History of our pendule de Paris

Marc in York UK

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Can anyone throw more light on the age and provenance of our white marble mantel clock?

The movement is stamped by Japy Freres et Cie for the grande medaille d'honneur at the 1855 exhibition. The clock face, in roman numerals, is marked Yates a Paris.

It has a small retard and advance mechanism above the XII. Both the movement and the pendulum bob are stamped with the serial number 2384, and the back plate also has L stamped above the serial number and 6 close to the bottom edge.

It rings the hour and half-hour with a mechanism wound separately.

It is running nicely in beat now that it is properly level, and keeps good time for a clock of this age and type.

Am I right in thinking it is quite unusual? I haven't seen another one from this era that is so plain and lacking in ornament.

I very much look forward to hearing from anyone who knows about the development of these clocks.

P1000668.JPG P1000656.JPG P1000648.JPG P1000647.JPG P1000644.JPG DSC_0045.JPG DSC_0050.JPG
 
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zedric

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The French Marble Clock by Nicolas Thorpe is the reference book for these, and is relatively cheap. But yes, they are usually more decorative than this - I think the feature here is simply the use of white stone (is it marble?)
 

Ticktocktime100

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Hi,

Your clock does indeed have a white marble case - I wouldn't go as far as calling such cases unusual or rare, but they are indeed less common than the black marble cases. It was made in the 1880-1900 bracket. The movement was indeed manufactured by Japy Frères, and Yates à Paris is the retailer.

Regards.
 

jmclaugh

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The only unusual thing about it is the colour of the case, white ones are not common, it's a nice clock. According to Thorpe that logo was used up until around 1888.
 

Marc in York UK

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The French Marble Clock by Nicolas Thorpe is the reference book for these, and is relatively cheap. But yes, they are usually more decorative than this - I think the feature here is simply the use of white stone (is it marble?)
Thankyou Zedric for making me stop to think about the "white marble" before trying to clean off the dirt and stains. To judge by the surface scratch next to the hinge of the front glass, it could be alabaster. I have been looking at the very useful threads from a few years ago which point out the characteristics of marble, alabaster etc. It hadn't occurred to me that anyone would make a clock case out of a material as soft as alabaster, but it turns out that French makers did use it.

Best wishes, Marc
 

Curtis Brown

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I just bought a very similar one myself. A Japy Freres "Exhibition" clock. Mine is black slate and even less ornamented than yours. It's actually a silk suspension version, time only. Exactly the same makers mark. A different serial number but in the same three locations.

Japy clock.jpg
 

jmclaugh

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Another nice one, quite a similar case but a timepiece and silk suspension from or post 1855.
 
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Marc in York UK

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I just bought a very similar one myself. A Japy Freres "Exhibition" clock. Mine is black slate and even less ornamented than yours. It's actually a silk suspension version, time only. Exactly the same makers mark. A different serial number but in the same three locations.

View attachment 598279
Curtis, thanks for showing us this one. A very handsome clock. The case looks pretty much exactly the same in form and proportions as ours. Do you know who assembled and sold yours? The face of ours is marked Yates a Paris below the winding shafts. I haven't found any other clocks for sale that were assembled by Yates.

I am pretty sure now that ours is made of alabaster. It has some scratches that wouldn't be likely in marble. Also, I have tried putting a light behind it in the dark and it does appear quite translucent. I am now wondering whether it was intended to stand in front of a light. There is a glass door at the back the same size as the clock face.

Thanks again for sharing a picture of your clock.

Marc
 
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Ticktocktime100

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I am pretty sure now that ours is made of alabaster. It has some scratches that wouldn't be likely in marble. Also, I have tried putting a light behind it in the dark and it does appear quite translucent. I am now wondering whether it was intended to stand in front of a light. There is a glass door at the back the same size as the clock face.
Hi,

I could be wrong, but having owned a few alabaster clocks myself I think yours is more likely to be white marble as alabaster, at least in my experience, is a paler white, almost beige in places. The colour of your case, on the contrary, is very pure and unified, which more compatible with white marble. I don't think the case was specifically made to stand in front of a light, but certainly to reflect the light.

Regards.
 

