Lot 2
  • 2

A gilt-metal quarter striking astronomical table clock, Augsburg, circa 1600

120,000 - 180,000 GBP
158,500 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Copper, brass, steel, enamel
4¼-inch principal dial with silvered chapter ring numbered I-XII twice and enclosing an astrolabe with named stars and zodiac ring, engraved reversible typanum for latitudes 45 and 48 degrees, dragon hand, two small subsidiary dials above for twelve/twenty four hour striking and regulation, the lower corners with larger dials for Dominical letter and Epact number and alarm setting and indication, the opposite side with 4¾-inch reversible calendar ring engraved with saints for every day of the year and enclosing a minute ring , hour dial engraved I-IIX twice and, at the centre, shutters indicating day length hand-set subsidiary dials to the upper corners, on the lower corners dials for day of the week and position of the sun within the zodiac, the sides with dials recording the hour and quarter striking, all subsidiary dials silvered and with polychrome enamel decoration, the gilt-brass posted three train fusee movement with re-instated verge and balance wheel escapement, striking on two bells and with alarm acting on the larger bell, a further later striking train mounted within the base, the case surmounted by an eagle, obelisk and turned finials above a pierced gallery containing the bells, the front and sides with foliate decoration above hunting scenes, the interior with the Augsburg pineapple mark to both sides, the moulded flared base with later turned feet


Emil Weinberger, Vienna (his sale: Wawra, Vienna, 1929);
A.S. Drey, Munich (acquired at the above sale; their forced sale: Paul Graupe, Berlin, 17th-18th June 1936, lot 187, illustrated in the catalogue);
Dr. Eugen Gschwind, Basel;
Joseph Fremersdorf, Lucerne;
Landesmuseum Württemberg, Stuttgart (acquired from the above in 1973);
Restituted to the A.S. Drey heirs in 2012


Ernst von Basserman-Jordan, The Book of Old Clocks and Watches, 1964, Pg. 82, Fig.54
Richard Mühe & Horand M Vogel, Alte Uhren, pg. 58
Klaus Maurice, Die Deutsche Räderuhr, Part II, Item 194 a & b
Andrea Schaller, Württembergisches Landesmuseum, Stuttgart, Prunkuhren der Renaissance, Item 8, pgs.43-45

Catalogue Note

The European portable clock was not invented but developed as a progression from late medieval weight-driven domestic wall clocks. Likewise, the art of clockmaking developed from other trades such as that of blacksmith and locksmith and, in the sixteenth Century was finally recognised as a craft in its own right. The creation of clockmaking guilds in South Germany protected the interests of clockmakers and drove the quality of workmanship to hitherto unseen levels of finesse.

Whilst the region encompassing Vienna in the east to Munich and Nuremburg in the west dominated domestic clockmaking in the sixteenth Century, the town of Augsburg itself dominated that region. The Augsburg Clockmakers' Guild strictly controlled the making of clocks and the makers themselves. Demanding the creation of a complicated masterpiece before a permission to work independently was granted, the Guild inadvertently created a market for clocks which were both highly complicated but also highly decorative.

This clock, though unsigned, is a particularly fine example and includes all of the qualities required for a masterpiece clock in both complications and decoration. The attention to detail in the decorative steelwork within the movement, seen only by those accessing the interior of the case, is just one example of the supreme level of craftsmanship achieved at this early date. Examples of clocks with very similar cases can be seen in the Science Museum, London and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.