|Title:||Italian Night Clock|
|Description:||Italian night 24” Very fine walnut case|
|Condition:||case with several missing moldings, back door has drop to hold candle which illuminates dial chapters|
|Appraised By:||David A. Sperling|
|Appraiser Comments:||Your appraisal request presented a true horological challenge for me in terms of research. First a bit about the history of the "Italian Night Clock". ------------------------------In 1685 a German university professor named Johann Christoph Sturm published a manuscript in which he claims credit for the invention of a projection type of night clock. Actually five years earlier Johann Philipp Treffler, clockmaker of Augsburg, claimed the invention of a similar object for himself. The truth was that the rightful claim for creating the first example of such a clock belongs to Guiseppe Campani of Rome. Along with his brothers, Matteo and Pier Tommaso, he produced a "silent" night clock for Pope Alexander Vll in 1656. The brothers had created a unique form of case and clock which was later used not only in Italy but in England , Germany, and ultimately 200 years later in France. These 17th century examples were usually signed by the maker either on the dial or the movement. In addition, the original movements all apparently had delicate round brass plates and were spring or fusee driven.------------------------------- A half century ago, in 1953, Silvio Bedini presented a rather comprehensive talk on the Italian night clock at Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts. It was titled "The Clock of Death" because it had no hands and no tick. The rarity of the clock was clear in that there were only five known Campani night clocks: one in the Royal Palace in Dresden, one in the Municipal Museum in Geneva, one in Kassel Germany, and two in the USA and privately owned.------------------------------No two of these types of clocks are quite alike. The two that were located in America have been pictured and discussed in the past. The case is usually made of Italian walnut veneer over oak and chestnut. The case is created in the Jesuit baroque altar style that the Campani brothers adopted.Their cases measured roughly 3 feet high, 2 feet wide and one foot deep. The flat panels of the case were usually covered with gilt bronzes and Florentine mosaics of semi precious stones. A great example of this type of early case is by Giovanni Foggini and currently housed in the J. Paul Getty Museum in California. Famous English clockmakers produced similar night clocks in the early 18th century which functioned in a similar manner to the Italian Night Clock (The earliest of these was by Edwardus East about 1685). During the late 19th century the French clock making firm of Planchon created a giltwood Italianate night clock in imitation of the original creation two hundred years earlier. The difference can easily be told by looking closely at the numerals, which in the French version were fired porcelain, while in the original the numbers were stencilled or pierced to allow the light of a candle or oil lamp to easily pass through.--------------------------Some characteristics of a true 17th century Italian Night Clock are: (1)The face of the clock is done in oil painting depicting a well known biblical scene surrounded by a case that was done in the architecural style and had walnut veneer. (This appears to be what your clock does indeed show)The scene is usually painted on copper and such scenes frequently had the signature of the artist on the back.------(2)Above the opening on the face are the Roman numerals l, ll and lll separated by holes which originally held some type of half hour marker (This also appears to be what your clock has)--------(3)Within the arch opening on the face is a painted circular disc with another opening to reveal either a Roman or an Arabic numeral which should be made in such a way as to permit the passage of light. The disc may have been painted with cherubs or angels. (This in fact does appear to be what your clock has) The numeral six is showing on your clock in the photo. When it is near the Roman numeral one it meant that it was a quarter after six, near the two it was six thirty and near the three it was a quarter before seven.The numbers are arranged in such a manner that when the number six falls from sight the number seven will become visible. This requires arranging the numbers on a disc but not in chronological order. The numeral two would be opposite the number eight on the disc------(4) The movements were essentially made up of several gears enclosed by strap like brass plates arranged roughly in the form of a "T". Those plates were usually engraved with the name of the clockmaker. Each gear would be visible from the rear. In one Campani example one sees three bells arranged above the small movement. There is a light fly wheel to which is attached a small light pendulum rod. The movements of all these original 17th century examples are compact and light. (Here is where your clock differs, in that you have a rather large rectilinear movement with solid brass plates, the type of movement that one might see made in the 19th or early 20th century in England, France or even Germany. In addition there is no sign of who made this movement which makes me think it might be German)----------The bottom line is that I am willing to accept the case and dial as being early (late 17th century) and Italian made. I find the painting and dial believable as well as the architectural veneered case in which they sit. (I am not so sure that the numerals have not been replaced). Just having the original case and dial ,in itself, is extrememly rare to find today. What I also believe is that there is a later, 19th or even early 20th century movement inside the case operating this clock. Now, it is possible that the case and dial are consistent with the date of the movement, and that both are later reproductions of the masterpieces of two centuried earlier. My initial impression, however, is that what you have here is a late 17th century Italian case with a 19th century movement. The French reproductions sell for between $2500-$3000. and they were made circa 1870. There certainly is no reason to believe that what you have here should be of any less value. I certainly do not think you should go significantly beyond the Fair Market Value that I have indicated,and please be certain to understand that this movement does not appear to be an early Italian movement.--------------------------- The above appraisal represents my very best opinion given the current marketplace conditions. This appraisal has been accomplished without my personally viewing the piece in question, and only from photos and information supplied by the client. In view of this, the above appraisal should be used only as a guideline to the true value of an antique. When it comes to claiming value for the Internal Revenue Service or for Estate or Insurance Company valuations on valuable antiques the best way to accomplish that end would be a person, on site in depth appraisal.-------------------------------- I WOULD GREATLY APPRECIATE IT IF YOU WOULD BE KIND ENOUGH TO LEAVE FEEDBACK FOR ME REGARDING THIS APPRAISAL. THANK YOU!|
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