Eugenie bonaparte (i think) mantel clock

Oct 17, 2021. 07:14 UTC
Eugenie Bonaparte (I think) mantel clock

Antiques & curio

Acquired from

For sale

Eugene Bonaparte mantel clock great exposition looks like 1855, which would be 2 years after marriage to Napoleon III. Japy Freres & Cie


It appears it was exhibited in the Paris Grande Exposition 1855 Med. as indicated in the stamp. The numbers next to the stamp are 9869. It keeps perfect time when wound but is kept unwound.

Answered within about 18 hours
Oct 18, 01:35 UTC
By David

Fair Market Value

$150 - $175 USD

Suggested Asking Price

$125 USD
What does this mean?

Hello Stephen,
Thank you for sending in your French clock to for an appraisal. This appraisal gives me some pause because I know you may be quite surprised at some of my conclusions about your clock, but I am only the messenger here.
Dore bronze (gilt spelter), single barrel spring, eight day timepiece, figural mantel clock, theme of young upper class French woman with bird in her hand, sculpture unsigned, unsigned on dial and there is a transplanted Japy Freres 1855 medallion of Honor that firm won in 1855 and now placed in the wrong part of the movement, therefore this is an unsigned movement, made in France, circa 1880-1890s.
Purchased from a dealer who may have suggested to client that “it was exhibited in the Paris Grande Exposition 1855 Med. as indicated in the stamp.” {FACT - The Japy Freres firm won a minimum of twenty-one medals between 1812 and 1928. The firm used these medals for decades, over and over again on their movements, as a form of advertising their ability to be the best clockmaking firm in France. The 1855 medallion is a quite common one found even up to three decades later on their clock movements, long after it was first awarded to them in Paris.}
Case/Condition: Size not provided. This is a Dore bronze figural clock executed in the style of Napoleon III (ruled 1850-1872) with a sculpted and cast Spelterware female figure holding a golden bird, perhaps a dove in her left hand and either a book or a script of paper in her left. Her hair is pulled back into a bun and she appears quite young and either pensive or sad in her facies. She wears a gown of a noblewoman and slippers. I see no evidence to label her Eugenie Bonaparte, especially when you realize we are not looking at a figure made in or near 1855. She leans into the plinth holding the clock to her left. I cannot see clearly what is atop the clock case. Perhaps there is a swan or stork in the background, cannot be certain. She appears to be in a garden with a large curled acanthus leaf below where she sits. The base of the clock case takes on an undulating form with curled leaves and vines with bell-flowers leading down to the undulating skirting of the base with cast dentil moulding and resting on curled leaf feet to either side of the façade with a third foot at the front, rounded, beaded and with some dentil moulding. The sides and back of the case are not shown. . . . Note the dark patches on the woman’s bodice and face as well as throughout parts of the base. That is where the gilt painted finish is wearing off and exposing the original metal beneath which is dark from oxidation but originally was the color of silver (spelter). This is NOT a sculpted bronze statue. The case is in good overall condition. There appears to be concrete inside the back door and if so this is affirmation of the inside construction of French clocks where, often, concrete is used to hold the various parts of the outer case together.
Dial/Condition: There is a knurled edge beaded bezel surrounding this white porcelain dial with black enameled radial Roman hour chapter ring, open bar minute track and a single winding aperture for this time only movement. Of note is the round aperture above the twelve position, for the patented winding arbor invented by Achille Brocot in the 1840s which case into common usage during the 1850s as a means of making the clock movement faster and slower from the dial side. There is an Antique Breguet steel minute hand and a replaced hour hand from a much later time period. The big problem with the dial is that it has a compound fracture on the right side with multiple fractures. Also, the hour hand is a poor replacement for a Breguet hour hand (which looks like the minute hand).
