Skinner, Inc. is pleased to present an auction of Clocks, Watches & Scientific Instruments on Friday, April 28 at 10AM in Marlborough, MA. Robert Cheney, Director of Clocks, comments that the nearly 400 lots in this auction are widely varied, and include great rarities for the specialist connoisseur, fine clocks from America and Europe, intriguing musical novelties, and affordable microscopes and telescopes.
Numerous highlights of this auction are from the Wing Collection, started in the 1920s by Henry Wing of Greenfield, Massachusetts and expanded by his son Donald. Wing family members were innovative specialty manufacturers with a passion for anything mechanical, collecting machinery both large (tractors and cars) and small (watches and chronometers).
Outstanding lots from the Wing Collection include two machines by Holtzapffel of London, which Cheney notes are likely the rarest pieces offered. These specialized lathes can perform turning operations on prized materials such as precious metals, ivory, and exotic woods. The resulting intricate patterns embellished luxury goods such as watch cases and a variety of objets de vertu.
♦ Holtzapffel Rose Engine, 1816 (Lot 52, Estimated between $60,000-80,000)
♦ Holtzapffel Ornamental Turning Lathe, 1868 (Lot 53, $20,000-30,000)
Henry Wing’s watch collecting brought him to the genius of Charles Fasoldt of Albany New York. By the mid 19th century, Fasoldt was producing watches, clocks and chronometers of exceptional quality and mechanical sophistication. The Wings acquired the largest known collection of Fasoldt timekeepers. Two important examples are offered in this auction:
♦ Observatory Time Fasoldt Patent Inverted Dial Regulator, utilizing his rare “dual escape wheel” design. (Lot 70, $60,000-80,000)
♦ Fasoldt regulator with a “single arm gravity escapement.” (Lot 71, $20,000-40,000)
From imposing tall clocks to American classic shelf clocks to Japanese shaku dokei (pillar clocks), timekeepers in dazzling, dizzying variety abound in this auction. Highlights include:
♦ J. J. Elliott Monumental Carved Mahogany Quarter-chiming Hall Clock, c. 1900. At 116 inches, this truly monumental timepiece originally purchased at Tiffany’s is said to have once been owned by John Jacob Astor IV. (Lot 89, $40,000-60,000)
♦ J. Gooding 8-day Mahogany Tall Clock, Massachusetts, circa 1795-1800. (Lot 94, $10,000-15,000)
♦ Miniature Porcelain Carriage Clock, Paris. The brass faux bamboo case and panels with Asian decorative motifs are highly decorative and unusually colorful. (Lot 209, $2,000-3,000)
The wearable timepieces in this auction range from men’s pocket watches and wrist chronographs to delicate ladies’ lapel watches. All testify to the elegant functionality and engineering skill that characterized time-keeping devices in the era before smart phones. Among the many distinctive—and very affordable—offerings are:
♦ Platinum and Diamond Lady’s Pendant Watch, silver-tone arabic numeral dial with engine-turned center, stem-wind, stem-set movement, Leschot, France, J. Bloch, in an unmarked platinum case with diamonds, with a matching brooch, (Lot 190, $1,200-1,500)
♦ Men’s 18kt Gold Chronograph Wristwatch, Switzerland, copper-tone dial marked Baume & Mercier, Geneve, 17-jewel manual-wind movement, gold case, with a Cobra leather strap, (Lot 197, $600-800)
Sheer ingenuity distinguishes a number of pieces in this auction. Musical mechanisms are well represented, with over two dozen musical boxes alone. The most elaborate is Lot 433, Grand Format Piano Forte Musical Box by Nicole Frères, circa 1854, playing four opera overtures ($15,000-20,000).
Other examples of 19th and 20th century inventiveness both serious and playful include such disparate lots as:
♦ J.F. Houdin Animated Conjuror Clock, France, c. 1840, ormolu and patinated bronze. The timepiece is topped by a magician performing a cup and ball trick activated by the clock on the hour or manually by a lever (Lot 291, $35,000-45,000).
♦ Republic-47D Thunderbolt U-control Model Airplane by Ernest Berke, constructed 1956-65, 1/12th scale model, 43-inch wingspan. Nine years in construction, the model was made to the original aircraft’s blueprints and won first prize in the national competition for model aircraft in 1964 (Lot 414, $6,000-8,000).
Curious collectors, whether their primary interest is in the tools of scientific inquiry of the 19th century, or examples of its technology, design and fine workmanship, will find much to admire and acquire in this auction.
Previews, Catalogs, and Bidding
Auction previews are free and open to the public and held in Skinner’s Marlborough gallery, April 26, 12PM-7PM, April 27, 12PM-7PM, and April 28, 8AM-9:30AM.
Illustrated catalog 3003M is available from the Subscriptions Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or from the Gallery. Prices realized will be available online at www.skinnerinc.com during and after the sale. The Skinner website also enables users to view all lots in the auction, leave bids, order catalogs and bid live, in real-time through SkinnerLive!
Skinner auctions draw international interest from buyers and consignors alike, with material regularly achieving record prices. The company’s auction and appraisal services focus on fine art, jewelry, furniture, and decorative arts from around the globe, as well as wine, fine musical instruments, rare books, Asian art, clocks, Judaica, and more. Monthly Skinner Discovery auctions feature a breadth of estate material. Widely regarded as one of the most trusted names in the business, Skinner appraisers have appeared on the PBS-TV series, Antiques Roadshow, since the show’s inception. Skinner has galleries in Boston and Marlborough, Massachusetts, as well as in New York City and Miami, Florida, with bidders participating in person, by phone, and online. Join auctions live with SkinnerLive! and Bidsquare. For more information and to read our blog, visit the website at www.skinnerinc.com, find us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.