Finely decorated Turkish market Basilisk carriage clock (c. 1880 France)

Finely decorated Turkish market Basilisk carriage clock
Title Finely decorated Turkish market Basilisk carriage clock
Country of Origin France
Dated c. 1880
Condition Very good
Dimensions 15.50cm wide (6.10 inches wide)
19.50cm high (7.68 inches high)
Status SOLD

Richard Perlman. The Basilisk Clock NAWCC Bulletin Feb 2006

Description / Expertise

D287. The Basilisk Clock. This highly individual carriage clock, the beautifully executed case of which must have been very demanding to make, would have been produced, probably only in very limited numbers, for the Middle Eastern and in particular the Turkish market. An example was acquired by Richard Perlman who examined it in detail and subsequently wrote it up in the NAWCC Bulletin dated February 2006.He noted that the prime object illustrated in the decoration was the Basilisk, a serpent which was mentioned as long ago as in Pliny’s Natural History, Rome 77AD and subsequently elsewhere. Its characteristic feature was that it moved forward whilst still maintaining a hump in the middle of its body. Amongst the powers attributed to it was that it could kill just by looking and would kill bushes at a touch. The only thing noted to kill it was the venom of a weasel.

The decoration applied to these highly individual cases, is of the highest order and appears to be identical, which would suggest that a “master” was made from which they were all copied and then chased up, finished, heavily silvered and then bronzed between the raised decoration to accentuate it. On the present example much of that bronzing has now gone.

The Basilisk appears as the central feature on both of the side panels, where he is seen coiling around (a tiger?). He also features on the carrying handle and there is a similar motif to the centre of the front of the base, whilst in the same position on the back animals are seen fighting. Other animals and birds appear elsewhere on the case whilst on the back door a crowned man (a King?) is sitting in a chair. The four turned columns have a spiral twist to the central section with delicate silver decoration.

The silvered dial on this clock, which has a scalloped border, employs Turkish script numerals whereas that on the Perlman clock uses Roman.

The movement of this clock is numbered 834 and strikes and repeats the hours on a gong.

Besides the two clocks mentioned, a third one, basically similar, but in a different case style, is illustrated in A century of fine carriage clocks by Joseph Fanelli. No 25. This illustrates Gullivers Travels. Two other similar clocks were in the Antelis Collection.

Height, with/without handle:- 7.8"/6.2" (19.5/15.5cms.)


In the bottom of the travelling case of this clock is a piece of paper on which is hand-written:-

Carriage Clock.

Belonged to Princess Eugene of France who was Great Granny Dales Cousin (Granny C’s mother). When she was widowed she came back to UK, lived in Brighton and died leaving clock to Granny Dale in her will. Passed own to Granny c, then to Ken Reid.

There is no reason to doubt the contents of this note, particularly in view of the fact that relationships and Christian names were used; more the note was not even mentioned to us at the time the clock was purchased; however it would be interesting to know who, for instance, “Great Granny Dale” and Ken Reid were.

Princess Eugenie.

There is too much written about Princess Eugene for the need to give much detail here. Suffice it to say that she was of Spanish descent, being born in Granada on 5th May 1826. In 1853 she married Napoleon the Third. Following the Franco/ Prussian war in 1870 there was a revolt in Paris and Eugene fled to England where she died in July 1920 at the age of 94.

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