Drocourt, Paris: A Striking Gorge Carriage Clock

A Gorge carriage clock by Drocourt of Paris.

The eight-day duration movement has a silvered platform lever escapement of a style typical of those used by Drocourt and strikes the hour and half-hour on a gong with a repeat button to the top allowing the last hour to be struck at will. Below six o'clock is an alarm setting dial.

The movement backplate is stamped with the serial number 9433 along with the Drocourt trademark being the initials D.C. either side of a clock and the wording Fast/Slow either side of the regulator index for adjusting the rate of timekeeping. The inside of the plates are stamped with the Drocourt trademark oval, the wording Drocourt Paris, Fnt (Fabricant or Maker), with the front of the frontplate stamped with the initials and serial number H.L. 17172, for the maker of the blanc roulant, Holingue frères. The gong block is stamped with the initials F.D. within an oval, being a gong maker also used at this time by Henri Jacot and others.

The white enamel dial has black Roman hour numerals, Arabic outer five-minute numerals, dots to the outer aspect and blued steel moon hands and signed to the centre for the retailer Ball, Black & Co., New York.

The matt-gilt case is of a style typical of this maker.

The rear of the dial has an interesting written instruction in the context of the history of carriage clock case styles in that it has written in ink 9433, cannelée N. 1. This states that the dial is to go back on the cannelée style carriage clock numbered 9433, with the number 1 being the size of clock. I have seen a number of supposed gorge carriage clocks with the wording cannelée on the dial rear which reinforces my research that the names of these two case styles were mixed up sometime in the late 20th century and that the style we call gorge  is indeed cannelée and vice-versa. That the names of each style are now so ingrained in both the minds of collectors and in all publications would suggest that the reversal has to be taken as the norm. My research shows that the great carriage clock maker Henri Jacot is considered the inventor of the cannelée style of case. But he and his successors only used what we now term gorge cases to house their movements. Why design one type of carriage clock case to then never use it? So the case shown here is described as the gorge, but in reality should really be described as a cannelée.

Height: 6¾ inches (17cms) handle up: 5¾ inches (14.5cms) handle down.

Ball, Black & Co were retailers of fine jewellery in New York and worthy competitors to Tiffany. Their founding has some mystery to it and it is known that the firm added and lost partners numerous times. But by 1823 they were known as Marquand & Co (late Marquand & Gelston).
In 1839 the name was changed to Ball, Tompkins & Black before their move to a new building at 247 Broadway in 1848.
In the 1851 the name was then changed to Ball, Black & Co (as a partnership of Henry Ball, William D. Black and Ebenezer Moore) and there was no doubt that the firm was the leading jewellery house in the nation. The name Ball, Black & Co was lost in 1876 which would tie-in with the serial number of the clock which dates it to circa 1874.

Tiffany & Co. had already been at 550 Broadway for nearly a decade when in 1860 Ball, Black & Co. decided to move north from 247 Broadway.  John A. May was not only a manufacturer of umbrellas, but a man who had interests in real estate and it was May who commissioned the architect John Kellum to design a building specifically for the use of Ball, Black & Co. at 565-567 Broadway. The store was opened on the 1st of July 1860 with great splendor and éclat. A six-story building made of East Chester marble it was described by William Leete Stone in 1868 as magnificent and justly ranking among our finest specimens of architecture.

It's of no surprise that Ball, Black & Co were supplied carriage clocks but such a fine maker as Drocourt, as were their main rivals Tiffany in their stores in New York & Philadelphia and J.C. Caldwell & Co also in Philadelphia.

For further details of Drocourt and Holingue frères see my 2014 Exhibition catalogue: Pierre & Alfred Drocourt: An Exhibition of Carriage Clocks, available via the Catalogues button above. 

Price: £2,850.00

Ref: 1422

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