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An exceptional example of an antique American cast iron ‘Novelty Clock’. During the second half of the 19th century American founders developed the ability to cast complex and delicate Victorian forms in iron – items ranging from quite large architectural elements to pieces like this. The artistic and technological complexity and detail achieved in these cast iron objects was very impressive and well appreciated by the public. However, cast iron has a tendency to become brittle and unfortunately few of these most interesting cast iron patriotic clocks have survived.

During the 19th century mechanical clocks were desirable items in terms of usefulness and as status symbols. American clockmakers pioneered in reliable clock design and mass production making good timepieces available to the general public. These factors along with advances in casting iron art objects added to the glory of the Machine Age in America. In addition the United States was emerging as a world power as a consequence of the Spanish American War of 1898. The combination of these factors resulted in the creation of patriotic objects like this painted cast iron mantle clock which is truly a deluxe example of its type in both size and composition.

This beautiful clock’s cast iron case features an American spread wing eagle over two crossed American flags with a US Army soldier and US Navy sailor (both in period 1898 uniforms) flanking a thirty hour lever escapement clock movement supported on a ‘C’ scroll and grape motif base. An excellent presentation of American national pride in that period.

An important feature of this piece is that it retains 90% of its original polychrome painted finish! The colors are rich with minimal edge wear and a few chips from handling. It is well known among antiquarians that the paints of the 19th century tended to flake and chip off iron, and if rust got to the metal paint would perish. Very few antique painted iron objects have retained any of their original painted finish – this one has survived in truly remarkable condition.

This clock retains its original thirty hour timepiece movement with lever escapement. Clocks of this genre were built with decent quality mass production works. Most owners didn’t bother caring for their movements and simply replaced the movement when needed. This clock has its original movement, the case back cover marked, “Pat. Oct.26, 1902, Pats. Pendg.” The movement is complete but not running. When we apply finger pressure to one of the main wheels the movement ticks off nicely which indicates a professional cleaning and adjustment should put it in running condition. The original painted dial and hands are in excellent condition.

This rare, handsome, impressive, and original collector’s piece which should stand out in any collection of Americana.

Dimensions: height 11″, width 9 1/2″, depth 3 1/2″, dial/bezel diameter 2 7/8″

Price: $350.00

This silver porringer is of early form in that bowl and handle are created from a billet of silver hammered into a sheet and subsequently hammer formed into its finished shape. This design follows pewter forms of the period. This porringer was also built with a pouring lip which is another unusual feature.

In addition to being used as eating vessels porringers, especially silver examples, were gifted to the newborn of prominent families, and sometimes served as baptismal bowls (the pouring spout on this one lending itself to that function). Presentation of a silver porringer to parents of a baby was an important affair in the early American Federal period when gifts of silver was limited to a relatively small percentage of the population.

This silver porringer bears no markings other than its English language presentation inscription. This plus its simple design and ample evidence of its hand hammered construction (reminiscent of 17th century silver hollowware and Spanish Colonial work) indicate the piece is of American origin. These observations also lead us to believe this piece was not produced in an urban environment where numbers of expert silversmiths produced fine pieces based on fashionable patterns. During the first half of the 19th century most American domestic silver was made from coins. The most popular coin to use was the Spanish eight-real piece, an international medium of exchange at the time due to its purity.

This silver porringer is in excellent original condition showing light wear and patina commensurate with its age.

A handsome and fascinating example of late 18th – early 19th century silver worthy of further research.

Dimensions: width across handle 7 1/4″, bowl diameter 5″, height 1 3/4″, weight

Price: $750.00

An especially fine Spanish Colonial – Mexican – solid silver 17″ diameter charger of the late 18th to early 19th century. This very impressive piece was owned by Buckingham Smith, 1810 – 1871, diplomat, author, explorer, and philanthropist. The charger was bequeathed to Joanna Williams in 1872 and is so engraved on its base.

This charger is modeled on classic mid-eighteenth century designs. It is finely wrought with its upper surfaces displaying excellent quality, surface, and patina. The charger’s early fabrication and Mexican origin are evident on its undersurfaces with casting irregularities and hand workmanship very clear along with the hand tool marks and construction details inherent in classic early Spanish Colonial silver objects. The charger also bears engraved ownership markings associated with 18th and early 19th century Mexican silver objects (please see close-up picture of marks). Collectors of early Mexican / Southwest silver consider these important features. Given the physical properties of this beautiful charger we date its creation to the second half of the 18th century and possibly into the first quarter of the 19th century.

Substantial pieces of early Mexican silver such as this are quite scarce due to the region’s intermittent political instability, civil war, natural disasters, and the varying fortunes of those who could afford large silver pieces in that place and period.

