c.1840 French Animated Conjuror Clock.

Collections > Sold
c.1840 French Animated Conjuror Clock.
Inv. #: p158

Jacques François  – Clockmaker

L. Hennert – Bronzer


Rare French Animated Conjuror Clock by Jacques François Houdin. When activated by the clock or manually the magician nods his head while doing a version of the ‘cup and ball’ trick.


The extremely well-cast and finished ormolu and patinated bronze case has elaborate mounts that include feeding birds amongst scrolling foliage to the front corners, a two piece decorative scalloped molding, winged dragons flanking a grotesque mask below and above an oriental magician in traditional garb standing behind a table draped with a fringed carpet and adorned with decorative 6 pointed stars. The polished side of the case is stamped by the bronzer, ‘L. Hennert’.


The engraved silvered dial has Roman numerals for the hours, a sunken center, steel-cut Breguet-style hands and a decorative ormolu bezel with intertwined snakes above and a winged dragon below. It is stamped on the backside ‘3532’.


The eight-day time and strike movement has a silk-thread suspension with the fast/slow out the front, a lift-arm off the backplate to activate the animation above and is stamped, ‘3532, 206’


The animation movement is mounted above under the table and has thick plates, well-cut and finished wheel-work and is wound and manually activated off the backplate. The small cylinders that carry the items used in the ball and cup trick sit in a revolving brass wheel. When the movement is activated, either at the hour by the clock or manually, the wheel rotates 180 degrees stopping at each notch to allow the items to be raised into position and then lowered again. The front plate is stamped ‘3532’.


Jacques François Houdin, 1783-1860, was an eminent French maker who started his career in Blois where his reputation led him to A.L.Breguet’s shop in 1820 where he worked until Breguet’s death in 1823. He was recognized as one of the finest makers of precision timepieces and also established a wholesale business from premises located on Rue de Harley in Paris. His future son-in-law, Robert-Houdin, joined him in 1830, but moved out in 1831 to establish his own workshop at 78 Rue Vieilledu-Temple. During this period JF Houdin was semi-retired, but backed and helped Robert-Houdin with his creations that were inspired by his love of magic and conjuring. He was forced back to work when his savings were nearly lost by a notary and spent the rest of his working career collaborating with Robert-Houdin and the noted clockmaker C. Detouche on many noteworthy projects.

The vast majority of the parts of the clock are either stamped or inscribed with the number ‘3532’.

For additional videos on this and other clocks in our stock visit our You tube page at Sundial Farm.



For a similar example see: ‘Mystery, Novelty and Fantasy Clocks’ by Roberts, pg. 232.



Size: 19.5 in.
Retail Price: $ 48,000.

For more information, Please contact us.

Tel: 631-757-9521
Email: info@sundialfarm.com

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