JTD

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Hi,

I could be wrong, but having owned a few alabaster clocks myself I think yours is more likely to be white marble as alabaster, at least in my experience, is a paler white, almost beige in places. The colour of your case, on the contrary, is very pure and unified, which more compatible with white marble. I don't think the case was specifically made to stand in front of a light, but certainly to reflect the light.

Regards.
I agree - and it certainly wasn't mean to have a light behind it.

JTD
 

Royce

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The following information was in an article written by Robert Gray; The Restoration of an Alabaster French Clock in the January/February 2012 • NAWCC Watch & Clock Bulletin. This should allow one to test the case and determine; Onyx, Marble or Alabaster.

"Information on onyx was contributed by NAWCC member David E. Booth Jr., who is also a member of the Maryland Horological Association: “Onyx can appear in any color and every density of color, from clear to solid black. ....... (Think amethyst, which is actually a specific form of quartz.) “Marble is not quartz and is both softer and more porous. Marble is also known to appear in all varieties of color from pure white, through all colors, to pure black.”

David also gave us this invaluable information on testing the various stones: “Quartz will scratch steel, but steel will scratch marble. If you are in doubt as to the material you have, test on a hidden surface with a piece of heavy copper wire. Copper will scratch alabaster. If the copper wire does not scratch it (wipe across the test area with a dry finger to be sure that what you see is a scratch, and not a streak left on the surface of the rock), try to scratch it with the blade of a pocket knife. If the knife does not scratch it, you probably have onyx."

I just happened upon this article when trying to find out how to clean an Alabaster French Clock and thought this might assist you in determining the stone for your case.

Hope it helps.
 
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Curtis Brown

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Sorry for the delayed response Marc and thank you Royce for the enlightening article. Based on that it does appear to these eyes that Marc's clock may be alabaster.

When searching for more information on my own clock I came across an auction posting (likely long expired now) for a clock that is virtually identical to mine but is cased in white stone (alabaster?) like yours. There are photos in the posting:

Japy Freres, Paris 1855 Grand Expo., Medaille D'honnor, White Marble Timepiece. | #1796485849

As for my clock yes the case seems very much the same form and also has a glass rear door. There are no marks, beyond the Japy makers stamp, to suggest a case maker. The face of the clock is completely clean, and in rather fine condition for a clock this old. The black stone case itself has many white spots on it and appears to have suffered a rather poor attempt(s) at cleaning. Research here on the boards suggest there may be some reasonable ways to clean this up properly and restore the finish. I've added a few more pictures so you can see further, all taken of the clock as I received it prior to any restoration.

IMG_2586.jpg IMG_2587.jpg IMG_2589.jpg
 

JTD

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When searching for more information on my own clock I came across an auction posting (likely long expired now) for a clock that is virtually identical to mine but is cased in white stone (alabaster?) like yours. There are photos in the posting:

I am confused. The auctioneer's description says 'white marble'. Why do you think it may have been alabaster?

But perhaps I have missed something.

JTD
 

Curtis Brown

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I am confused. The auctioneer's description says 'white marble'. Why do you think it may have been alabaster?

But perhaps I have missed something.

JTD
I am hardly expert on stone and certainly don't know that Marc's clock is alabaster. I'm probably wrong in my guess. :)

As for the clock on the auction site, I was just wondering. Ergo my ? question mark.
 

JTD

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Oh I see, thanks for explaining. To me, the one in the auction site you linked looks definitely marble but, like you, I am not a stone expert.

JTD
 

Curtis Brown

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Oh I see, thanks for explaining. To me, the one in the auction site you linked looks definitely marble but, like you, I am not a stone expert.

JTD
All this discussion on alabaster and marble got me to thinking more about my clock. I had described it above as black slate. That is how it was described to me when sold to me. Initially I had no cause to question that.

I have recently procured a used copy of Thorpe’s book “The French Marble Clock” and did some further reading. It contains extensive information about these types of clocks and goes very deep into the extraction and types of marbles used.

There is a simple test to see if a stone is marble. It will cause a tiny effervescence (bubbling) when exposed to acid. Slate will not bubble. I did some quick checks on here on the boards and saw several other threads that mention this same test using lemon juice on a part of the case away from regular sight (like the underside).

