PITTSFIELD, Mass. – An E. Howard & Company No. 47 wall-hanging astronomical regulator clock – one of only three examples known and so rare it doesn’t even appear in the E. Howard catalog – soared to a record price of $356,950 at Fontaine’s Auction Gallery’s clock and watch auction held Nov. 22-23 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. It was the sale’s top lot.
The previous record for an E. Howard clock (set about a year ago, also at Fontaine’s),
was $277,300, for a No. 68 astronomical floor clock. The current record-holder is listed in the E. Howard archives, as clock #122, a “No. 47 wall hanging.”
The two-day, three-session auction kicked off on Saturday morning, Nov. 22, with a 100-lot discovery auction, followed by a cataloged sale dedicated entirely to more than 425 antique and collector clocks. The Sunday, Nov. 23 session featured watches, fobs and chains. In all, more than 700 lots came up for bid in a sale that grossed more than $1.5 million.
The auction was packed with seldom-offered examples by makers such as 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 & Company, Sessions, LeCoultre and, of course, E. Howard & Company, the 19th century Boston maker coveted by collectors.
Following are additional highlights from the auction. All prices quoted include the 21 percent buyer’s premium.
The second top lot was also an E. Howard: a No. 25 drum head astronomical regulator that went for $121,000. The clock, 79 inches tall, featured a 14-inch silvered bronze astronomical dial signed “E. Howard & Co. Makers, Boston, Patented May 11, 1858.” The original walnut case had a round “drum head” top and the arched front door’s original glass exposed the clock’s pendulum and beat indicator.
A George A. Jones (N.Y.) astronomical regulator, 92 inches tall and housed in a carved walnut case with a maiden’s head on the crest, burled panels and large teardrop finials, changed hands for $72,600. The clock featured an original 16-inch painted metal astronomical dial, good original hands, a quality brass 8-day weight-driven time-only movement with pyramid plates and deadbeat escapement.
A Seth Thomas No. 8 office calendar clock, 63 inches tall in a large, attractive case with a missing canopy top, carved corner finials over turned-corner columns and raised beveled panels, realized $42,350. The clock had the original 14-inch painted metal dial, with black Roman hour numerals, black spade hands and sub-seconds dial. The 8-day brass weight-driven time-only movement was signed Seth Thomas.
A rare and unusual French industrial animated torpedo clock, mounted on a green onyx base alongside a compass and barometer, fetched $39,325. The clock’s silvered torpedo-shaped case had gilt brass trimmings and a 2 1/2-inch silvered dial with black Roman numerals. The brass time-only movement with platform lever escapement was in good working order. A separate movement ran the propeller.
A scarce animated and musical figural clock with a monkey wearing French attire and
playing the violin gaveled for $16,940. Displayed under a glass dome, in an unusual painted papier-mâché and carved wood case, the monkey figure was seen seated under a tree and his head and eyes moved as he played his instrument. The round French brass spring-driven movement was signed “Japy Freres.”
The star lot of the watch session was a Mathey Tissot perpetual split chronograph repeater 14-karat yellow gold open face pocket watch that wowed the crowd for $22,990. The watch, in excellent working condition, had 56 round cut diamonds on the bezel and a chronograph start, stop and reset button on the crown. The two-tone metal dial and movement were signed “Mathey Tissot, Swiss.”
Fontaine’s Auction Gallery is seeking quality consignments for future sales. To consign an item, estate or collection, call 413-448-8922 and ask for John Fontaine, or e-mail email@example.com. Fontaine’s has six auctions scheduled for the first half of 2015. Learn more about Fontaine’s Auction Gallery and the firm’s calendar of upcoming events at www.FontainesAuction.com.