19th century French mantle clock

Sep 16, 2021. 17:16 UTC
19th century French mantle clock
United States of America


Acquired from

For sale

Bronze with a marble base



French maker stamp….Freres Editeurs….Paris.

Answered within 1 day
Sep 17, 19:46 UTC
By David

Fair Market Value

$1,500 - $1,750 USD

Suggested Asking Price

$1,500 USD
What does this mean?

Hello Robert,
Thank you for sending in this figural clock to mearto.com for an appraisal. Thank you for sending in the extra photos as well.
Second French Empire, retardetaire, patinated and Dore bronze, balance wheel escapement, dual spring, time and bell striking, figural mantel clock, mythological theme of Venus and Cupid, original artist unknown, cast by the foundry of “Susse Freres Editeurs, Paris, M”, partial Vincenti medallion on the movement, clock made and retailed circa 1900-1910. {Venus and Amor/Cupid was a theme of many figural clocks seen in 18th century France. This particular example is unknown to me in terms of the original artist who designed this format.}
CASE: (size not supplied) this is figural mantel clock, the figures made in black patinated and Dore bronze standing on a black shaped platform just above a rectilinear white marble base with the façade arched forward and ornamented with ormolu beading and the façade of the marble base having a recessed frieze of ormolu foliate forms and separate similar rosette patters placed on either side of the arched portion. There appear to be gilt metal toupie feet below, but are not well shown. The statue of the two figures shows a Dore bronze Venus, the goddess of love, wearing a crown of stars, wearing a beautiful toga and no sandals while holding what appears to be a book in her left hand on part of a rocky outcropping in patinated bronze. The canister type clock case appears to be embedded in the rock itself with the dial at the front. Of great interest is the golden winged cupid who holds a globe under his right arm, perhaps a winged bird in his left hand and beneath the rock signs of perhaps a sundial appear. This is quite unusual in that the theme, not too often noticed, refers to the education of Cupid. Cupid’s education was taught primarily by Venus and Mercury, his father. Certain clocks made in France, a minority however, are devoted to this theme and some that I have appraised were based on Renaissance paintings. Cupid needed a proper education to fully understand the world and its people so that he could direct his arrows toward the appropriate couples. The face of Venus is quite well done, remains placid and has the Classic look of a mythological goddess. Here eye are colored in which was often done of statues even in the time of the Greeks and Romans. At the back of the clock case there is a round medallion stamped into the metal, the foundry mark, which reads, “Susse Freres Editeurs, Paris, and M”. The “M” is adjacent to the mark, and may represent one of their artists under contract. {Apparently the Susse Freres foundry made contacts and created contracts with various French artists who had designed the original items and these were produced from the Foundry of the two brothers and those that came after them. Much more common are statues that came from the foundry rather than clock cases.}
DIAL: A gilt brass, glazed bezel opens to a round white porcelain dial with black enameled Arabic hours, done in the manner of Breguet, closed dotted minute track to the outside with red Arabic markers placed at the quarter hours. There is no evidence of a Brocot aperture over the twelve, which points to a date circa 1900 or beyond. There are well done gilt fenestrated Louis XVth style hands. Two winding apertures are noted with little signs of usage. The dial is unsigned.
MOVEMENT: Unfortunately, I am unable to see the entire movement with the bell block half of the back plate of the movement. I certainly would have expected this movement to have the circular French movements that utilized a pendulum. Instead, this appears to be a circular French movement that has been reworked to have a balance wheel type of escapement on the back plate. This did not require a pendulum, and it is very unusual to see such a movement, meant to make a small table clock into a portable clock, to find it here in a relative large French figural clock is disturbing. at the base of the back movement plate there is a medallion marked,
"Medaille D'Argent, Vincenti". {Vincenti won silver medals in 1824, 1834 and two in 1855. He sold his business in 1870. The Vincenti medallions continued to appear on French made clocks, usually his 1855 medals. I believe that Roux, who purchased the Vincenti business and worked closely with Japy Freres, continued to use the 1855 Vincenti medallion.} What is most strange on this movement is that the medal is incomplete and is missing the date 1855, which should be on the bottom of the cast medallion. Also missing, under the printed name vincenti is " & Cie" (and company). I cannot understand why there is a partial medallion, unless this movement was made years before the clock case and was lying around the Susse Freres factory. {They likely had numerous old French movements left inside their bronzier business, and at some point chose to use this movement marked vincenti inside this particular case.} It is possible that this is the French movement originally used inside this case, and that someone altered the construction of the movement to convert it from a pendulum movement to a balance wheel movement. I associate such alterations with the 20th century rather than the 19th in French clockmaking. Also, by 1890 France had passed a government law requiring movements in French made clock, to be marked France or 'made in France' due to the copious amount of copies coming on the market from Germany and Switzerland. This movement does not have such a marking, and it was likely made prior to 1890.
Here is a good example of what the 1855 silver medal made by Vincenti would look like and note the "Made in France" mark above it. - - https://i.imgur.com/alGIWMa.jpg
I am going to assume that this was the first movement used inside this particular susse Freres case, bu that the movement was restored and altered from a pendulum example to a balance wheel movement.
CASE – Very well made and beautifully executed with no signs of significant damage. Excellent, but probably made in the first decade of the 20th century.