Movement/Condition: This is a round solid brass plate movement, brass tubular pillars connect the front and rear plates and are pinned at the back plate. There is an anchor recoil escapement, steel cut pinions, and a single barrel spring powers the clock for eight days. Looking at the back plate, we have the additional patent for Achille Brocot for the spring shoulder holding the pendulum suspension spring and provides the click when swinging back and forth 9first invented circa 1865 and in common use by the 1870s. A short pendulum rod holds onto the base of the spring with two griffes or claws and passes down through the crutch. On ALL French clock movement made in the 19th century, the medallion indicating the clockmaker is cast into the center of the lower end of the rear plate. In the upper left hand side of the rear plate we find the movement number where it should be, but we can also find the names or logos of the retailer or the import/exporter of the clock. Instead we find this round 1855 Medal of Honor awarded to the Japy Freres firm in 1855 at the Paris exposition. This is not cast into the rear plate as far as I can tell. It appears to have been cut out and applied to this part of the rear plate. The medallion is always recessed from the surface, especially if it is worn, as most are. So, this medallion has been removed from another clock and placed on this one (in my opinion). This finding is a terrible hurt to value of this clock. I would have to say the movement is in good condition but has to be referred to as an unsigned movement. Time only clocks also were not commonly made until one gets towards the end of the 19th century. Almost all (but not all) were time and strike movement.
HISTORY OF Japy Freres:
Frederick Japy (1749-1812) was born in Beaucort, France. He was the first to stamp and to "rough-out” clock parts and movements by machine tools (1776). In 1779 he patented machinery for making clock and watch parts by unskilled workers by using methods of mass production. This was a small milling machine. In 1810 he started a factory at Baderel. The company grew and became one of the great 19th century industrial firms for clocks, watches, locks kitchen, dinner ware and water pumps. After his death the work was carried on by his sons, who in 1812, formed "Societe Japy Freres". Many small hamlets in France were turned into busy mill towns by this family, whose endeavors matched those of the great industrialists in America during the 19th century. They produced a product of high quality. The five brothers traded under the name "Japy Freres" from 1837. After 1854 "Japy Freres et Cie" appeared, followed in 1928 by "Societe Anonyme des Establissments Japy Freres". Prior to 1880 there was the use of a count wheel, seen on the back plate, for striking. After that date they used a rack and snail strike.
~ (Sold in 2020 for $247)
~ (Young lady with bird, sold for $125 in 2020)
~ (sold for $400 in 2019)
~ (sold for $300 in 2019)
~ (sold for $1200 in 2020)
~ (Sold for $683, and was not made in the seconds quarter of the 19th century as stated.)
~ (sold for $253 in 2019)
Obviously you were not aware of all of these findings about dating clocks by using dates on medallions (never should be done), placement of medallions, the devaluation of a clock with compound fractures on the dial. Notions about famous people always being on figural French clocks when most were simple genre scenes of everyday life. But the worst is the transplanted medallion. Unfortunately, we made these discoveries after you purchased this clock, and I would have preferred to do this for you before you bought it. In today’s demanding clock marketplace the fair market price of this example in its current condition would be in the range of $150-$175 on a very good day.
I truly do not like having to bring you back news, and to see what has been done to your clock. But I have to tell you there is nothing new under the sun when it comes to the clocks and watch market, and I have seen just about all of the warts there are to see. I apologize for having to bring you bad news, and yet as I see it, it is simply the truth.
Thank you for choosing mearto .com for your appraisal.
My best,

Stephen attree Oct 18, 05:08 UTC

Hi David,
Thank you for your honest opinion, which is what I was seeking. I had no aspirations that the clock was valuable. I only had the information from the delear and he probably obtained that information from whoever he obtained the clock from. I like the clock regardless. The valuation is along the lines of what I paid. When you consider what you would pay for a new clock powered by a battery, then I feel I have a nice clock with a better understanding of its history.
Thank you again for your time, effort. and expertise.

David Oct 18, 15:18 UTC

Thank you for your kind words, understanding and eagerness to discover the truth about this clock. I agree fully with you that it is a fine looking example, typically French in every way and it seems to serve your basic purpose in purchasing it.
Hope you continue to enjoy its French aesthetic and the lady's pensive and contemplative appearance. Best of luck.
Be well,

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