Lépine skeletonized movement in giltwood case- Info Please! Lots of unknown

WIngraham

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I got a new addition today, that I was looking forward to, but I am left with a lot of questions. Any information or pointers to good references, is more than welcome. Wasn't sure whether to post it here or in General Discussion.

The movement is skeletonized, you can see through the whole thing, very cool. There are some features on the back plate that I am unfamiliar with, there appears to be a small spring. Is this for an alarm? There's a lot things going on here that I havent seen before, but I have only been collecting for a short time, so that''s not saying much. The movement itself is beautiful, the countwheel especially. This must have been really something when it was new. The escape wheel is pretty banged up, it has seen better days for sure. I think that there is some missing wheels in the motion works on the front. I really would like to get this movement restored, not sure if its feasible at the moment, considering it has missing wheels.

The case is gilt wood, in decent shape. There are some missing elements, but it has a good look. My toe dip into gilding has made me even more attracted to gilt wood clocks. I think it was under a dome at some point. I do think the case and movement started life together, but I am not sure. What do you guys think? At some point someone put together a decent dust cover for it, in lieu of a dome. There are three hammers, and two bells. Not sure what kind of striking this one does, since I see a snail on the front (which has small numbers etched into it) and a countwheel on the back.

Any thoughts would be great, any ideas on a date, I read clocks were made under the name Lépine for a long time. I circled the unknown part (alarm or repeat?) in a pic below. I believe you cant have enough pics!

Thanks, Will

20210601_174730.jpg 20210601_154142.jpg 20210601_145351.jpg 20210601_150225edit.jpg 20210601_153456.jpg 20210601_153813.jpg 20210601_145417.jpg 20210601_145441.jpg 20210601_150506.jpg 20210601_161759.jpg 20210601_174916.jpg 20210601_162638.jpg 20210601_152254.jpg
 
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zedric

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Beautiful clock - that one is a keeper for sure!

I can't see any evidence of an alarm, as I can't see any hand to set the alarm, nor a disk anywhere for that purpose - you have hands for hour, minute and date. Also, no way of winging the alarm

How is the spring wound? Could it be a rementoire?

The striking is then a head scratcher, as three hammers usually indicates an alarm plus petite or grande sonnerie. Maybe there is a pull repeat or some such. You have two flys..
 

WIngraham

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Hey zedric, I think its wound by a string, pictured below, or is that string a pull repeat since there is a rack connected to it? There looks to be a small click in the second the last picture. Really not sure, I took so many pictures I cant make sense of some of them. I will have to take some better ones.

I've never seen a remontoire so I cant be sure of that. Were they used in strike trains? It is definitely a small spring though, maybe it regulates the strike train somehow beyond my understanding right now. I might take the false plate off tomorrow, so I can take better pictures without it in the way.

I think in my excitement, I missed some photo opportunities when I had the movement out of the case. I added another one below. The third hammer is why I considered an alarm somewhere.

Will

20210601_145427.jpg 20210601_162638edit.jpg
 

zedric

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That looks more like a pull repeat, so maybe it repeats the quarters, but only strikes the hour/half hour, which would explain the hammers.
 

Ralph

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It looks like it strikes the quarters on demand (pull repeat) and strikes the hours on a bell and a single strike on a bell on the half hour in normal running.

IMHO, Ralph
 

WIngraham

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Thanks for the info, so the small spring powers the repeat?

Will
 

Chris Radano

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Looks like the small spring barrel is for pull repeat as others have said. No case covering the movement? Is it a large case? Looks like it was under a glass dome. Also the small snail is for the repeat. The pull repeat is so there is no power taken from the main strike spring. Also it looks like there is a separate fly for the repeat.
Now there are 2 bells. But the single count wheel indicates hour and half hour bim-bam striking? I can't tell there is grand sonnerie striking, it doesn't look like it.
You will have to move the hands forward slowly to tell what the striking does.
There were some interesting Continental striking configurations in the late 18th c.
BTW the hands look c. 1790.
I'm not sure the clock was used in France, French cases were usually gilt bronze sometimes coupled with marble during this time. Maybe the case was made in Austria or somewhere else where gilt wood cases were more common.
Nice skeleton movement!
 

WIngraham

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Hi Ralph, thanks again for your insight. I find them in auctions, usually in Europe. I keep an eye out for ones that I can afford, usually they have bad pictures like this one did, so people with deeper pockets miss them. But someone else wanted this clock, so I ended up paying more than I wanted to. The nature of auctions.

Hey Chris, I agree I think it was under a dome at some point. The case is 24'' tall. Someone made a dust cover for it awhile ago, that fits pretty well. I think the bezel was added later too. I meant to include in the pictures yesterday. I'm sure the movement was fascinating exposed under a dome.

I cant move the hands forward to figure out the strike because there is something missing in the motion works. If you or someone else could give me an idea of what's missing that would be great. Hopefully not more than one wheel. There is at least one empty pivot that I see. I will post a few more pics below.