DIAL - Clean, no signs of heavy usage around the winding holes. Unsigned.
MOVEMENT - I will consider this altered movement to be original to the case for purposes of this appraisal, but this is not the type of movement one would expect to see in late 19th century France. To me, this remains a hurt to value.
Susse Freres Foundry started casting bronze in 1839 under the direction of Michel Victor Susse and Amedee Susse who were brothers. The foundry published a six page catalogue of sculpture in that year. They produced ornaments for furniture and clocks as well as statues. In 1847 they obtained the permission to use the Sauvage procedure of reduction which was similar to the one invented by Achille Collas, cofounder of the Barbedienne foundry. In the years following, Susse Freres contracted with several French sculptors including Jacquemart, Duret, and Moigniez to produce their editions.
The Susse Company, a foundry, began to cast pieces as soon as the first half of the 19th Century. Awarded medals several times at the famous Paris « Expositions des Produits de l’Industrie », Susse brothers, Victor (1806-1860) and Amédée (1808-1880), were known since 1841 as makers of “Art bronze pieces for clocks, candelabras, statuettes, etc. The most well-known French sculptors gave their sculpted models to Susse in order to cast them, such James Pradier (1790-1852) who signed in 1841 the oldest known publishing contract for bronzes between publisher and artist. I suspect the M adjacent to their mark may have represented one of their client artists.
Michel Victor Susse died in 1860 leaving Amedee as the sole director of the foundry until 1880 when Albert Susse became the director. The Susse Freres foundry purchased the models of Pierre Jules Mene and Auguste Cain in 1895 after Cain's death and also contracted with Pierre Nicholas Tourgeneff to produce his editions. At the turn of the century Susse Freres opened a large new retail shop at 13 Boulevard de Madeleine to sell their items which had expanded to include inkwells, candelabras and clocks, as well as sculptures. The company continued to be run after Albert Susse's death by his son Jacques Susse and then by Albert's grandson Andre Susse. Andre Susse died in 1961 and his widow continues to run the business using both the sand cast and lost wax method of foundry casting until the mid-1970's.
Tardy’s Dictionary of French Clockmakers lists the brothers at Place de la Bourse from 1850-1900, making bronzes through their own foundry.
~https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/102178932_bronze-figure-with-clock-of-hebe-and-jupiter (Signed on the dial Susse Freres and note the Brocot aperture above the twelve for adjusting the pendulum length. This sold in 2021 for $2600. The figures are Hebe and Jupiter by artist Pradier, cast and retailed by Susse Freres.)
~https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/104890504_susse-freres-gilt-and-silvered-bronze-and-marble-clock (Clock garniture with statues cast by Susse Freres and marked on the dial and the typical French spring driven movement with pendulum. Failed to sell because the minimum was $10,000.)
~https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/70427550_susse-freres-bronze-and-marble-mantel-clock (Psyche and Cupid designed by Thomire, cast and retailed by Susse Freres, sold for $1400, signed on the dial, with Brocot aperture over the twelve indicating a full pendulum type French eight day movement.
~https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/101279913_a-james-pradier-french-figural-mantel-clock (Bronze signed: J. Pradier / Susse / ED; Dial signed: Susse Freres a Paris; movement signed by Susse Freres in the upper left hand corner where retailers sign. This is a depiction of Aphrodite playing her seven stringed lyre.)
~ https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/7903746_171-bronze-cupid-and-psyche-tiffany-and-co-clock (I show you this depiction of Venus and Cupid sold eleven years ago when prices were significantly higher, it sold in 2010 for $$4000. Note the dial is signed and has a Brocot aperture as it should, and finally the base of the rear plate of the movement bears the medallion of Japy Freres the clockmaker based on an honor award it won at a Swiss horological exposition in 1880.)
In all of my research tonight of all of the Susse Freres clocks I could locate, and there were quite a few, NONE had the type of movement (i.e. balance wheel) found in your example. and that leads me to the conclusion that although the case is certainly real and well-executed, yours may be more of a decorator clock than a true antique example, since the movement remains a great question mark to me, despite seeing a partial Vincenti mark. If original the movement likely predates the clock case by some years. I have seen these associations many times before, because it was not only the antique clock market that has tumbled for two decades, but a huge Home Furnishings Decorator market that suffered as well. Your clock was never meant to be made portable. It does retain a significant value even as a decorator type clock because of the beautifully executed case, but overall, if it had the correct type of 19th century French movement it would have achieved a fair market value in the mid-four figure range. As it sits today, still quite beautiful with a french made movement that has been altered aftermarket. I would price this figural clock in the fair market range of $1500-$1750 with retail prices about twice that much.
I am sorry to be the messenger in this case, but I try to do an honest job, and I have found in the past 10 years that movements and cases have been altered to a great extent to supply the marketplace with enough merchandise to sell at a higher than usual price. I have seen many old movements with late 20th century cases, old cases with new movements, old cases with old movements from different clocks. It can be quite confusing to those who do not do these appraisals over and over again and that is why I always need to see just what the clients do not want to fully show me. I would have done the appraisal even if I could not see the movement compartment to some degree, and would have written it up as an appraisal with a price that was “conditional” based on certain things being correct.
I truly thank you for choosing mearto.com and for the extra photos.
I hope you understand the things that I have written about this clock.
My best,