Thorpe says the bubbles will be quite tiny but numerous.

I tried it. Mine case has a little chip in it’s edge. I got a drop of fresh lemon juice.

We have bubbles.

If you click the photo you can easily see them.

33EB9D76-ED20-4708-B911-885B2F5B1F96.jpeg

So clearly I didn’t even know the stone in my own clock case much less anyone else’s. :)

You might try this on yours Marc. I’m now quite curious. :)
 
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Royce

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The following information was in an article written by Robert Gray; The Restoration of an Alabaster French Clock in the January/February 2012 • NAWCC Watch & Clock Bulletin. This should allow one to test the case and determine; Onyx, Marble or Alabaster..
Too late to edit. My apologies to Robert Gary. As you can see, I got the r and a backwards and came up with Gray instead of Gary. It is a great article if you are restoring an Alabaster clock case.
 

Marc in York UK

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All this discussion on alabaster and marble got me to thinking more about my clock. I had described it above as black slate. That is how it was described to me when sold to me. Initially I had no cause to question that.

I have recently procured a used copy of Thorpe’s book “The French Marble Clock” and did some further reading. It contains extensive information about these types of clocks and goes very deep into the extraction and types of marbles used.

There is a simple test to see if a stone is marble. It will cause a tiny effervescence (bubbling) when exposed to acid. Slate will not bubble. I did some quick checks on here on the boards and saw several other threads that mention this same test using lemon juice on a part of the case away from regular sight (like the underside).

Thorpe says the bubbles will be quite tiny but numerous.

I tried it. Mine case has a little chip in it’s edge. I got a drop of fresh lemon juice.

We have bubbles.

If you click the photo you can easily see them.

View attachment 600831

So clearly I didn’t even know the stone in my own clock case much less anyone else’s. :)

You might try this on yours Marc. I’m now quite curious. :)

Thanks for the very informative advice from you and other members. I was feeling a bit cautious about the acid test, but your suggestion of a drop of lemon juice is certainly worth trying as there is plenty of exposed surface inside the aperture for the rear glass.

Meanwhile, I ordered some Groom / stick. It is very effective at taking surface dirt off old paper, and it has lifted out most of the grime that was trapped in the crevices and in the pattern engraved on the front of the case.. The result is that I can see the case is mostly a slightly greyish white, but with a few veins and areas of pale caramel which I can now see are within the stone rather than the result of previous clumsy attempts at cleaning as I initially thought.

There are still some darker areas which I think are surface dirt. Before I try anything more aggressive I shall see whether I can shift those by gentle rubbing with white spirit (which I think is called mineral spirits in the USA).

Thanks again for your very helpful comments.

Best wishes

Marc
 

Marc in York UK

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I am adding a couple of photos showing how the caramel in the white stone came through after I removed the surface dirt with Groom / stick.

_20200725_222746.JPG _20200725_223012.JPG
 

svenedin

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They can be rather over the top in comparison to yours. I have quite an ornate one by Vincenti. I think it's a bit hideous actually but I inherited it and felt sorry for it so I restored it. I wrote about the whole restoration in 2013 (long thread)

Vincenti Slate/Black Marble Clock
 
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Marc in York UK

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Your thread was fascinating. What a saga.

I have finally found another clock with a case that seems to be made of the same material as ours, at objet. I attach some photos. It is described as white marble (not alabaster). I shall try the lemon juice test to confirm that ours is indeed marble.

Ours could so easily have been covered with statues like yours.

Marc

614890-5ee4bfb2d359d.jpg 614890-alb-5ee4bff25e8a8.jpg 614890-alb-5ee4c04b93266.jpg 614890-main-5ee4bf6f52951.jpg
 
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Curtis Brown

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Svenedin your Vincenti restoration is amazing. Quite a clock.

After some considerable research I decided to try a pretty simple approach to restoring mine.

One reason I bought this clock was that the dial was so clean. Required nothing more than a light cleaning with water.

Brasso on the front and back bezels was straight forward, albeit with a lot a lot of small edges to clean out by hand.

