Antique gilt brass and frosted glass mystery clock by Robert-Houdin

GBP 18,000.00

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Object Description

Antique gilt brass and frosted glass mystery clock by Robert-Houdin
French, c. 1850
Height 35cm, width 12cm, depth 11cm

This intriguing mantel clock from the mid-19th century is by Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin (French, 1805-1871). He was a renowned clockmaker as well as one of the most well-known magicians of the 19th century, bringing magic performances to the elite. His most famous time-keeping device is the mystery clock, which this magnificent piece in Mayfair Gallery is an example of.

Topping the clock’s gilt brass body is a frosted glass disk with Roman numerals and a single arrow-shaped hour hand. Surrounding the disk is an elegant gilt brass border while below is a pair of wonderfully cast griffin supports. A very unusual and desirable addition is the ornate candlestick positioned behind the glass clock face. This ensured that the clock could also be used in the evenings.

The elegant gilt brass base is decorated with Renaissance style motifs, such as the large foliate panels on three sides of the clock. A hinged door occupies the pack, opening to reveal the clock mechanism.

The mystery of the clock lies in how the piece works without any clearly visible mechanism leading to the clock dial. Robert-Houdin’s ingenious design includes an ‘invisible’ glass hour dial behind the brass dial which is discretely linked to the whole mechanism.

Embodying the superb clock-making skills of Robert-Houdin as well as the increasing fascination with magic performances, this unusual clock would be a superb addition to one’s collection.

Object Details

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