A small French skeleton clock

Discussion in 'General Clock Discussions' started by Jeremy Woodoff, Jul 26, 2020.

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  1. Jeremy Woodoff

    Jeremy Woodoff Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Jun 30, 2002
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    I think there might be interest in this unusual French "skeleton" clock. "Skeleton" is in quotes, as the plates aren't skeletonized, but the design of the clock gives it a skeleton-like appearance, allowing all its parts to be easily visible. I recently received it after buying it at an on-line auction. "Robin a Paris" is on the blue and white enamel dial and stamped on the back plate. This could be Jean-Joseph Robin, a well-known clockmaker who worked in Paris from 1790-1825, though he died in 1858. He was the son of the even more famous Robert Robin. Or it could be someone else entirely. The back plate also has the stamp of "Japy Freres, Medailles d'Or", with 6 years listed, between 1825-1849. Japy Freres clocks had a different later stamp, the "Medaille d'Honneur 1855," so I would date my clock from 1849-1855.

    The clock is 10" high including the dome. It appears to be 8-day or perhaps 15, and has an alarm train between the legs of the plates on the right side. The alarm bell is centered under the movement. The base is ebonized wood with a cutout to allow the sound of the alarm to be heard. The alarm is wound by pulling a cord that extends through the base, so it can be wound each day without removing the dome. The alarm time is set with the one of the wheels projecting from the back plate. It rotates an engraved, silvered disc visible in the dial center. It is turned so the tail of the hour hand points to the alarm time. The other wheel projecting from the back plate adjusts the length of the silk suspension to regulate timekeeping.

    The dome is old and hand blown (also a little asymmetrical) but I don't think it's original. It fits in the groove in the base, but instead of resting just outside the velvet-covered rope, it sits on top of it. Also I think the pendulum is replaced; the number doesn't match the number on the back plate of the movement, and two strips of brass were added to the pendulum block so it would fit the crutch. All else seems to be original. The clock and alarm work, but the brass should be polished.

    I've found only one other example of this model on line. It was sold at an auction in England in 2010 for 600 British pounds. The gallery stated the base was repainted, but I think the base and dome on that clock were replaced, as there is no cut-out for the alarm. The pendulum of that clock was not visible.

    My clock reminds me of the very similar but much more often seen "Great Exhibition" skeleton clock by Perrier. These clocks were supposedly sold by the thousands at the 1851 Great Exhibition at London's Crystal Palace. They came with or without alarms; when provided the alarm mechanism and bell are below the base and not visible. It seems the two clocks must have been in competition. The last picture below is of one of these Great Exhibition clocks.
    IMG_4476.JPG IMG_4465.JPG IMG_4464.JPG IMG_4466.JPG IMG_4463.JPG IMG_4469.JPG IMG_4471.JPG IMG_4468.JPG IMG_4475.JPG IMG_4474.JPG 2007_CSK_05156_1486_000().jpg
  2. new2clocks

    new2clocks Registered User
    NAWCC Member Sponsor

    Apr 25, 2005
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    Since the movement is marked Japy, I assume Robin is the finisher of the movement. Or, Robin could be a retailer, since the name is on the dial.

    Another possibility - the dial looks to be in pristine condition for a clock of that age. Is it possible that the dial was freshened and the person added the name Robin to the dial, assuming Robin was the retailer?

    In any event, that is a great acquisition!

  3. jmclaugh

    jmclaugh Registered User

    Jun 1, 2006
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    It is an interesting clock, there are quite a few with the name Robin listed, the most likely candidate looks to be Robin, Paris (Galeries du Lourve) 'Horologer du Roy' 1780s to circa 1900.

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