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Scarce astronomical clocks may command more than $300K

Two seldom-seen E. Howard & Company regulator clocks will cross the auction block Nov. 14 at Fontaine's, and they may realize $300K together.
Howard regulator clock

E. Howard & Company No. 43 Howard astronomical regulator clock, housed in a beautiful carved walnut floor standing case (est. $150,000-$200,000). (All photos courtesy Fontaine's)

PITTSFIELD, Mass. – Two rare and highly desirable E. Howard & Company (Boston) astronomical floor regulator clocks (a No. 43 and a No. 68) could conceivably combine to sell for $300,000 or more at Fontaine's Auction Gallery's big two-session clock and antique auction slated for Saturday, November 14th, in the firm's gallery at 1485 Housatonic Street in Pittsfield.

The No. 43 Howard clock, 105 inches tall, has a 14-inch reverse painted glass astronomical dial with a sweep minute hand and five-hour numbers, housed in a beautiful carved walnut floor standing case with shell carved crest over a figural maiden's head (est. $150,000-$200,000).

The No. 68 clock, also 105 inches tall, features the original 14-inch painted metal dial, signed “E. Howard & Co.”, with a case in superb original finish but with a replaced crest (est. $75,000-$125,000). Both clocks boast brass eight-day, weight-driven, time only signed movements.

The action will get underway at 11 a.m. Eastern time, featuring more than 475 items with live, internet, phone and absentee bidding. Internet bidding will be facilitated by three platforms:, and

Clocks from several prominent collections will come up for bid, with examples by E. Howard & Co., Seth Thomas, Ansonia, Ithaca, Elmer O. Stennes, Foster Campos, Chelsea, Atkins, Walter Durfee, J.J. Elliot, Waltham, William Gilbert, F. Kroeber, New Haven, Waterbury, Eli Terry, E.N. Welch, E. Ingraham, Tiffany & Co., Sessions and LeCoultre.

Also sold will be English, French silk thread, industrial, mystery, annular and animated clocks, plus watches, chronometers, barometers and related accessories. The auction will not be dedicated exclusively to horology and timepieces, however. Also sold will be silver, paintings, furniture, estate jewelry and lamps by renowned makers such as Tiffany, Pairpoint, Handel and Duffner & Kimberly.

In addition to the Howards, one other clock in the sale has the pedigree that could launch it into the six figures. It's a Chinese triple fusee animated bracket clock with 6-inch porcelain dial and black Roman hour numerals (est. $75,000-$125,000). The animated mechanism has horizontal and vertical rods simulating falling rain, plus carved wood acrobats that appear and disappear.

A George Jones (N.Y.) astronomical regulator with a 17-inch silvered dial with Roman hour numerals and top-quality brass 8-day weight-driven, time-only astronomical movement, all in a massive, heavily carved, floor-standing case, should bring $60,000-$80,000; and an oak R. J. Horner 9-tube grandfather clock with 12-inch silvered dial signed “Tiffany & Co.” and an arched silvered moon phase dial signed “Walter H. Durfee” (R.I.), should hammer for $15,000-$25,000.

A bronze animated locomotive industrial clock with a case in the form of a steam locomotive on a

Silver samovar

Russian silver samovar (urn used for hot water), 19 inches tall, carrying the hallmark for Mikhail Ovchinnikov and weighing186 troy ounces (est. $10,000-$15,000).

black marble base with gilt rails, a stick thermometer, a compass, an aneroid barometer and wheels that are animated by a spring-driven movement mounted under the train, should realize $25,000-$35,000; and a French industrial animated steam engine clock in a tri-tone bronze and marble case and a dial signed “J.E. Caldwell & Co.” (Philadelphia) should hit $15,000-$25,000.

Tiffany table lamps are a staple at many Fontaine's auctions, and this sale has Tiffany Red Acorn table lamp with 16-inch domical shade having a geometric brick background colored a deep red and with a signed base and shade (est. $15,000-$25,000); and a Tiffany Gold Turtleback table lamp with an 18-inch shade, also with a geometric brick background, but with striated glass of fiery gold, all on a polished gilt bronze base signed “Tiffany Studios” (est. $25,000-$35,000).

A star lot of the estate jewelry category promises to be a massive Cartier platinum and pave set diamond ring in the form of a panther cat with its tail wrapped around to form a size 9 ring band, and with a black onyx nose and emerald green eyes (est. $25,000-$30,000). Fans of silver will be impressed with the Russian silver samovar (urn used for hot water), 19 inches tall, carrying the hallmark for Mikhail Ovchinnikov and weighing a stout 186 troy ounces (est. $10,000-$15,000).

The fine art category will feature a lovely portrait of a young woman with flowers in her hair and clutching a rose, attributed to Jean-Marc Nattier (Fr., 1685-1766), in the frame 36 inches by 30 ½ inches (est. $15,000-$25,000); and a relief bronze figural nude statue by the French artist Aristide Maillol (1861-1944), 9 ½ inches tall, with an excellent light-brown patina and with the monogram mark “M” and foundry signature “C. Valsuani” (est. $10,000-$15,000).

Returning to clocks, a ward room clock in a forged brass case by the Chelsea Clock Company (Boston), having a 12-inch silvered metal dial signed “Tiffany & Company” and featuring a hinged door bezel, original glass and excellent polished gilt brass surface, is expected to garner $15,000-$20,000; and a glass dial mystery clock by Robert Houdin, made circa 1830 and in fine condition, should make $10,000-$15,000. Houdin was renowned as a clockmaker (he invented the mystery clock) and a magician. The great Harry Houdini based his stage name on Houdin's.

A pair of French clocks each carries a pre-sale estimate of $10,000-$15,000. One is a Planchon (Paris) bronze one-hand sector clock with a square brass spring-driven movement signed “A.D. Mougin, Paris” and housed in an excellent heavy bronze case with filigree and ribbon crest. The other is a figure annular clock with standing gilt bronze nude female figures depicting “The 3 Graces,” holding up a large sphere with seated putti bronze finial, on a nice white marble base.

Previews will be held on Friday, November 13th, from 10-5, and Saturday, November 14th, the date of sale, from 8 a.m. until the gavel falls at 11 a.m. in the first cataloged session. See the website for terms and conditions:

For more information about the company and the upcoming Saturday, Nov. 14th auction, please visit, call 413-448-8922 or email

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