This piece is also of considerable historical value its owner having been involved in 19th century diplomatic relations between the United States and Mexican Republic.

This charger bears the engraved inscription on its base, “Joanna Williams, from, Buckingham Smith, 1872”. Buckingham Smith was a prominent citizen of St. Augustine, FL, an explorer, diplomat, author, surveyor, and philanthropist. This charger was evidently bequeathed to Joanna Williams after Smith’s death in 1871.

Mexico had been a Spanish colony until its citizens revolted against Spain in 1821 and created the Republic of Mexico. Buckingham Smith’s father, Josiah Smith, was an American diplomat appointed US Consul to Mexico sometime prior to 1824, during which year Buckingham visited him at his post. Josiah Smith died in Mexico in 1825. Josiah Smith likely had interesting experiences as one of the first American diplomats in Mexico during the turbulent period of establishing the new republic. In 1851 Buckingham Smith became secretary of the US Legation in Mexico City. General Santa Anna was still president of Mexico despite being defeated in the United States / Mexican War, 1846-1848. It is quite likely Buckingham Smith had to deal with some difficult post-war diplomatic situations. In addition during the 1850s France, under the rule of Napoleon III, became involved in Mexican affairs which led to French occupation of Mexico during the American Civil War.

We have not been able to determine if this charger was first acquired by Josiah Smith in the 1820s and passed down to Buckingham, or if Buckingham acquired it in the 1850s. A substantial body of information on Buckingham Smith is available on the internet.

Below are some extracts from the wealth of information available on the internet relating to Buckingham Smith and the websites they are taken from.

As early as January 17, 1851, Letcher had reported that opposition to the treaty was “violent from almost every quarter.” The clergy, the interests connected with rival routes, prominent men of state, foreign influence, all were hostile. Only the new president, Arista, manifested a friendliness toward it, and he was accused of desiring to cede a portion of the country to the United States. During the following month, Buckingham Smith, United States chargé ad interim, reported that the people of Mexico had become no more favorably inclined toward the convention, while on April 1 he said that, according to current opinion, the treaty could in no way or shape receive the ratification of the Mexican congress. There was not a member of the cabinet who favored it, and all agreed that “the experiment with Texas should be enough.” If their neighbors were given “a foothold in Tehuantepec” they would seize one-half of the remaining territory of the republic.”29
In the early spring of 1851, the United States chargé, Smith, had been informed that the Mexican government would not allow foreign vessels to enter the ports of the isthmus “under any circumstances,” and the Mexican vice-consul at New Orleans had been directed to deny the American company all communication with the isthmus. But the company insisted on its right to proceed with the operations. Accordingly, the steamer Gold Hunter was dispatched from San Francisco for Ventosa in the state of Oaxaca. When it arrived there, April 6, the cargo and passengers, after being detained several days, were eventually forbidden a landing. In consequence, the captain declared that he had been subjected to heavy and unnecessary expenses and demanded damages from the Mexican government.

Member Florida Territorial Legislature, 1841. Secretary United States legation, Mexico City, 1850-1852, secretary legation in Spain, 1855-1858. Delegate Democratic National Convention, Baltimore, 1864.

For more information:

CONDITION: This beautiful piece is in excellent original condition with lovely patina and no evidence of anything other than careful hand cleaning/polishing.

A very impressive and large early Mexican silver piece such as this which is also directly associated with an important period in American and Mexican history is a considerable rarity worthy of any public or private collection.

We acquired this piece in the Boston, Mass. area in 1987. we have been its caretakers since then.

Dimensions: width across handles 17″, body diameter 14 5/8″ , body height approx. 1 3/8″, weight 1270 grams (40.83 troy oz.)

A fine 19th century Spanish Colonial silver double compartment Box. This very pretty box features fine quality floral and arabesque decoration in high reposse.

We think this piece was intended as a personal keepsake and/or snuff box. The rear lid, hinged vertically opens to reveal a place wherein a picture might have been kept while the front section opens lengthwise for storage of snuff, etc. It is likely a piece like this would have been carried by the master or mistress of a wealthy ranch or mine when they traveled.

The box is in fine condition. We can cannot find any maker marks on the piece which is often the case with antique Spanish Colonial silver in this size range.

This is a fine scarce, and very attractive example of antique Spanish Colonial / Southwest silver for the collector.

Dimensions: 3″ x 2″ x 7/8″

Price: $495.00

An American ‘Theorem’ painting of the first half of the 19th century. This exceptional example of its genre is one of the scarce ones done on paper and is done in guache with graphite detail and background toning.

