Monday, February 24, 2020

A Fancy French Comtoise Clock

A French  Comtoise clock has long been on my radar as an object of desire.
The Comtoise clock, also known as a Morbier or Morez clock is a longcase
clock made in France on the French-Swiss border in the Jura region.
These clocks were made from the late 1600s to the late 1800s
when they were most prolific.  My clock is dated from the 1860s,
and they are easy to date based upon the details of
the clock's appearance.
This book's cover gives a quick overview from the earliest to the latest clock
face styles.  My Comtoise has the surrounding brass repousee work. 
The long two piece pendulum is brass repousee featuring an urn with flowers and grapevine
leaves with grapes and wheat.  These two parts fit inside of a long case that would
have been made by a farmer or local craftsmen to hold the clockworks. Eventually
little factories sprung up that took over the making of these clocks putting the farmers
out of business.   They are distinctive clocks and once you become aware of them
you may be captured by their unique beauty, as I was.
My clock comes with a long case and the weights,
the pendulum and the face with the clock works intact.
At least this is what I expected to find at the auction house 
based on the photo of it in the catalogue. 
But in reality it was looking like a bit of a wreck as it was 
disassembled and kind of pulled apart, 
leaning against a cabinet very unceremoniously. 
You can see the pendulum also leaning by itself next to the cabinet. 
 I pointed it out excitedly to my husband,
who did not share my enthusiasm. At all.  
But he didn't know about the Comtoise, never even heard of it.
And since he was unaware, how could he be as excited as I was to find this special
clock waiting for its forever owner....of this century anyway.
I asked him if he could help me put it together if I bought it.  
"No. You are on your own." He said rather abruptly,
kind of unlike him to speak in absolutes about a dream of mine.
Hmmmm.....well it didn't look THAT complicated to me.  

After all, look at how gorgeous these clocks are!!!
This one is already sold, but LOOK at how special it is!

The face of my clock was sitting on top of a dresser around the corner from
where the case was.  It would just be like putting together a puzzle.
The thing fits inside a wooden head part of the tall case, like this one.

Here is another spectacular Comtoise,
assembled in all it's glory. 
You can search for them and they are out there!!

All unique, and made centuries ago!

And yet another Comtoise on sale at Chairish's website.
Finding the parts still with a case that has survived is pretty special.
Many of these clocks are just hung with the face and the pendulum 
which swings freely, without being inside the case.
They just hang on the wall, and their beauty is not to be denied.
So the fact that my clock cabinet was not looking majestic didn't bother
,me one bit.  I was lucky to even have a cabinet for it if I could buy it.

So what happened next was that we were both sitting at the auction
and I told hubs, if this goes low enough I am going to get it.
He didn't respond.  
I told him how special these clocks were. Again.
Then time passed and he said he was going to get something to eat
in the back room, where they have food for people like us who 
sit for hours at the auction. 
And just like that, not a minute after he left, the Comtoise clock
came up for auction! 
It was mislabeled in the catalogue as a different kind of clock.
Which made me happy, as I knew the secret. 
 And that would keep other Comtoise hunters off the trail. 
However  the auctioneer realized this and noted at the beginning, 
saying "well this is a French clock....where should we
start the bidding?"
And I waited and waited as he dropped the price by $50 dollar increments.
No one in the room or on the phone was interested in bidding.

And just like that my paddle went up when he said "$200?"

YES PLEASE my insides were SCREAMING
and my outsides had my fingers and toes crossed until the gavel went down.
No one contested my bid!
Amy Chalmers owned a Comtoise Clock!!
And then hubs returned with his snack unaware of the magic I was experiencing.
 I waited two minutes, letting it soak in....and then I pointed to the catalogue listing and said quietly,
"I bought it" and smiled.
He kind of rolled his eyes.  But what he did next astonished me.
This was an even older clock that was on the stage directly behind the auctioneer.
It is early 17th century American clock with a name signed in the brass face dial.
It came up for bidding.
Then hubs picked up our paddle and bid on it!!

"SOLD" to paddle number 367. 
I laughed and he smiled. 
 My husband continues to surprise me in all the best ways.
I whispered  "we now have HIS AND HERS antique grandfather clocks"

And of course we have the antique Swedish Mora clock
and a tiny Swedish Mora clock
and the wonderful German Cuckoo clock....
so there will be a lot of clocks at the Lakehouse. 

That is all I know for sure. 
One last thing. kind of strange thing, but it happens to me all the time.
Two weeks ago I was admiring this Comtoise clock. 
It is a miniature, and for sale on ETSY.  
But now I can't find it....anyway 
I was toying with the idea of buying it for my French dollhouse.
But then I got distracted with life and Reeve or whatever,
and forgot about it. For me its a clear sign the universe is listening.
And I am paying attention!!

