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.
There was an even older clock that was on the stage directly behind the auctioneer.
It was an 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. 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 a strange thing, but it happens to me all the time.
Two weeks ago I was admiring this Comtoise clock. 
It is a dollhouse miniature, and for sale on ETSY.  
I was shocked when I saw it and loved that some miniaturist
knew about these clocks and had made a tiny Comtoise clock!

I was toying with the idea of buying it for my French dollhouse,
as often I like to put things inside it I will never have in real life...
But then I got distracted with life and Reeve or whatever,
and forgot about it. And then look what happened.
A real Comtoise clock came along!
For me its a clear sign the universe is listening.
And I am paying attention!!

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