Theorem painting is the technique of using layered stencils to create images which could be brought to life through the application of paint, graphite, and/or ink in any manner the artist desired. Usually the paintings were done on velvet or silk and rarely, as in this case, on paper. Early in the American Federal period, around 1800, there was enough prosperity growing in the nation to engender a desire for culture and resultant appreciation of the arts. Young women were encouraged to be creative and various academies came into being to instruct them in painting, writing, social graces, etc. Theorem painting was a medium wherin an artist might create an attractive image ranging from figures to particular scenes, to still life subjects without many years of training. Paintings created in this genre are often very attractive and charming. Fashions change however, and theorem paintings began to go out of style in the 1840s. Theorem paintings have rightly achieved considerable collector interest in the field of Americana.

This good size Theorem still life is exemplary in terms of composition, variety of subject, and exceptional detail – please see our detail pictures. This work’s execution displays the work of a master in the medium. The artist may well have chosen to do this work on paper in order to display the maximum color richness, delicacy, and detail which could be achieved in the medium. This painting is most likely the work of a truly gifted student, or of a highly accomplished teacher demonstrating what was possible to achieve. We have not found an artist signature on this work.

This beautiful still life theorem painting is in very fine original untouched condition. The main image is excellent with lovely strong color. The graphite background shows some flaking near the frame edges. We obtained this piece in its period frame, in Southern New England some twenty years ago and are now downsizing our personal collection.

Dimensions: Frame: 25″ x 22 1/2″, image 17″ x 15″

Price: $2750.00

One of the most interesting and attractive pieces we have encountered over the years is this large crystal ball clock on a brass mounted beautifully carved Chinese sandalwood base. This item is of the ‘Belle Époque’ period, 1890 – 1914.

Throughout the China Trade period and into the early 20th century one of the few western products of interest in China were clocks and watches. This handsome and fascinating piece combines an impressive brass cased crystal ball eight day clock – the front and rear glasses magnify both the dial and the mechanism – with a beautiful sandalwood carving of a Chinese dragon carrying her baby on her back. She is posed looking at the clock while her cub looks at her. The piece is built so that the dragon can be revolved on its heavy brass base and the clock can also be revolved and lifted off its mounting.

Combining Western an item of technology with a classic Eastern art form this exceptional piece could have been designed for an important individual in China or the West.

The clock has a jeweled high quality eight day Swiss movement with pendant wind and set. It is in excellent condition and running well. The heavy brass casing with heavy magnifying front and back crystals is in excellent condition. The brass has a lovely patina.

The based features a marvelous coiled dragon and her cub carved in Asian sandalwood exhibiting superbly detail and having inset glass eyes. She and her hatchling are in excellent condition with wonderful patina and a couple of minor age checks. She can revolve on her heavy brass base which is in excellent condition with lovely patina.

We have enjoyed ownership of this rare and fascinating piece for many years. It is a great item for an advanced collector.

Dimensions: overall height 6 1/2″, base diameter 6″, clock body diameter 3 1/8″, dragon head height 3″

Price: $1250.00

An exceptional and very seldom seen antique working model guillotine which was probably used as a cigar cutter. The model is built of oak with a steel blade and iron mountings. The model dates 1790s to 1820 and is an accurate representation of the original French Revolution period guillotine proposed to the French Revolutionary National Assembly by Dr. Guillotine as a humane method of capital punishment. The French guillotine was first used in Paris in 1792.

The guillotine quickly achieved worldwide notoriety and became an object of great fascination. Therefore it is likely a few accurate working models would have been commissioned during the period of the device’s rise to fame. Back in the day it would not be surprising to find such a model on the desk of an official of the new regime…perhaps an officer of the judiciary. That the object served its owner as a cigar cutter would increase its cachet. Unfortunately for antiquarians very few of these antique models have survived. Over the last 40+ years we have seen but five of these pieces.

This impressive model guillotine is built of oak with a hand forged steel blade (with lead weight) and iron fittings in the manner of its full size prototype. Scale and detail match the French Revolution original. The model is in fine operating condition with blade release and blade lifting mechanisms working well (we don’t smoke cigars but can attest the guillotine works flawlessly on raw carrots and celery ).

CONDITION: This guillotine is in excellent original condition. The oak parts have excellent color, retain original finish, and have great patina with some light handling marks. The steel blade and iron parts show their age and retain excellent patina. The model’s fastenings are handmade iron screws and rivets proper for the period.

A fascinating and rare antique for the collector… and quite a conversation piece.

Dimensions: height 12 5/8″, length 7″, width 3 7/8″

Price: $1650.00 – SOLD

A very impressive and rare George III / early American form Chinese Export silver tea kettle on stand, period 1842-1860.

