DescriptionJean Eugene Robert-Houdin, Paris, Very Rare & Important Victorian Gilt Bronze & Glass Striking Mystery Clock, circa 1850
Case: measures 20 inches (50.8 cm) high, the dial on foliate cast supports and ovolo molding above the glass cylindrical column to a spreading foot supported by four mythical creatures, gilt wood base with foliate engraving, velvet lined platform, ebonised wood base measuring 7 1/4 x 4 1/2 inches
Dial: transparent glass dial in brass bezel measuring 5 inches, reverse painted black Roman numerals and inner minute track, single ormolu arrow form hand
Movement: No. 96, brass, round, front plate signed Robert Houdin Paris, twin barrels, platform cylinder escapement, three arm balance wheel, the drive from the going train third wheel to a contrate wheel on the backplate with indirect bevel gear to the base of the glass stem driving an inner glass tube with connection at the dial stem to another indirect bevel gear driving an inner glass disc behind the main dial
Signed: dial and movement are signed Robert-Houdin, Paris
Note: Robert-Houdin was born Jean Eugene Robert in Blois, France, on December 6, 1805 and was not only a horological and mechanical genius but also a magician and illusionist of unprecedented talents, a master of magic. His father, Prosper Robert, was one of the best watchmakers in Blois. He moved to Paris and worked in the main watchmaker's shop, while still practicing magic.
On July 3, 1845, Robert-Houdin premiered his 200-seat theatre in what he called "Soirees antastiques" and continued to practice and entertain with his magic. Some of his major achievements for his magic were the famous illusions, Second Sight, The Ethereal Suspension and The Marvelous Orange Tree.
When Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin first showed his mystery clocks to the public during the late 1830's, they were astounded to see that they appeared to work by magic since the hands were seemingly suspended within a transparent glass dial and unattached to any mechanism, yet they still told the time. The infinite mystery still continues to astonish all who marvel at their ingenuity even when one understands their mechanics.
Robert-Houdin gave his last public performance at the Grand Theatre in Marseille and returned to his home in Saint'Gervais where he retired. During his retirement years he wrote his memoirs, Confidences d'un Prestidigitateur. Robert-Houdin died on June 13, 1871 at age 65.
Type: Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin, Paris, Very Rare & Important Victorian Gilt Bronze & Glass Striking Mystery Clock
Dial: glass, brass bezel, 5 inch diameter
Hands; single ormolu arrow hand
Metal: gilt bronze
Case Info: bronze, brass, glass, wood base with velvet
Case Length: base is 7 1/4 x 4 1/2 inches, 20 inches high
Watch Movement: No. 96, brass, round, front plate signed Robert Houdin Paris, twin barrels, platform cylinder escapement, three arm balance wheel, the drive from the going train third wheel to a contrate wheel on the backplate with indirect bevel gear to the base of the glass stem driving an inner glass tube with connection at the dial stem to another indirect bevel gear driving an inner glass disc behind the main dial
Condition: overall condition is very good, movement will need servicing and cleaning, ticking and striking now but sluggish and it stops, hand does move when the gear is rotated, rod from the indirect bevel gear in the base not currently connected, see photos for details
*Heritage Auctions strongly encourages in-person inspection of items by the bidder. Statements by Heritage regarding the condition of objects are for guidance only and should not be relied upon as statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty, or assumption of liability by Heritage. All lots offered are sold "AS IS".
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