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Carriage Clock “Mercury” with Cornucopia

Reiseuhr Wien mit Füllhörnern und Merkur Hermes

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Vienna, first quarter of the 19th century

Case
engine turned ormolu case, finial in the shape of god Mercury (Hermes), four cornucopias with figurines
Dial
engine turned ormolu dial, enamel dial ring
Movement
verge escapement, ruby bearing, Viennese grande sonnerie on wire gongs, repeater, turn-off for strike, alarm on bell
Height
8¾ in

cf.: P. Fritsch: Viennese Traveling Clocks, Vienna 2010, p. 187.

This elegant Viennese carriage clock from the first quarter of the 19th century captivates with the unusual figural design of the ormolu case: the case drum rests on extremely rare supporting figures in the form of four twisted cornucopias with figures of boys. This imaginative variant of the case supports is only known to us from a single other travel clock in the specialist literature.

The messenger of the gods Mercury (Greek: Hermes) serves as the finial, clearly recognizable as such by his winged helmet and the attributes caduceus (Hermes‘ staff), trade goods and purse. In ancient times, the astute god of trade, merchants and travelers was regarded as the bringer of luck and prosperity.

The rectangular base with bun feet is, like the case drum, artfully engine-turned. The dial, which is also decorated with guilloché patterns, has an enamel chapter ring with Arabic numerals. In addition to the hour and minute hands, it has a third hand which is used to set the alarm. Every quarter of an hour, the so-called Viennese grande sonnerie chime sounds – a special form of striking mechanism that not only announces the quarter of an hour acoustically, but also the last full hour. However, the striking mechanism can be switched off and on again at any time using a small lever above the dial to set the time or for a night’s rest. Quarter and full hours are struck on wire gongs, the alarm sounds with the help of a bell.

This particularly fine Viennese clock, which was probably once commissioned by a high-ranking merchant traveler of the Habsburg Empire, is an extraordinary piece from the early 19th century and was already an absolute treasure at the time of its manufacture.

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