c.1850 French ormolu triple mystery clock by the eminent maker Robert-Houdin. The movement is housed in the top portion of the base and the power is transferred to the time and hour hands through the griffins, glass tube and glass dial.
The griffins are mounted to the decorative top plate of the elaborately decorated double base that houses the movement and support the glass tube and dial assemblies.
The multi-glass dial has Roman numerals for the hours, an inner graduated chapter ring and extremely fine hour and minute hands.
The eight-day time and strike movement has a balance platform with a lever escapement, is housed below the griffins and is wound and set out the back. The backplate carries the trade stamp of Japy Freres with the dates 1844 and 1849.
Robert-Houdin was a master at creating horological mysteries by cleverly concealing the transfer of power from the movement to the hands. Derek Roberts in his book ‘Mystery, Novelty and Fantasy Clocks’ creates six categories that he refers to as ‘series’ for the Robert-Houdin type mystery clocks with each ‘series’ based on a new ingenious mystery. It is often assumed that they followed a straight forward chronological arch beginning in about 1837 with each new innovative design being conceived and produced simultaneously in subsequent years. As the exhibition piece we recently sold proved, Robert-Houdin had already worked out almost all the mysteries by 1838/39 and simply produced new series based on different mysteries as the public lost interest in the previous ones.
For a much more in depth history of Robert-Houdin see: ‘Mystery, Novelty & Fantasy Clocks’ by Derek Roberts, Chapter 19.
24 in. high
8.5 in. wide
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