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c1760-1780 Canton Bracket Clock

pdf180

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Dear All,

I am posting here pictures of my latest Mahogany bracket clock, prior to restoration. I date it to c1760-1780, made in Canton. I hope you will agree that it is a magical piece. Obviously, it has some things to do on it, besides an overhaul of the movement such as: new top handle, side glass, finials, replacing silk, but nothing too major. I especially like the sides and the painted dial backing depicting Europeans in an Oriental landscape. Lovely engraved back too. Will post pics of the very dirty movement later. Enjoy.
cant 1.jpg clock 3.jpg
 

pdf180

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The straight pillars, the fret brass work on the side frets, the painting which is very similar (undoubtedly same workshop) to a clock I saw a while ago, listed as c1750, Canton. But of course that attribution by an auctioneer might have been wrong. Also the hand(s).
 

novicetimekeeper

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I think they copied that idea too. The swiss were copying English watches to export to England. Earlier the English and Dutch were copying Chinese ceramics to sell throughout Europe, while the gentry were ordering their dinner services in China because they were cheaper than Staffordshire even if the lead time might be a year.

The joke is that now the Swiss complain about fakes.
 

Ralph

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I think these auctioneers are taking liberties with the dating of the Chinese clocks.

Ralph
 

zedric

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How interesting. Copying European manufactured goods and exporting them back to us is not a new thing then!
It seems that the Chinese got into clock making as a necessity, as they needed to repair and maintain the clocks being brought in as tributes to the Emperor. clockmaking was taught by the Jesuit missions. There are a few Chinese made bracket clocks in the Forbidden Palace exhibit in Beijing if you ever go there. The thing I remember most distinctly about them were the worm like signatures on the backplate - like someone was copying without understanding what they were copying.

I don’t think many, if any, of these were made for export.

As an aside, when I visited the Forbidden Palace exhibit, I had a student with me as a guide. He asked me if I had any clocks. I showed him some photos, and he asked how old they were. When I told him, he said he didn’t think Chinese culture had made it so successfully to the west in the 1700s..... He thought that the bracket clock was a Chinese style, and I had to point out the labels on the exhibits to explain that clockmaking came to China from the west...
 

rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

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How interesting. Copying European manufactured goods and exporting them back to us is not a new thing then!
I think they copied that idea too. The swiss were copying English watches to export to England. Earlier the English and Dutch were copying Chinese ceramics to sell throughout Europe, while the gentry were ordering their dinner services in China because they were cheaper than Staffordshire even if the lead time might be a year.

The joke is that now the Swiss complain about fakes.
I don't have anything specific to add with regards to the type of clocks that are being discussed here.

I would suspect that there might be characteristics of the movement suggesting if it is of Chinese origin. Some of the Chinese metals and alloys are different than those used in the West, too. Furthermore, the case woods might also reveal clues. There were certain primary and secondary woods characteristic of Chinese furniture that were not generally used in the West.

The discussion of this clock is actually but a small piece of a much larger and fascinating topic. Clocks possibly aside, it would ABSOLUTELY NOT be at all unusual for furniture, paintings, silver, etc in the Western style to be made in China during the 18th and 19th century and exported back to the West. For example, check this out:

Washington by Spoilum 2.PNG

If you said it must be American, you would be wrong. It's an oil painting made for the American market by the Chinese artist Spoilum based upon a British print based upon theTrumbull painting!! Ha!

See Carl Crossman's "The Decorative Arts of the China Trade" for much more about this.

Less expensive labor and production in China producing goods for export to the West is most certainly not a late 20th - early 21st century phenomenon. Neither is the tendency towards copying.

Also, Chinese decorative arts exerted quite an influence on Western Design. "Chinese" Chippendale?? Ever wonder where all those ball and claw feet came from? They started as dragons clutching pearls in their talons!