Robert godau Sep 17, 20:38 UTC

Yes….I can provide the information you are requesting. However…it will be provided tomorrow on September 18th…..

David Sep 17, 21:19 UTC

Hi Robert,
Thank you for what you sent to me. I just read your message. Are you sending more info and photos tomorrow?

Robert godau Sep 17, 21:49 UTC

I took the bell off and did see a very small stamped marking on the clock movement….it can’t be photographed clearly with my cell phone.

Robert godau Sep 18, 15:00 UTC

I just included a photo that showed the Makers Stamp on the clock movement. I believe this is the original movement on the clock. Would this change the value if the clock?

David Sep 18, 16:44 UTC

This is an incomplete medallion marked "Vincenti, Medaille D'Argent".
The Vincenti firm won silver medals at various contests in 1824, 1834 and twice in 1855. The 1855 medallion was used on clock made late in the 19th century after Vincenti had stopped production and sold his clock movement company in 1870. The 1855 medallion that resembles your example has
"Medaille D'Argent and 1855 printed around the outer edge of the stamp. (Yours is blank and missing the 1855) and in the center of medal, like your, Vincenti is printed and csat into the stamp. However in the middle under his name is written "& Cie" (and Company) which is missing on your stamp. Here is an example of what it should look like - -https://i.imgur.com/alGIWMa.jpg
Also note that the movement is marked just above the vincenti stamp, "Made in France". I did not mention this in my appraisal, but you should be aware that in 1890 the french government passed a law requiring movement and/or French made clocks be marked with similar wording. They did this because of all the imitations of french made movement and clocs that were coming to market. I do not think your clock movement had that marking.
What I will do is edit my appraisal in order to mention the partial medallion on the movement, and make the assumption that it was an older Vincenti movement that the Susse firm likely owned and chose to use in this clock case, but that the movement has been reworked to convert it from a pendulum to a balance wheel type (such things were done post 1900). So, to answer your question, I would raise the value based on this movement being originally French-made and then restored at some point after-market. I will add $500 to the values.
I will rework some of the wording in the appraisal after I send you this message.

Robert godau Sep 18, 18:19 UTC

Thank you! I will await the revision.

Robert Godau

David Sep 18, 20:17 UTC

You should have received the revised version abou 90 minutes ago.
You should find it above.
Let me know if you do not receive it.
It should show the new value and the discussion of the movement and the Vincenti medallion.

Robert godau Sep 18, 22:57 UTC

I did receive the revised appraisal. How would I locate the appropriate place to sell this clock? Any advice would be appreciated..

David Sep 18, 23:42 UTC

Back in April 2021, I was contacted by Lindsey, our chief appraiser who informed me that we have our own marketplace. I saved her email so I could send out her instructions when asked the question you just posed for me. Before looking for auction houses in Florida, where there are many but few really good ones, you should try to see if you can sell this online in our marketplace. Here is her
email from April. (I have never been able to view the online marketplace, but apparently clients can. You can ask whatever price you would like especially if there is interest from more than one source.
If this does not work for you I will give you the name of an auction house in Florida, but on the east coast.) .. .
"I spoke with Lindsey, the head appraiser yesterday who informed me that on Tuesday April 20, mearto is opening a new feature called the mearto 'marketplace' where clients who have answered "yes" to the question of whether their item was up for sale, can start to list their items. (If you had said no you can change that to a yes when you use your account to enter the marketplace.)
All of the listed items will be looked at by a group of dealers who may have interest, and if so, they would contact the specific client. In the future when an item is appraised for a value between $50 and $5000, the appraiser will have to fill out a box with a suggested "listing price". Since these are dealers who are doing the buying (at this early time) they would look for a price that is a bit lower than fair market. However, whatever the "listing price" is, as determined by the appraiser, the client can go into his account, enter the marketplace and make that price lower or higher as he/she desires. Since this is the inception of the marketplace there is a growing list of participating dealers, which at this time is relatively small. Although it starts on Tuesday, the first two days will be to work out kinks in the system and the real starting time will be two days later on Thursday April 22. Again, you can access the marketplace by simply signing into your account after Tuesday.
Hope that information is helpful to you."

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