Carriage Clocks

Carriage clocks, small, portable and spring driven, with carrying handles are amongst the most popular clocks with collectors today. At the turn of the century Abraham-Louis Breguet developed the Carriage clock, called in France a “Pendule de Voyage”. Made mainly in France throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, the largest market for them was in Britain and America.

A Miniature Enamelled Travel Carriage Clock in case
A Miniature Enamelled Travel Carriage Clock in case

Manufacture of this clock for carriages was well established in France by the 19th century. The escapement was located on the horizontal platform at the top of the clock, visible through a glazed aperture, similar to those used in watches and unaffected by movement. Makers in Paris assembled the workings of clock and case and stamped their marks on the movement.

Cases were usually rectangular, earliest versions having brass frames cast in one piece, with bevelled glass panels revealing the movement. After 1845 makers would assemble cases from several parts, allowing for variety in design, including small (mignomette), full size and giant versions.

A Cloisonne Enamel Carriage Clock
A Cloisonne Enamel Carriage Clock

The finest cases were gilded and engraved with foliate patterns. Later a small number were produced with decorative enamel or porcelain panels. Most were sold with carrying cases.

A traditional style Carriage Clock
A traditional style Carriage Clock

Dials are mostly white enamelled copper with blued steel hands. French Carriage clocks sold in Britain would often have a signature on the dial of a British retailer with serial number and maker’s stamp on the movement. Britain produced a small number of Carriage clocks with plainer, heavier cases, but considered to be of a higher quality.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Floral Enamelled Buttons

Valuable curiosities can crop up when you least expect them!

Jewellery Specialist Sarah Clark writes….

Having set myself the task of ‘learning something new today’ – information that I could perhaps pass on to someone else or store up and bring to the fore, should something similar cross my path in the future, I unfortunately realised that today was not going to be that day… The priority of seeing visiting Clients, valuing items and preparing for our forthcoming auction was clearly going to keep me busy for much of the time.

However, whilst carrying out a valuation with a Client, another lady came in. I noticed she had a picture and a plate (not my area of expertise) but she also had a small wooden box. Similar boxes I have seen contain pens or small mathematical instruments… nothing unusual there, but intriguing nonetheless. The lady was seen by a colleague and her items we consigned for auction.

On further inspection the box was very light, a bit tired, the small fastening catch didn’t fit properly and appeared to me to be of no particular value. To my astonishment when opening the box, I was amazed to see a set of six beautifully enamelled buttons. Each depicting flowers, highlighted in pinks and purples, with vivid green stems and leaves. Not what I was expecting from such an unassuming case!

Set of Six beautifully enamelled buttons
Set of Six beautifully enamelled buttons

The buttons date from the late 19th/early 20th Century and are decorated using a technique called Gin Bari or Gin Bari Foil. Developed in Japan, it involves using a colour tinted enamel over a sheet of embossed foil. Similar in appearance to Cloisonné enamel, the decoration can be found on vases and ornaments, novelties and collectors pieces, much produced throughout the 20th Century.

You just never know what is going to come through the Auction Gallery door!

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Written by Specialist Valuer Sarah Clark, B.A.(Hons.)