RM
 

pdf180

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Jun 18, 2009
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It is indeed the tip of the iceberg of a very interesting discourse concerning cross-cultural and intellectual exchange between East and West which spans everything from cultural deference to cultural nationalism - and is too often over simplified. I agree about the woods and alloys used being often different, and would add to that the finishes, the joint pegging on cases etc. I imagine differences in tools might also account for different construction techniques etc. Unfortunately, there appear to be so few of the type of clocks we are discussing - at least those accessible to be comparable - that drawing any firm conclusions is impossible. Dating, of course being one of the points at issue. My personal feeling, being based in Asia, is that imitative styles (for example this arch top bracket clock, the movement etc.) is often 20 or so years behind the stylistic trends. Thus, I do share some of Ralph's concerns about dating, but taken as a whole -which I think one must do- a late 18th century date is likely to be nearest the mark. I also second what Zedric says about the engraving on the back of Chinese bracket clocks, generally having a cartouche with some form of gibberish scrawled to mimic Western writing. The engraving also tens to have an different aesthetic flavour. The clock in this post, however, doesn't have that scrawl, and is much more aesthetically similar to European esp. English clocks of the period. So my interpretation of the clock, and that's what we are basically doing -giving informed interpretations- is very much tentative. I want to resolve the whole in the dial surround too.
 

Chris Radano

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A good example worthy of restoration. Some more thoughts regarding the dating of this clock:
The earliest English examples of this style case probably date to c. 1790. The style of this case didn't become widespread until after the turn of the 19th c. in England. To find a verge fusee movement in a break arch, or pad top, case would be far less common than the anchor movements used after 1800. So, the Chinese clock would almost certainly be 19th century.
Here's one of my clocks, anon. maker. Date? 1810-1820?

Anon. break arch case with bracket 001.JPG Anon. break arch case with bracket 002.JPG Anon. break arch case with bracket 004.JPG Anon. break arch case with bracket 005.JPG Anon. break arch case with bracket 006.JPG Anon. break arch case with bracket 007.JPG
 
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jmclaugh

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A very interesting clock especially what is missing in the arch that used the hole there. The back cock looks rather ill at ease with the back plate. If you google Chinese automaton bracket clock you'll be taken aback by what one sold for.

That's a nice one Chris.
 

zedric

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If you google Chinese automaton bracket clock you'll be taken aback by what one sold for.
A few of the fancy, jewelled ones have sold in recent years. In the same google search you’ll find a New York Times article questioning the authenticity of some of these..
 

Chris Radano

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I just glanced at Deryck Roberts' "The Bracket Clock" to check my dating. I found this style of shallow break arch case was completely ignored, but no doubt it was popular and still sought after today by collectors. I found that Roberts' dating is probably a bit off. The book is from 1982. Roberts dating I think we would find (in general) a bit too early from what we know today. My clock could date before 1810, but I think after this clock which is dated 1803:
Dating Thwaites movement serial numbers?

It seems that the Chinese got into clock making as a necessity, as they needed to repair and maintain the clocks being brought in as tributes to the Emperor. clockmaking was taught by the Jesuit missions. There are a few Chinese made bracket clocks in the Forbidden Palace exhibit in Beijing if you ever go there. The thing I remember most distinctly about them were the worm like signatures on the backplate - like someone was copying without understanding what they were copying.

I don’t think many, if any, of these were made for export.
It would make sense the clocks with the inaccurate script would stay in China, where the writing would less likely be questioned. Whereas an English speaking person would have no idea what the writing would mean, although the engraved script would have been imitating English. Does that make sense? So, the Chinese were faking to their own market.
https://mb.nawcc.org/threads/dating-thwaites-movement-serial-numbers.67059/
 

pdf180

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Jun 18, 2009
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A good example worthy of restoration. Some more thoughts regarding the dating of this clock:
The earliest English examples of this style case probably date to c. 1790. The style of this case didn't become widespread until after the turn of the 19th c. in England. To find a verge fusee movement in a break arch, or pad top, case would be far less common than the anchor movements used after 1800. So, the Chinese clock would almost certainly be 19th century.
Here's one of my clocks, anon. maker. Date? 1810-1820?

View attachment 550974 View attachment 550975 View attachment 550976 View attachment 550977 View attachment 550978 View attachment 550979
Thanks for that input. Certainly I agree with the dating of the English example you give. The arrangement of the sides, on the Chinese example, however, leads me to conclude last quarter of 18th century or around 1800 at the latest. The bob pendulum is also of some interest - not as straight forward as it looks - I'll post a picture of that later tonight. Also, a half pillar by which I mean semi-circular, to incorporate the main spring.
 

pdf180

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Jun 18, 2009
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I just glanced at Deryck Roberts' "The Bracket Clock" to check my dating. I found this style of shallow break arch case was completely ignored, but no doubt it was popular and still sought after today by collectors. I found that Roberts' dating is probably a bit off. The book is from 1982. Roberts dating I think we would find (in general) a bit too early from what we know today. My clock could date before 1810, but I think after this clock which is dated 1803:

Dating Thwaites movement serial numbers?