Thanks, Will

20210601_162450.jpg 20210602_180340.jpg 20210602_172221_LI.jpg 20210602_172336.jpg
 

WIngraham

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I forgot to add, I got this clock from an auction in Belgium. I think it was cased outside France like Chris said.

Will
 

Chris Radano

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I can't exactly tell what's missing from motion works. Is it the small wheel, that is the same size as the minute canon wheel with the 2 pins? So it does look like the clock somehow strikes hours and half hours.
Or does it have something to do with the calendar?
You can try lifting the stop lever off the count wheel and advancing the count wheel manually to see how it strikes. I suspect it's bim-bam strike.
So basically it's a French round 8 day movement, smaller size but the maker made it with a really nice repeat function.

A glass dome would be really expensive. And if a repeat cord ran under the base of a dome, I can imagine the dome crashing down with an enthusiastic pull in the dark.
If the bezel was added, I imagine it was to protect the movement from dust and to bypass a dome.
 

D.th.munroe

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Looks like its missing the minute wheel and a spring I'm guessing the minute wheel had a 4 step snail (or 4 pins) for the quarter repeat, the lever to the left of this should hit the snail when the repeat is activated.
It's just a single bell count strike for hour and one strike for half hour, the other bells are one for hours and bim bam for quarters, thats the only way the number of pins on the repeat pin wheel could work (15 pins on one side 3 on the other) and the pin wheel must have to reverse when winding the repeat.
I think the lever for the hour snail has just fallen (the short steel one just above the center arbour) and should be on top of the hour snail.
The missing spring should be acting on that fancy looking lever for the hour repeat. Which I think should hold both of those levers away from the hour snail until repeat is pulled. I hope this makes sense. see pic
Dan

IMG_20210605_205111.jpg
 
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WIngraham

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Hi Dan, thanks for the explanation. It makes more sense to me than it did before. I did have another couple questions, if you don't mind. I attached another pic, which I think is at a better angle. I see a pin on the rack tail that should act on the snail, is the lever marked #2 part of that action or is it something else? I thought it was for the calendar advancement or is that the #3 lever? Which doesnt seem to be long enough for that.
Thank you for your insight, I appreciate it.

Will
20210609_195839_LI.jpg
 

D.th.munroe

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Oh thats better, I was wrong then about lever 1 I didn't see the pin and I thought the end of #1 was part of #2. So #1 is correct where it is and just moves up to meet the snail with the pin.
I think both 2 and 3 are for the calendar #3 looks like it is the advancement and #2 looks like the jump spring, so it would need to be swung all the way right and the "peak" set between 2 teeth of the calendar wheel.
I'm not sure how 3 is moved though, there is a small wheel on the back of that arbor is that connected?
 

WIngraham

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Hey Dan, thank you for the further info. It is a great help, I appreciate you taking the time to look and answer my questions. I had a busy week so I didnt get to the clock until today.

The #3 lever arbor has a wheel that is connected to the strike barrel teeth. I am attaching a picture below of the back of the movement. What do you think about that? Does it confirm what you were thinking?

Thanks, Will

20210614_181804.jpg
 

Ralph

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I heard that simple French calendars were advanced by the strike side. Your clock confirms it for me. I have one, but mine has a full dial and full plates, and no time to disassemble. So that pawl, must make a full revolution a day, as the barrel unwinds. it would be interesting to know the number of teeth in the strike side barrel. The pawl drive gear looks to have about 28 teeth?.

Ralph
 

WIngraham

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Hi Ralph, I have never heard that before but TBH I don't know much about calendar works. I will count the teeth tomorrow and let you know. Thanks for the info & knowledge.

Will
 

brian fisher

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I don't know what you paid for this clock, but i would say it is fairly extraordinary in several ways. it does indeed seem to be missing some parts. i believe the spring assembly on the back is most likely part of what used to be an alarm. there are many swiss neuchatel clocks with a similar setup. the clock apparently has a calendar(very uncommon for a pendule de paris movement) and possibly (judging by the dial) a sweep seconds hand may have originally been included.

since the "cabinet" is carved from wood, that would indicate an earlier clock. i would really like to see more detailed photos of that awesome movement to get a better idea of age. i see it is a countwheel striking movement but for some reason, it also has a rack and snail mechanism on the front side.

This one has definitely been neglected for many years. i hope you post progress of its restoration as you go.
 

Ralph

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Brian, the spring on the backplate is for the “pull 1/4 repeat” function. I don’t see any evidence that it had a sweep second hand or an alarm.

IMHO, Ralph
 

D.th.munroe

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Hey Dan, thank you for the further info. It is a great help, I appreciate you taking the time to look and answer my questions. I had a busy week so I didnt get to the clock until today.

The #3 lever arbor has a wheel that is connected to the strike barrel teeth. I am attaching a picture below of the back of the movement. What do you think about that? Does it confirm what you were thinking?

