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MARLBOROUGH, Mass – November 21, 2012 – Skinner, Inc. will host an auction of Science, Technology, and Clocks on Saturday, December 1st in its Marlborough gallery. The sale features an important collection of ornamental turning equipment and references, including Holtzapffel & Company rose engine lathes, turning tools, and accessories.
Ornamental Turning Lathes and Tools
The tour de force of lathes, a rare and important Holtzapffel & Company rose engine lathe, No. 1636, will be offered in the December sale along with its tools and accessories (lot 232, estimated between $70,000 and $90,000). Two years in the making, this lathe was first sold for a price reportedly in excess of 1,500 pounds sterling on December 20, 1838 to a London civil engineer, John Taylor Esquire (1779-1863). It is the most complex and fully-featured rose engine lathe that Holtzapffel ever made. Of this particular lathe, John Jacob Holtzapffel II wrote in 1886: it is “. . . one of three, the last and best we have made.”
Less elaborate Holtzapffel lathes include ornamental turning lathe No. 1994 (lot 230, $10,000 to $15,000), and ornamental turning lathe No. 2328 (lot 231, $10,000 to $15,000). The auction also includes ornamental turning books and catalogues, elaborately carved turned objects, and a collection of hardwood turning blanks.
Exceptional Holtzapffel turning tools with ivory handles (lot 175, $20,000 to $30,000) will also be sold along with lathe attachments and cutter frames from makers that include Evans, Fenn, and Holtzapffel. The ivory-handled tools are displayed in a large, double-door mahogany cabinet and amply demonstrate the excellence of Holtzapffel tools. It is likely that these were exhibition tools, shown by Holtzapffel in 1851 at the London Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations.
Theodore R. Crom Collection of Early Watches and Clocks
This collection of early watches provides a unique opportunity for watch enthusiasts to bid on museum-quality items not typically available for sale to the public. The advanced mechanical elements and intricacy of these timepieces will intrigue both experienced and beginning collectors.
Notable watch offerings include a gilt and rock crystal case watch circa 1630 by Swiss maker Charles Bobinet (lot 248, $15,000 to $20,000), a Jean Rousseau tulip-form gilt brass and rock crystal watch (lot 258, $5,000 to $7,000), and a Thomas Young silver "shutter" watch which opens to reveal the time when the crown is depressed (lot 255, $7,000 to $9,000). An ivory Crucifix-form watch circa 1630 with a carved ivory diptych case depicts The Passion of Christ, the annunciation, the manger scene, Christ bearing the cross to Calvary, and the Crucifixion on the hinged lid and back (lot 257, $6,000 to $8,000).
The decorative enamel elements, snakeskin outer case, and faux pendulum of a Samuel Ruel enameled pair case watch circa 1715 (lot 261, $15,000 to $25,000) will captivate collectors. And for those seeking a more whimsical timepiece, a "Bras en L'Aire" silver open-face watch (lot 298, $1,000 to $1,500) features a gilt figure with arms that rise to indicate the time when the pendant is depressed. A gold-quarter-repeating musical watch (lot 295, $2,000 to $3,000) plays a tone on request to indicate the nearest quarter-hour. Repousse and shagreen watch cases will also be available.
Notable clock offerings include an E. Howard & Company No. 23 ninety-day astronomical regulator from Boston circa 1870 (lot 511, $70,000 to $90,000). A selection of American musical clocks and chiming clocks will also be sold.