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French Mantle Clock

Arlington_VA

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Mar 2, 2018
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Picked this up over the weekend at an estate auction. The pictures are of it in the as-bought state. The case is in good condition with no major losses, though perhaps the dirtiest I have bought and I have purchased some dogs.. the gilt work is intact and i think it will clean up. The movement is stamped S Marti et Cie. The batch # is 3407 and the pendulum length stamp is 48. The movement is clean, and the porcelain face is free of chips and cracks. Overall I think it will clean up well.

This is the first French clock I have ever bought, though I have admired them for some time. Living in the US and operating on a quantity over quality model because I enjoy repairing much more than collecting, I have never had a chance to buy a clock like this for an amount in my usual budget (never more than $50). The fortunate sale of a couple of kitchen clocks left a little extra clock cash in the budget so at the end of the auction I was able to take this home for $126. I've ordered a new pendulum, rod and hook along with a key for another $31, so I will be into it for $157. I intend to disassemble and clean the movement and make any necessary repairs.

I'd appreciate hearing from others their impression of this clock and their experiences working working on / collecting french clocks in general.

S Marti Movement.jpg Marti clock face - Bourn Paris.jpg Samuel Marti medaille de bronze movement.jpg
 

jmclaugh

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Jun 1, 2006
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Congrats, it is a quite a typical example of a French marble clock. Marti was awarded a bronze medal in 1860 so it dates from after then. The fitted pendule de Paris movement is a very well made and reliable one. Having owned a number the only issue I found with them is they can be finicky to get in beat and adjusting the pendulum length on them is not the easiest of tasks so a key for through the dial adjustment, a great many like this one have, above 12 o'clock is a help.
 

Burkhard Rasch

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Jun 1, 2007
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if You realy want to know something about this type of clock invest another 10-20 bucks to get a (used) copy of Nicolas Thorpe´s The French Marble clock , it covers all You want to know from historical aspects up to detailed advice for cleaning and repairing both movement and case.
A nice clock,congrats!
Burkhard
 

Arlington_VA

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Thanks for your feedback. I will track down Thorpe's book and get a copy. Seems like an excellent reference.

I spent a few minutes wiping off dust and grease and the marble is very dull. I do not want to harm the gold leaf but would like to get the marble polished up without harming the leaf. Any product suggestions?
 

Arlington_VA

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I have done some research on this clock:
1. Reviewing Dean's paper on French clocks, I have been lead to believe that the rack and snail movement likely dates to after 1880 (though they were not uncommon before)
2. The dial inscription "MJ Bourn Paris" is likely for the retailer
3. A review of the Paris City Business Directories from 1857 to 1902 found one entry for "Bourn Horloger - Rue de Moulin-Vert 12" in n 1883. Other businesses listed in 1883 at this address were grocers and a wine merchant.
4. The only other reference I uncovered for "Bourn" in the business directories was an 1857 reference for Bourn, a Swiss merchant doing business in the city.

From this I've gathered that MJ Bourne was a probably minor retailer of clocks in Paris. They may have been an agent for a foreign company, or a company located elsewhere.

I've ordered Thorpe's book and hope to gather some more information from it . . .
 

zedric

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That's some good detective work - although when I look at the dial it seems to say WJ Bourn not MJ ?
 

Arlington_VA

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Agreed. The dial inscription is W J not M J. As time permits today I'll see if I can find W J Bourn in any of the other French City Directories or in any Swiss City Directory. The prodigious power of the internet is a super fun to use. I completed the research during my lunch hour yesterday, (working from memory, thus my confusion about the dial inscription). More to come latter.