Thanks, Will

View attachment 658977
That does seem to be the calendar arm ran by the strike train as I thought, which is odd but not unheard of.
This really is quite an interesting clock Will, just seems weird to add a rack quarter repeat to a count wheel movement, and calendar to the strike.
Dan
 

WIngraham

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Hey Brian, I will definitely post an update after the movement is restored. I think it will looks really good shined up since its exposed. It wasn't cheap but I will sell one to offset it lol.
Thanks Dan for your help in understanding what's going on with the movement. The barrels are a lot larger than other French clocks I have, I wonder if it runs longer than 8 days.
Is last quarter 18th century a fair date for this clock?

Ralph those movements are amazing, do you have a picture of the case that the second one is in? They are what I look for in a clock, just seem hard to find. They have similar features with a different setup. They are Swiss?

Thanks, Will
 

brian fisher

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my pendule de paris movements run for around 12-15 days before they conk out. they are more "run of the mill" than this one and i think that is pretty standard. it is possible that this one could run longer or perhaps it was to add more power for all of those complications.

as to late 18th c, i don't think it is that old, but without better evidence, i would guess it is hard to say. my uneducated thought was somewhere around 1825. +/-10
 

zedric

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I would also hazard a guess that this is more likely to be 1st quarter 19th rather than last quarter 18th, although it could be very late in the 18th century. Maybe I'd opt for circa 1800...

If you look at the movements Ralph shows, I would guess these are from the 18th, they show the characteristic rectangular plates or round plates with the bottom squared off, often with a signature on the backplate. The style of pierced cover used on yours for the spring (often used on watches for the balance spring) was still in use into the 19th century, but more common earlier, and the hands, as Chris has pointed out, could be 18th century.

However, as the whole thing is very different from the norm (especially the wooden case and skeletonised movement), then dating becomes more difficult - it would be hard for anyone to give a firm date on this.
 

Ralph

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Ralph those movements are amazing, do you have a picture of the case that the second one is in? They are what I look for in a clock, just seem hard to find. They have similar features with a different setup. They are Swiss?
Yes, they are Swiss. The case is made of wood. The dial I believe should be enamel and should be slightly larger. The minute hand could b improved.

243-7_1.JPG 243-7_2.JPG 243-7_6.JPG
 

WIngraham

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Very nice clock Ralph, let me know if you ever intend to part with it. Or you may have already. Thank you for the photo. The doves are similar to the ones on the top of this clock.

The pawl drive gear has 24 teeth, and the strike barrel has ~77-78. I believe.

Thank you guys for the dating info. I suggested last 18th because of the fleur-de-lis hands as Chris suggested, and the fleur-de-lis hour markers. I think they were more popular symbols before the French Revolution. Just a theory. I see some of these hands that have been clipped to get rid of a symbol associated with the monarchy.

Will
 

zedric

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With the wooden case on yours, it is not clear that it was sold in France, so the hand style may not help...
 

Ralph

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<snip>

The pawl drive gear has 24 teeth, and the strike barrel has ~77-78. I believe.

Will
Will, 78 teeth would make sense. I'd like 26 teeth on the small drive gear.... are you sure it's 24T. It seems like it would be a factor of 78?? Maybe not?? It might suggest your barrel goes around once every 3 days. It sounds like a 30 clock. Did you start running it yet.

Ralph
 

WIngraham

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Hi Ralph, I recounted the pawl drive gear, it is definitely 24. I'm not positive on the barrel number though. I haven't tried to run it, the teeth on escape wheel are too badly bent. I will have to wait til the restorer takes a good look. I'll probably send it to him next week. A 30 day clock would be a nice addition.
Zedric, that's definitely true. Just guesswork, on my part.
Does anyone understand why auctioneers insist on sticking labels on everything, when a string tag would do? Nuts

Will

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D.th.munroe

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I don't know why they seem to insist on labels on the finished areas, after 15 years I finally got the people at one of the jewellery stores I work for to tape tags only to the glass or tie it on somewhere.
 

rstl99

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Nice find.
You do realize that Jean-Antoine Lépine was one of the better and famous French clock/watchmakers of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth in France?
He retired in 1793/4 at the age of 73, and left the business to his son-in-law Raguet-Lépine (he added Lépine's name at the end of his because of its marketability). Lépine had introduced, along with his father in law André-Charles Caron [1], skeletonization in watches, so it's interesting to see it applied to this complicated clock.
Based on the signature on the dial and the hands, I would think this clock dates from the 1790's, maybe even before Jean-Antoine officially retired.
After Raguet died in 1810, the company was sold off by his son to a different party, and the company changed hands for several decades well into the nineteenth.
I would say your clock has historical value, and I too look forward to seeing it when you've had a chance to clean it up.
Regards,
Robert
[1] see my two well-researched articles on Caron in Nawcc Bulletin in 2019 for information about Lépine etc.
 

WIngraham

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Hi Robert, thank you for the history. I enjoy having as much information and background as possible about the clocks I find. I actually read your articles when they came out in the bulletin, it was the first time I read about Lépine and familiarized me with the name but I never imagined buying a clock with his name on it. Your articles were a fascinating read, and lead me to other reading that I otherwise would not have come across. It's interesting to read about the makers' history and then see their names on clocks in my searches, it adds depth to their work that I am learning to appreciate.
Thanks again, I will post progress with this one.

Will
 

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