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Moser Inkwell Clock with Chaff-cutter Escapement

Moser Paris Inkwell Clock.jpg

This small inkwell clock is both a lovely and historically important piece as it is ties together a number of aspects of my research into a group of previously unrecorded French makers of the period. The rear of the dial, the mainspring and the inside of the movement are all signed by the relevant parties who are instrumental in the manufacture of this clock, along with the retailers name to the dial and backplate, and it is fitted with a well-known style of escapement.

The ten-day duration carriage clock movement strikes the hours and half-hours on a bell with an outside countwheel and is fitted with a chaff-cutter escapement as patented by Paul Garnier in 1830. The backplate is signed and numbered Moser à Paris 182 with the frontplate stamped with the initials and serial number H.L. 3280, being those which I have now identified as the blanc-roulant makers Holingue frères, Louis and Jean-Francois from the horological town of Saint Nicolas d'Aliermont near Dieppe in northern France. The Holingue family have a long relationship with both Georges Moser and Paul Garnier and were also an important part of the history of Drocourt. The dated mainspring is scratched with the name of the spring maker Borel jeune Mars 50, being Borel junior March 1850.

The white enamel dial has black Roman numerals and is signed either side of VI o'clock Moser à Paris with the rear of the dial having written in ink the name of the dialmaker Valat.

The small black lacquered case, with bow-shaped sides, is finely decorated with Oriental raised chinosiere work and has gilt-metal mounts and feet. The top has glass inwells either side of a gilt-metal urn with opening lid.

Height: 9½ inches (24cms)

Georges Moser was a retailer of both carriage clocks and inkwell clocks.

His entry in the Paris Almanch of 1853 reads:

Moser (Georges), fab d'horlogerie, spécialité de pendules de voyage, et inventeur de pendules à écritoire, en bronze, marbre, bois de rose, écaille et ébene, avec mouvement et échappement plus ou moins compliqués, marchant dix jours, balancier circulaire, boul. du Temple, 15.

Translated this reads: '...clockmaker, specialising in carriage clocks, and inventor of writing desk clocks, in bronze, marble, rosewood, tortoiseshell and ebony, with movement and escapement more or less complicated, running ten days, circular balance...'

This is most interesting as both Moser and Drocourt were supplied by Holingue frères at this time and Drocourt's entry in the Almanach of the same year reads:

Drocourt, fab d'horlogerie, spécialité de pendules de voyage, et pendules à écritoire, marbre et bronze, avec quantiemes perpetuals et échappement circulaire.

Translated this reads: '...clockmaker, specialising carriage clocks and writing desk clocks, marble & bronze, with perpetual calendars and circular balance...'

Alfred Drocourt went on to purchase the Holingue business and workshops in Saint Nicolas d'Aliermont in 1874, further information for which is available via the 2013 Drocourt Carriage Clock Exhibition Catalogue link above.

I have been undertaking research on the clocks, life and family of Georges Moser using source material and which is due for later publication.

In summary he was born in Switzerland in 1798 with his first known Paris address in 1823 being at Grenier St Lazare 18 becoming number 15 in 1825. He then moved to Boulevard du Temple 9 in 1836 where by 1840 he was in partnership with the well-known movement maker Samuel Marti from the horological region of Montbeliard in the south of France. They had a further address at Orleans-Marais 13. This was their registered address until 1843 when Moser is once again recorded working alone at Boulevard du Temple 9, moving in 1846 to number 24 and then again in 1850 to number 15. By 1860 the business was registered as et Cie and by 1863 there is no record of either him or his successors.

Paul Garnier was a pioneer of carriage clock production and took out a ten-year patent for the chaff-cutter escapement in 1830. I have made a study of the components used in his clocks and those seen with serial numbers between 1855 and 3104, from circa 1842, are all stamped H.L. to the frontplate and were therefore made in the Holingue frères workshops. This ties in with this clock being from their workshops and fitted with the chaff-cutter. Previous movements studied show similar attributes to these stamped examples and it can therefore be considered that a number of earlier pre-1842 movements were supplied to Garnier by the father of the Holingue brothers, Jean-Baptiste. He was a fine award-winning maker of blancs-roulants who I now know was working from circa 1820.

That the dial is signed Valat is also of great interest. This is a name often seen on the rear of dials from the Jacot workshops on clocks made in the 1860s and has been misrepresented in published material as reading Jacot, as in the dial being for an Henri Jacot clock. As such there was no prior research undertaken into Jean-Etienne Valat and his contribution to early carriage clock making until I started delving into him and his relationships with the makers of the period.

Further reading on Valat is available via the 2012 Jacot Exhibition Catalogue link above.

The mainspring is scratched Borel Jne 50 Mars for the spring-maker Borel Junior March 1850. This is most interesting as a Garnier carriage clock that I own, serial number 1649, has a mainspring with a similar scratched signature and is dated 1840. Names scratched on the mainsprings of Garnier clocks have been previously written about in an article by Charles Allix Paul Garnier Revisited published in the Spring 1993 edition of Antiquarian Horology, the journal of the Antiquarian Horological Society. Allix describes a spring found in Garnier carriage clock 797 as scratched with the inscription Burel jeune Avril 1836 a Paris, Mt 797. Allix had misread the name which actually reads Borel and as such any further research at the time of that article would prove somewhat fruitless as Burel as a spring maker doesn't exist.

For further information, including a full history of Borel, along with the relationships between Garnier, Holingue, Borel and Moser, click on the following link to read my article on the previously unrecorded Garnier carriage clock 1649:

Paul Garnier: An Attributable Carriage Clock.

The research shown here into the various makers involved in this clock is in the main previously unrecorded and has taken many months of work, so if used elsewhere I would be grateful for a small acknowledgement. Many thanks.

Price: £5,500.00

Ref: 1403

Click on slide show below to view full images

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