The necessaire with timepiece is a good example of objects exported to the Far East from England during the second half of the 18th century. The difficulty of finding acceptable goods with which to trade with China, and the Chinese Imperial fascination with complicated automaton clocks, stimulated English watch and clockmakers to produce many imaginative creations. For other examples of Cox’s pieces, see Sotheby’s London, October 8, 1993, lot 203.
A similar piece was sold at Sotheby’s May 2011, lot 113 by James Ransom, London.
For an extensive account of James Cox’s life and work, see Ian White, English Clocks for the Eastern Markets, Great Britain, 2012 Chapters 5-7, pp.94-207 with illustrations throughout, also see Alfred Chapuis & Edouard Gélis, Le Monde des Automates, Paris, 1928, vol. I, Ch. 8, pp. 223-273 & 250-259, Alfred Chapuis & Edmond Droz, Les Automates, Neuchatel, 1958, Ch. 5, pp. 99-123, Clare Le Corbeiller, “James Cox: A
Biographical Review”, The Burlington Magazine, cxii, 1970, pp. 351-358.