The black marble case was quite intact but had been etched by something, perhaps a botched cleaning effort, that left what appeared to be white cloudy stains, like drops, all over the horizontal surfaces. Again after considerable research, I have come to understand that they are not stains but "etches" that are extremely difficult to completely remove but can be considerably improved. I'm not look for perfection. :)

Here's a shot of a case corner. You can see the etching clearly.

IMG_1885.jpg

Several members posted here on the NAWCC message boards that cleaning the case of old polish and dirt with very fine steel wool and then applying black shoe polish did a great job with restoring their cases. I also saw one post that stated that some heat applied to the polish would help the etches absorb the polish and clean up the discoloration. I also found a very useful youtube video. While not dealing with obvious etching problems, it was an excellent look at a case restoration with shoe polish. He's also not sure if his case is marble or slate! :)

While the etches are not eliminated they are vastly improved:

IMG_1936.jpg

And the restored clock:

IMG_1928.jpg
 
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svenedin

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Svenedin your Vincenti restoration is amazing. Quite a clock.

After some considerable research I decided to try a pretty simple approach to restoring mine.

One reason I bought this clock was that the dial was so clean. Required nothing more than a light cleaning with water.

Brasso on the front and back bezels was straight forward, albeit with a lot a lot of small edges to clean out by hand.

The black marble case was quite intact but had been etched by something, perhaps a botched cleaning effort, that left what appeared to be white cloudy stains, like drops, all over the horizontal surfaces. Again after considerable research, I have come to understand that they are not stains but "etches" that are extremely difficult to completely remove but can be considerably improved. I'm not look for perfection. :)

Here's a shot of a case corner. You can see the etching clearly.

View attachment 602629

Several members posted here on the NAWCC message boards that cleaning the case of old polish and dirt with very fine steel wool and then applying black shoe polish did a great job with restoring their cases. I also saw one post that stated that some heat applied to the polish would help the etches absorb the polish and clean up the discoloration. I also found a very useful youtube video. While not dealing with obvious etching problems, it was an excellent look at a case restoration with shoe polish. He's also not sure if his case is marble or slate! :)

While the etches are not eliminated they are vastly improved:

View attachment 602630

And the restored clock:

View attachment 602631
Lovely job!
 

jmclaugh

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Svenedin your Vincenti restoration is amazing. Quite a clock.

After some considerable research I decided to try a pretty simple approach to restoring mine.

One reason I bought this clock was that the dial was so clean. Required nothing more than a light cleaning with water.

Brasso on the front and back bezels was straight forward, albeit with a lot a lot of small edges to clean out by hand.

The black marble case was quite intact but had been etched by something, perhaps a botched cleaning effort, that left what appeared to be white cloudy stains, like drops, all over the horizontal surfaces. Again after considerable research, I have come to understand that they are not stains but "etches" that are extremely difficult to completely remove but can be considerably improved. I'm not look for perfection. :)

Here's a shot of a case corner. You can see the etching clearly.

View attachment 602629

Several members posted here on the NAWCC message boards that cleaning the case of old polish and dirt with very fine steel wool and then applying black shoe polish did a great job with restoring their cases. I also saw one post that stated that some heat applied to the polish would help the etches absorb the polish and clean up the discoloration. I also found a very useful youtube video. While not dealing with obvious etching problems, it was an excellent look at a case restoration with shoe polish. He's also not sure if his case is marble or slate! :)

While the etches are not eliminated they are vastly improved:

View attachment 602630

And the restored clock:

View attachment 602631
Came up nicely and it's a clock worthy of the effort, I'd find a place for it.
 

svenedin

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Thank you. Much less complex than your Vincenti effort!
Yes that was a major undertaking. I still have the clock and the one thing I can say is if anyone wanted to steal it they would most likely do themselves a serious back injury trying to lift it!
 

svenedin

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Came up nicely and it's a clock worthy of the effort, I'd find a place for it.
Thanks. I think it was the dial that got me set on the idea of restoring it. It's such an unusual dial. I am used to the clock now and no longer find it so monstrous. I did look at selling it at one point as I have lots of other clocks that are not displayed (and deserve it) but the clock has such limited appeal that it would not fetch much. After all my efforts I couldn't part with it for a pittance.
 

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