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Athanase Bourdin No.7: A Rare Grande-sonnerie Carriage Clock  


This is one of the rarest of the known recorded Bourdin carriage clocks with a wonderful amount of detail as to the makers and suppliers of the various parts that make up a carriage clock.


A grande-sonnerie striking carriage clock made circa 1837 and signed for the well-known maker and retailer Bourdin of Paris.

With the serial number 7 stamped to the movement this the earliest recorded Bourdin clock and has the name of the maker of the blanc roulant (blank movement) BECHOT stamped to the lower left-hand corner of the backplate. My research shows Bechot is known to have been working from at least 1823 as an Horloger et Magasin, with an address at Quincampoix 59, moving within two years to Rue Montmorency 14. By the 1850s he was working alongside his son with a specialement de pendules de voyage at Pont-Louis-Phillipe, 3. The movement plates are tapered with fins to one end as seen on other movements made by Bechot for Bourdin, including number 72. Bourdin used movements supplied by Bechot until at least clock number 125.


The backplate has two levers, one above the bells to the left for Sonne/Silence (Strike/Silent) and another below the bells to the right for Gde Srie/Pte Srie (Grande/Petite-sonnerie). This allows the clock to strike the hours and quarters on the two bells at each quarter, or just the quarters on two bells at each quarter and the hour on the hour.

The movement is fitted with an early duplex platform escapement as opposed to the more normal lever escapement. The underside of the escapement is stamped within a rectangular box, H. R & Cie, with additional stamps, A 24. This is in all probability the mark of the fine chronometer maker Julien-Hilaire Rodanet, more commonly known as Hilaire Rodanet. His son, the well know horologist Auguste-Hilaire Rodanet, is reported in the Revue Chronometrique of 1898 as having presented the Musee-Bibliotheque de la Chambre Syndicale de l’Horlogerie de Paris with an Echappement Duplex pour pendule de voyage, construit par M. Rodanet père, de Rochefort-sur-mer, 1836. Translated as: A duplex escapement for a carriage clock, constructed by my father Monsieur Rodanet, of Rochefort-sur-Mer, 1836. This being within months of Bourdin number 7 being made.

The enamel dial has fine numerals and is signed Bourdin, Sr de Souriau, Hr du Roi, Rue de la Paix 24, a Paris. Translated as: Bourdin, Successor to Souriau, Clockmaker to the King, Rue de la Paix 24, Paris and has gilded brass spade style hands. The subsidiary alarm dial is interesting as it has Roman numerals rather than the more normal Arabic.


The case is of an early Corniche design with shaped corners engraved in a style that suggests being by the well-known engraver Charles Demengeot. I have examined another similarly engraved Bourdin clock which is stamped on the case Demengeot Graveur. Other makers such as Raingo and Paul Garnier from this earlier period would appear to have cases engraved by him which is not surprising as this small group of carriage clock makers were working closely together being supplied movements from the same blanc roulant makers such as the Holingue family of Saint-Nicolas-d’Aliermont. The engraved designs used on the clock cases are reminiscent of those seen in Demengeot’s manual of engraving, the Dictionnaire du Chiffre Monogramme dans les Styles Moyen âge et renaissance, et Couronnes Nobiliaires Universelles. In more modern times a design of his was utilised for the descriptive shield of Beauxbaton House in the Harry Potter films. His entry in the Almanach of 1852 describes him as an engraver of pendules de voyage (carriage clocks) with premises at Sainte-Anne, 57 pres la passage.


The rear glass rear door has a most unusual feature not seen before being a circular concave ‘cut-out’ to facilitate the siting of the bells.

Hidden within the top of the base are the engraved initials, A.V. for the casemaker.


A summary of details of Athanase Bourdin are in my article Carriage Clock Makers of Paris Illustrated by Postcards as published by the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors in November 2021, with an explanation as to the change of address from Rue de la Paix 24 to number 28. This article is available to download via the Exhibition Catalogues & Articles link above.


I have further interesting details of Bourdin, his family and his mentor Souriau, along with the movement maker Bechot, the engraver Demengeot and the Rodanet family taken from my research undertaken into the early French carriage clocks and their makers which will be supplied with the clock.

Bourdin’s shop in Rue de la Paix being situated under the awning below the left-hand arched window of the second full building along. It was demolished in 1868 to make way for the construction of the Place de l’Opera, a part of Hausmann’s scheme to reconfigure much of central Paris.

Price: On Application

Ref: 1479

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