View full screen - View 1 of Lot 49. A George III gilt-brass quarter striking musical automaton table clock for the Chinese market, William Hughes, London, circa 1775.
49

A George III gilt-brass quarter striking musical automaton table clock for the Chinese market, William Hughes, London, circa 1775

VAT reduced rate

Estimate:

30,000 - 50,000 GBP

A George III gilt-brass quarter striking musical automaton table clock for the Chinese market, William Hughes, London, circa 1775

A George III gilt-brass quarter striking musical automaton table clock for the Chinese market, William Hughes, London, circa 1775

Estimate:

30,000 - 50,000 GBP

Authenticity guarantee

What is guaranteed?

A George III gilt-brass quarter striking musical automaton table clock for the Chinese market, William Hughes, London, circa 1775


4¾-inch enamel dial with gilt hands and centre seconds, finely cast gilt rococo corners, the arch with a painted automaton scene of figures in 18th century costume parading in a rural landscape, the three train fusee and chain movement with deadbeat escapement, trip repeat quarter striking and playing a tune on a nest of eight bells every other hour or at will, the backplate engraved with foliate scrolls and signed Willm Hughes, London, the case with broken-arch top and flambeau urn finials above canted corners with floral swag mounts, scale side frets, the moulded base with tasselled drape and rosette mounts, on foliate bracket feet

37cm 14½in high

Enamel dial and hands in very good condition. Automaton scene has some minor paint losses and a very small feature (probably windmill blades) is missing but otherwise generally good. Movement is complete and running at cataloguing but it would benefit from a clean, service and overhaul, the music has been wrongly set up with the tune currently finishing part way through but this can be corrected during servicing. Case is in good condition throughout with the gilding rubbed in places, particularly to the edges. With a case key but no winder.


Please note that Condition 12 of the Conditions of Business for Buyers (Online Only) is not applicable to this lot.


"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. All dimensions in catalogue descriptions are approximate. Condition reports may not specify mechanical replacements or imperfections to the movement, case, dial, pendulum, separate base(s) or dome. Watches in water-resistant cases have been opened to examine movements but no warranties are made that the watches are currently water-resistant. Please note that we do not guarantee the authenticity of any individual component parts, such as wheels, hands, crowns, crystals, screws, bracelets and leather bands, since subsequent repairs and restoration work may have resulted in the replacement of original parts. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue. In particular, please note it is the purchaser's responsibility to comply with any applicable import and export matters, particularly in relation to lots incorporating materials from endangered species.NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."


**Please be advised that bands made of materials derived from endangered or otherwise protected species (i.e. alligator and crocodile) are not sold with the watches and are for display purposes only. We reserve the right to remove these bands prior to shipping."

William Hughes is recorded as being in business at High Holborn, London from 1766 and is particularly known for the watches and clocks that he supplied for the Far East market. Working outside the City of London he was able to trade without being a member of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers but he was obviously highly regarded by the Company and was made an honorary Freeman in 1781.  He took a number of apprentices, including Thomas Earnshaw the famous chronometer maker, who succeeded him in business at 119 High Holborn on his retirement in 1784. William Hughes died in 1792.

This attractive clock bears all of the hallmarks of one of the slightly earlier clocks made for the Chinese market in the third quarter of the 18th century. The enamel dial with centre seconds and a rear-wound movement, all essential features of such clocks, combine seamlessly with a very European automaton scene in the arch of the dial plate. The case, in this instance, is almost pure English neo-classicism except that it is executed entirely in gilt-brass, specifically for its intended market.  Of small scale, this charming piece provides a transitional snapshot in the development of English musical automaton clocks for the Chinese market