A rare automaton car clock by Guilmet, (c. 1907 France)

A rare automaton car clock by Guilmet,
Title A rare automaton car clock by Guilmet,
Country of Origin France
Dated c. 1907
Medium Brass
Condition Excellent
Dimensions 24.00cm wide (9.45 inches wide)
39.50cm high (15.55 inches high)
16.50cm deep (6.50 inches deep)
Status SOLD

Derek Roberts Mystery, Novelty and Fantasy Clocks.Chapter 22

Description / Expertise

D366. The car clock,by Guilmet. This is almost certainly the rarest of Guilmets industrial clocks, other than the aeroplane, of which so far only one is known.The car is also a very fine example of Guilmets skill and ingenuity and has been beautifully conceived and executed, probably being based on the cars being made around 1907-1908.

So far we have only managed to track down four in all. A very good example, which was retailed by J.Ullman & Co of Hong-Kong, Shanghai and Tientsin, is in the collection of Timepieces in the Imperial Palace in China and appears in their catalogue on page 171. The only main difference between this and the present example is the design of the bonnet, presumably because it was based on a different model of car, but from the same period.
We also have a photograph of another “car” by Guilmet, probably taken 20-30 years ago but have no idea of its whereabouts so far. A fourth car is known but this appears to have had considerable restoration.

The present car was in remarkably original condition when we acquired it and nothing was missing but it needed careful and sympathetic treatment to eliminate any rust and other signs of corrosion. Scarcely surprisingly the rubber tyres required considerable attention after over 100 years. Two were still sound but a 3rd was broken in places and had to be carefully restored and the fourth was beyond saving and had to be replaced, which required considerable skill and ingenuity. Somewhat unexpectedly most of the material used in the curtains and upholstery appeared to be the original and still in good order.

As can be seen from the photos there is a substantial black marble base, extensively flecked with brown, which blends in very well with the car. It measures 17" (43cms) by 8" (20.3 cms). Four brass columns rise up from this to support the car. When the exterior brake is released the wheels rotate and when it is pulled back the wheels become stationary. The power for this is provided by a spring driven movement to the rear of the car. Access to this is provided by lifting up a flap on which is engraved CH 1029. Beneath the chassis is the number 8301 and on the side it is engraved ‘Depose’. There is a starting handle at the front. The bonnet is sloped to the front and sides, in a manner reminiscent of the Renaults of that period and there are silver bound panels to the sides. Copper lamps are provided on either side of the bonnet and lanterns on the windscreen. Leaf springs have been fitted and right hand drive employed. An impressive horn has been used to the right of the driver who has been provided with oil and water tanks.

There is open access to the car on either side and above is a large roof rack.. There are windows to either side at the back and on one side a clock and barometer are provided and on the other a thermometer. There are brass running boards to either side which are extended over the wheels in steel.

Size, car only:- Height 9.5" (24cms.) Length 15.5" (39.5cms.) Width 6.5" (16.5cms.)

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