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Saturday, January 11, 2020

Antique Corner Cupboard and New Years

Right before New Years Eve hubs and I went to an auction and bought a cupboard.
Not that we were planning to or even going for anything in particular.
It was a spur of the moment decision.
 I did mention to him that this auction had antique firearms.  
Hehe, I knew that would catch his interest and sure enough he wanted to go! 
But what surprised me most was how much other stuff caught his interest.  
 While I had quickly looked around and settled into my seat to listen to the auctioneer,
hubs was walking around checking everything out in great detail, 
 then coming back to me to ask did I see this thing or that?  
 He was on a hunt and it turned out he was interested in anything bronze.
 Statues that is. See him looking down over there??
 He was checking out these cute Corgi dogs, a bronze statue by artist 
Elizabeth Leary Strazzulla of Orleans, Massachusetts.
And then he asked if I had noticed the enormous life size Indian and eagle statue.
WHAT?? Why in the world do we want or need that I wondered?
  Where is that going to go?
In New Hampshire at the lake, he replied....
ok... well I guess I could try to imagine it....
and that was only the beginning.  
We would have to wait for it to come up and then bid on it,
and hope it wouldn't be too high.  
I had noticed things like this old tin weathervane which I could imagine
going on the top of our not yet built barn/garage. 
I guess one gets attracted to things for whatever reason....I was 
still processing his attraction to all the statues.
Then I rounded the corner and saw it. 
 The enormous and old corner cupboard. 
 The listing said it was "an important early 18th century 
cabinet" and it certainly was important looking to me.
It looked very old, with lots of carvings and the interior 
was painted with a turquoise color that was appealing.
I can bet Martha has cabinets like this in her homes!
I thought to myself, no one will want this thing.  Its too big!!
We will get it for the lake house!
 So I sat and waited for a few of our items to come up on the auction block.
Finally the big cupboard was up!!
Hubs whispered... Oh please. Don't.
 I continued to lift my paddle until I won.
Oh yes!! I won!! 
And that was that. It was coming home. 
 We went home with all the big things, 
like the Indian statue (bronze but painted white).
And some French barstools, and an antique fish service, 
some big blue and white transferware platters.... 
 And the enormous cabinet!!

 When we checked the measurement of the cupboard I was nervous to see that the cupboard 
was the same height as our ceiling. But it fit like a glove, with the help of our son Justin.
It was meant to be...for now. It belongs at the lake, and in that house our ceilings will be 
a foot higher, so it will fit without any worry at all.
 We bought a few tables, a game table, a dresser, the corgis, 
and another crazy big statue too....
This pretty demilune table with gorgeous carvings came home with us.
Y,a we bought a lot of antique stuff!! And it was sooo much fun!!
These are full size bronze statues out of a Malibu CA estate that someone painted.  
Why my husband wanted these is something I can't answer, but I can tell you it was
very funny when he was bidding on them.  At least I thought it was funny! 
I whispered to him, we are going to be known as "those people" when our neighbors
at the lake see these things on our property.  Haha. I will do my best to hide
them in the shrubbery or behind trees. 
 For now our auction treasures are in our Massachusetts home, waiting for the lake.
Its been so much fun to fill the cabinet with my antique collections
of majolica and transfer ware into the cabinet.
 It was all part of what turned out to be a very fun way to ring in the New Year. 
Before we headed out, I learned how to saber the champagne,
which means cut the neck off the bottle with a "saber" or knife.
You use the back of the knife blade, not the sharp part.
It cuts it clean off!!
 There are a few secrets, and one is to put the champagne
bottle upside down in the ice bucket to freeze the neck first. Then reposition the
casket around the cork to above the bottle ridge neckline, and as you cut it off,
to move the saber up the bottle along the molded glass line of the bottle. 
 It was thrilling!
We had reservations to enjoy dinner
in Boston's historic North End with our youngest and a good friend,
 then headed to Ciao Bella in North Square next to the Paul Revere house
to meet Justin who was working to celebrate some more.
 We capped the night off with more champagne and oysters.
What a treat!
In closing I hope you all had a nice New Years Eve.
We usually spend NYE low key, so this was especially fun and memorable.
 Wishing all a great 2020!! 
 Our family looks forward to many changes this year. 
Building a new home and then moving to the lake 
as our youngest (who, might I brag, just got straight A's in his first senior term)
graduates from Boston Latin School and then heads off to college,
leaving us as empty nesters for the first time. 
The next phase of life has arrived for us Chalmers!
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