Romulus and remus clock

Oct 26, 2019. 21:32 UTC
Romulus and remus clock
United States of America


Acquired from
Auction House

For sale

The clock measures approximately 22 inches high and 12 in across. I think it has a silk French movement and probably from the 1800s. The clock is heavy and appears to be mostly if not all brass. It is currently not in working condition. I am told the clock could possibly be french-made I cannot find anything in the clock to tell me who the maker might be.


I do not know anything about the history of the clock. I purchased it at a local auction. What intrigued me was the finding of a Sotheby's sticker on the underneath of the clock.

Answered within about 18 hours
Oct 27, 15:53 UTC
By David

Fair Market Value

$1,300 - $1,800 USD

Insurance Value

$3,100 USD
What does this mean?

Hello David,
Thank you for sending in this clock to for an appraisal. I shall try to help you with this today.
Dore bronze, double barrel spring with silk thread suspension, eight-day time and strike, figural mantel clock, Romulus and Remus theme, Unsigned, made in Paris, France, circa 1840-1860. (You need to unscrew the bell and look for a medallion at the bottom of the back plate to see if the movement is signed.)
Sotheby’s auction.
Case - 22” x 12” Dore bronze (gilt metal-most likely gilded brass) figural mantel clock, the main clock case surmounted by a casting of the twin infants Romulus and Remus with the wolf who suckled them early on and the resultant story about the founding of Rome. The Dore bronze cube shaped case is ringed at the edge of the pediment with egg and dart ornamented dentil molding extending across the façade and the two sides of the case. Just below the rectilinear façade centers the cast Dore bronze dial surrounded with rococo foliate and floral scrollwork in a diamond-shaped enclosure executed in bas relief. The upper part of the base molding is richly decorated with rosettes alternating with cross-hatchings and just below that the horizontal ornamentation of gilt rope twine binding some type of linear striped pole. The broad flat Bronzed base below rests on solid block feet. A Sotheby’s sticker is attached to the case, but not seen.
Dial – This is a thick cast gilt brass dial with Roman hours in round white porcelain cartouche from, each hour surrounded by foliate forms in base relief. There is no evidence of a Brocot aperture at twelve for changing the speed of the movement (that is good because it came into common usage in France circa 1860). There are fenestrated steel trefoil hands.
Movement: Round solid brass plate movement connected with tubular pillars which are pinned at the back plate, anchor escapement, steel cut pinions, steel arbors, an outside countwheel and a silk thread type of pendulum suspension. Short pendulum rod with attached brass bob would hang from this suspension. The movement is spring powered, of eight-day duration and striking a large silvered bell on the hour and half hour. The movement, if signed, should be in the form of a medal won at a competition and hidden by the bell.
The case is in very good condition with wear to the gilding, especially on the back where the gilding is thinnest. My guess is that the underlying metal is brass, but would not be surprised if it is a white metal like spelter. It is not bronze. The dial is good but the porcelain numerals have chips, fractures and dirt. The metal parts of the dial are very good and the hands are likely original. The movement is appropriate for the middle of the 19th century and I assume the clock is functional.
EXAMPLES: (sold for $650 in 2019) (sold for $300 in 2019) (sold for $425 in 2016) (sold for $656 in 2018) (sold for $840 in 2014) (sold for $1600 in 2011) (sold for $2100 in 2017)
Yes, I could not find precisely like yours and I think you example would sell, totally unsigned, in a range of $1300-$1600 and if you find a clockmaker medallion behind the bell it would bring a price ranging between $1500 and $1800. Therefore, I am assigning it a value between $1300 and $1800, the lower value if unsigned and the higher, if signed. I do like the form and the sculpture very much, and I think this was a great pickup on your part to notice the Sotheby's sticker and realize that the clock had potential to be more highly valued than what you paid for it. Just guessing of course.
I hope that help you with the proper values for your aesthetically pleasing and most interesting example.
My best,

David renwick Oct 31, 16:41 UTC

To whom this may concern. I hope that this email is reaching the correct person. I had an additional question about the clock that you appraised for me. There was a symbol found on the Bell as you can see in the latest photo that I sent. Can you please tell me if this will able you to find out who the maker of the clock is thanks again best regards Dave Renwick

David Oct 31, 17:26 UTC

Hi Dave,
If you are referring to the tiny mark on the outside of the bell I cannot see it clearly but that might be the bell foundry mark which would have nothing to do with the maker of the clock, nor the movement.
The thing to do, when possible, is to unscrew the bell from its metal arm and photograph whatever you find on the back plate and send it to me. Also, when you get back to the actual clock perhaps you can look at the mark with a magnifying glass to see what that mark is. It could be a bell shaped since it is triangular.
Best regards,

David renwick Nov 04, 23:29 UTC

Actually I was referring to the B symbol that I just upload it. I guess the other photos were sent to you wrong I apologize for that. I was just wondering if this is a Bugatti symbol as I know he was a Furniture maker and silversmiths at one point. If this is true I was wondering if it would add value to the thanks again sorry for any confusion Dave

David Nov 05, 02:09 UTC

This photo of the underside of the bell never reached me until now, and I certainly see why you might connect it to Bugatti which looks somewhat similar, but no, this is a foundry mark probably from France or Switzerland, possibly Germany. England had bell foundries but they seemed to only use them in their home country. The only companies that marked clock bells were the foundries that made them. A clockmaker or retail firm never marked the bells. So, in my own mind this does not change anything.

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