PITTSFIELD, MASS. — An E. Howard & Company No. 68 floor standing astronomical regulator clock, descending over the course of many decades from the original family, sold for $277,300 at an antique clock auction conducted on November 23 by Fontaine’s Auction Gallery. It was a new world auction record for an E. Howard clock, shattering the old record set in November 2012 of $230,100, also at Fontaine’s.
The E. Howard No. 68 was the top lot in an auction that saw 370 rare and important clocks from several prominent collections come up for bid. Overall, the auction grossed more than $1 million. “The best items in this auction went well beyond our expectations, with new clients participating at every level,” said John Fontaine, owner of Fontaine’s Auction Gallery. “Fine examples of rare clocks are at the highest selling point I can remember over the course of my 40 years in the industry.”
Of the top ten earners, three were E. Howards, a testament to the Boston-based brand’s star power among bidders seeking only the finest in antique timepieces. In addition to the No. 68 model, a No. 25 drum head astronomical regulator brought $94,400, and a No. 74 astronomical observatory regulator made $41,300.
The No. 68 standing astronomical regulator, however, was the undisputed champ of the sale. The 105-inch-tall carved walnut case with a figural maidens head crest and #2 gravity escapement movement was ordered from E. Howard & Company on March 24, 1884. It was delivered to the great grandfather of the consignor in Stamford, Conn., on April 18, 1884.
Approximately 1,750 total bidders participated live in the gallery, by telephone, on the Internet and absentee.
Two clocks with magnificent cases attributed to the renowned Nineteenth Century American cabinet maker R.J. Horner both did well. The first was a nine-tube grandfather clock, 107 inches tall and with the original finish at $44,250. The brass weight-driven eight-day movement was by Bawo & Dotter (N.Y.) and the case was heavily and beautifully carved.
The second was another grandfather clock, this one 105 inches tall, with brass movement strikes on five silvered tubes signed “Walter H. Durfee” and signed “Tiffany & Co.” on a silvered plaque. The clock, which brought $23,600, featured a silvered chapter ring with applied brass Arabic hour numbers and a serpentine form case with broken arch crest.
Returning to the E. Howards, the No. 25 drum head astronomical regulator that gaveled for $94,400 was 75 inches high. The 14-inch silvered bronze astronomical dial had black incised five-minute numbers and was signed “E. Howard & Co., Makers, Boston.” The No. 25 case showed a round “drum head” top.
The No. 74 astronomical observatory regulator that hit $41,300 was 60 inches tall. The 12-inch silvered bronze astronomical dial was signed E. Howard and numbered 305. The brass, weight-driven movement featured Graham deadbeat escapement with jeweled pallets, Geneva stop and maintaining power, and was also signed E. Howard & Co.
An inlaid rosewood Vienna regulator rose to $25,370. The 9½-inch inset porcelain dial had black Roman hour numerals and was signed “Jacob Weber.” The 73-inch rosewood case had a pierce-carved floral and filigree crest and corner finials.
A French figural three graces annular clock with a white marble base having a fluted pedestal topped with an urn, with dore bronze handles and trim, 26 inches tall, realized $17,700.
A Gothic triple fusee Whittington chime and bell skeleton clock with two pierced brass cathedral-shaped plates and a silvered 8-inch chapter ring with black incised Roman numerals coasted to $16,250. The clock, signed “Bennett, London” on a metal tag and perched on a white marble base, was 23 inches tall overall, with original fusee chains and recoil escapement.
A Herschedes pattern 140 mahogany 9-tube grandfather clock, 106 inches tall, with blue pierced hands, silvered chapter ring with brass Arabic numerals and Westminster/Whittington subdials, went for $11,800. The clock had a Graham deadbeat escapement and was signed with the Herschedes trademark.
A Kroeber No. 25 hanging pinwheel jeweler’s regulator found a new owner for $10,620. The clock, 98 inches tall, had a 12-inch porcelain dial with black Roman hour numerals, open moon hands, sweep second hand and a gilt brass bezel. The carved walnut No. 25 wall hanging case had a carved maiden’s head.
Prices reported include the buyer’s premium.
Fontaine’s next big event will be a cataloged antique auction slated for Saturday, January 11, at 11 am. For information, 413-448-8922 or www.FontainesAuction.com.