing Imperial Court fell just shy of the $1 million mark when it sold for $998,250 at Fontaine’s Auction Gallery in Pittsfield Massachusetts
Extremely Rare 18th Century English Pagoda Automaton Musical Clock For Chinese Qing Imperial Court. Magnificent English made bronze pagoda form automaton table clock, sits on a large black wood base with an engraved chessboard pattern brass top. 5 in. painted metal dials on the front and both sides with Roman hour numerals; 8 day double fusee chain movement, quarter striking on 2 bells and drives 3 dials including sweep seconds on the front dial.
The time movement triggers the automaton mechanism once every 2 hours. The heavy bronze case has elegant color paste set jewels around the bezel and at the floral corner spandrels; each side of the upper tiers is gold gilded with silver doorways, pearl studded roof tops with hanging corner bells, the case form is based from the “Porcelain Tower (Pagoda) of Nanjing, which was constructed in the 15th Century.
The large and powerful double fusee chain automaton movement is responsible for both raising and lowering the pagoda tower in a controlled manner as well as playing 2 different tunes on a nest of 8 bells, including Chinese folk song, Mo Li Hua, which has been popular since before the18th century in both China and abroad. The pagoda animates every 2 hours, corresponding to the 12 hour Chinese zodiac time system as well as the music, which also plays every 2 hours accompanying the automation of the pagoda. 50 in. high (raised), 41 in. high (lowered), x 18.75 in. wide x 18.75 in. deep. Weight: 100 lbs.
Provenance of the Automaton Pagoda Clock, Condition, Literature: Clock is from an estate in New York, all functions of the time and automaton mechanisms are in proper working order, this Pagoda Clock had been sitting in a basement for decades and after its discovery, both of its movements and most part of the case were cleaned; some restoration has been done to the bronze case, however a couple missing pearls couldn’t be replaced and the 3 dials and glasses as well as wooden base were recently replaced. A similar clock was exhibited at the Art Museum of Macaw, Moments of Eternity, 2004 and can be referenced in “Timepieces in The Imperial Palace, Classics of The Forbidden City, Forbidden City Publishing House, 2008, Page 97”.
The Porcelain Pagoda of Nanjing, also known as Temple of Repaid Gratitude, built in the 15th century during the Chinese Ming dynasty. It was mostly destroyed in the 19th century during the Taiping Rebellion. The first westerner who visited it was Johan Nieuhof, shortly after the construction of the pagoda. Sometimes it’s listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It was one of the largest buildings in China at the time, with its nine stories and a staircase in the middle of the pagoda. The top of the roof was marked by a golden pineapple.
The pagoda was covered with white porcelain bricks to reflect the sunlight during the day, and at night, lamps were lit inside to illuminate the tower. Folk Song, Mo Li Hua, or Jasmine Flower, was created during the Qianlong period, popular in Chinese urban areas. In 1804 a British diplomat, John Barrow, noted that the tune seems to be one of the most popular songs in China. It’s also the first song that became folk song that is widely known outside China.
It even became a temporary national anthem by the Qing officials in Europe. Please Note: In order to bid on this Automaton Pagoda Clock either live or absentee, you must contact Fontaine’s Auction Gallery to be approved. This is a separate process from being approved to bid on the other items in the auction. No bids will be accepted on this item without going through this process.
Estimated: $800,000 – $1,200,000
The auction was held in Fontaines gallery, at 1485 West Housatonic Ave., in Pittsfield, Mass.
The 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 Fontaine’s Auction Gallery’s Antiques and Fine Art Auction, held January 21st in the firms gallery at 1485 West Housatonic Street.
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Chinese Qing Imperial Court, fell just shy of the $1 million mark when it sold for $998,250
A featured item in our January 21, 2017 Auction.
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