The missionary Valentine Chalier wrote in 1736: “As for clocks, the Imperial palace is stuffed with them……there must be more than 4000 from the best masters of Paris and London…”
The ‘Chinese market’ clock offered at Bellmans in Billingshurst on May 12 had been a valuation day consignment from a local private vendor.
Ian White, author of English Clocks for the Eastern Markets (2012), catalogued the lot, attributing it to William Carpenter who worked at various addresses in Soho, London from 1778 until retirement in 1817. He worked with James Cox on the production of his complex automata clocks and was a frequent customer of the clockmakers Thwaites & Reed, with 50 ‘jobs’ noted in their account books.
Four other clocks are known with the same 12in (30cm) high ormolu case designs, set with Geneva enamel panels, paste and a surmounting ‘jewelled’ vase, two of which are signed by Carpenter.
The musical clockwork and automata to this discovery were working, although the clock movement was not the original and had been replaced by a mid-19th century Swiss watch movement for the timekeeping.
Nevertheless, estimated at £7000-10,000, it sold to a buyer on thesaleroom.com for £34,000 (plus 22% buyer’s premium).