So what was Robert's dating for the style? I've seen agreeable example from early 1780s.


It would make sense the clocks with the inaccurate script would stay in China, where the writing would less likely be questioned. Whereas an English speaking person would have no idea what the writing would mean, although the engraved script would have been imitating English. Does that make sense?
So, the Chinese were faking to their own market.
Good point - so the Chinese export notion for this kind of clock, in the period we are talking about is highly questionable. Yet the back plate of my example looks very much more Western than the examples with the scrawl.
 

pdf180

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Jun 18, 2009
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Good point - so the Chinese export notion for this kind of clock, in the period we are talking about is highly questionable. Yet the back plate of my example looks very much more Western than the examples with the scrawl.
So what was the Roberts dating that is a 'bit off'? I have seen agreeable examples from early 1780s.
 

Chris Radano

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So what was the Roberts dating that is a 'bit off'? I have seen agreeable examples from early 1780s.
I think his dating of break arch, and full arch case styles are 5-10 years too early. Except maybe for the earliest prototypes. It's bordering on splitting hairs, but nonetheless.....
 

pdf180

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Jun 18, 2009
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cc.jpg Perhaps this helps to resolve some of the questions. I took the dial plate off in an effort - prior to full professional overhauling - to resolve the aperture on the dial surround noted earlier in the discussion. Clearly there have been some historically crude repairs. Is this suggesting the speculated automata element? Thoughts and comments greatly appreciated. Might help us with the dating etc too.
 

Ralph

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I would suggest it was effectively a mock pendulum. Maybe a paste stone or shiny disk moving back and forth behind the aperture.

Ralph
 

pdf180

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Jun 18, 2009
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Seems reasonable conclusion. Certainly no automation elements that I can see. Any further thoughts on dating?
 

pdf180

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I would suggest it was effectively a mock pendulum. Maybe a paste stone or shiny disk moving back and forth behind the aperture.

Ralph
A little update. By pure chance I was surfing around and looking for additions to my collection and came across a Japanese dual time (western and Japanese), with an almost identical break-arch case, similar side frets etc. Similar back too (though engraving more perfunctory than on mine. The seller dates it to 1840. In this case it would seem to be Japanese made, which given that mine was purchased in Japan, might mean that rather than being cantonese, it might be Japanese. I would still plump for cantonese though in the case of mine, and slightly earlier, around 1820-30. The best bit is that it definitely resolves the aperture at the top. In the case of the dual time example, it is -as you mention- a false pendulum behind the aperture. The pics on the dual time clock show how it attaches to etc which is really useful for restoration. However, in the case of the aperture on mine, it seems very small to have something moving behind, and I suspect that whatever is moving should be in front of the aperture. Perhaps it would have been a ship, or a sun or something. We will never know, but I'm going to have something done for it after some further consideration. Patience, it seems, is rewarding. This is the dual time clock: c.1840 Rare Japanese Dual Time Bracket Clock. - Sundialfarm
 

DeanT

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A good example worthy of restoration. Some more thoughts regarding the dating of this clock:
The earliest English examples of this style case probably date to c. 1790. The style of this case didn't become widespread until after the turn of the 19th c. in England. To find a verge fusee movement in a break arch, or pad top, case would be far less common than the anchor movements used after 1800. So, the Chinese clock would almost certainly be 19th century.
Here's one of my clocks, anon. maker. Date? 1810-1820?
Here's one of mine by Haley and Milner who were in partnership 1800-1815 which gives you a good start and end date.

I'd date yours to the same period.

Back.jpg Front.jpg
 

Ralph

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Here's another example. I've always considered it around 2nd (?) quarter 19th century. It's a miniature, about 10" , not including the handle.

Ralph

IMG_20201205_085946232.jpg IMG_20201205_085908370.jpg IMG_20201205_085934264.jpg