Chinese Export Silver is the term used to identify solid silver objects produced mainly in Canton in the late 18th century, then in Hong Kong in 1842, and Shanghai in 1844. The earliest form of ‘export silver’ were flatware and hollow ware crafted in Georgian and early American forms for China Trade ship’s officers and the personnel of British and American China Trade companies to use aboard ship or in their Chinese port residences. Silver objects could be created of heavier metal and at lower cost than in Europe and America. Objects were built by Chinese silversmiths on an individual order basis using Spanish silver eight-real coins and later Mexican silver coins of the same weight. This coinage was a standard currency of international trade throughout the China Trade period.

During the 1840s there was a significant change in Chinese Export Silver from strict adherence to western forms to the production of western styled pieces decorated with repouse Chinese designs and decoration. As the China Trade grew and travel to China increased far more ‘Export Silver’ was produced in Chinese decorated motif than had been made in the strict Anglo / American form of the earlier China Trade period. For collectors of antique Chinese Export silver the scarce earlier Anglo/American pieces have always been especially sought after.

The tea kettle on stand with spirit burner is a scarce and impressive form in Chinese Export Silver. This beautiful example in classic Georgian / early American form is a great rarity (see “The Chait Collection Of Chinese Export Silver”, by John D. Kernan, Chait Galleries, NYC, 1985, page 18, fig., 1 ).

This tea kettle on stand bears the marks, on the base of the teapot and spirit burner, of Wang Hing – WH, 90, + Chinese maker mark – which was founded by the ‘Lo’ family in Hong Kong, China in 1842 and had become probably the largest firm of its kind by the end of the 19th century. Since export silver in strict Anglo / American style was being replaced by Chinese motif pieces in this period, very few Wang Hing objects have been found in the earlier style.

This substantial Wang Hing tea kettle on stand is modeled on Georgian and early American designs of the 1770 – 1820 period. Its only ‘Chinese’ touch are rings at the base of the spout and the spout’s tip modeled as a bird’s open beak. The handle is fitted with a turned grip Huang Huli (rosewood). The kettle bears an engraved owner monogram. The kettle rests on a Georgian ring form base with four well shaped legs ending in prominent feet and has two huang huli carrying handles with silver arms. The spirit burner is of Georgian form.

Condition: The piece is complete and in excellent condition. The kettle has a two very minor dents and very light handling marks. All surfaces have excellent surface and light patina. One huang huli handle on the ring base shows a scorch mark.

This exceptional Chinese Export Silver tea kettle on stand was recently discovered in southeastern Massachusetts and would occupy a prime place in a public or private collection of China Trade silver.

Dimensions: overall height 12 1/4″.overall kettle width 9″, kettle diameter 6″, weight:2.8 pounds including wooden handles.

Price: $4500.00 – SOLD

An especially handsome antique nautical desk piece comprising a fine eight day ship clock by Boston Clock Company, and a working brass model of a collapsible stock anchor mounted on a green marble base retailed by the famous luxury goods emporium ‘Shreve Crump & Low, Boston’.

A piece such as this would have been designed as a special item for a yachtsman, naval officer, or ship owner. Since there is a brass escutcheon plate present it is possible this piece was intended for presentation.
The Boston Clock Company was founded by Joseph Eastman in 1888 and built very high quality ship clocks, carriage clocks and regulator clocks of his innovative design. In 1897 this company became the world famous Chelsea Clock Company especially well known for ship’s clocks.

This Boston Clock Co. ship clock has a beautifully engineered eight day movement in a heavy brass case adjustable for ease of viewing. The clock is in excellent condition with original silvered dial and blued steel hands and runs well. The brass collapsible stock anchor is very well modeled on prototypes carried aboard US Navy warships, commercial steamers, large yachts, and other vessels of the period. A substantial brass escutcheon is mounted on the nicely grained marble base and could have been intended for a presentation and/or owner’s name. The plate does not appear to have ever been marked.

The brass on this piece is in excellent condition with a lovely golden age patina. The green marble base is in excellent condition with original surface and some light handling marks and very minor corner chips commensurate with age.

A great looking top quality and substantial piece for the collector of American marine antiques
Dimensions: base width 8″, depth 8″, thickness 1″, overall height 8″, clock diameter 3 3/8″

Price: $1185.00

A fine and very attractive patinated bronze antique chandelier, period 1900-1925 in Neo-Classic form.

Neo-Classical furniture and decoration became popular in the latter part of the 18th century due to archeological discoveries in Greece which inspired architects and the furniture designs of Hepplewhite and Sheraton in England, circa 1770, which became very popular in the United States during the 1790s and throughout the American Federal period (1790-1830). Neo-Classical forms were also popular in France during the latter years of Louis XVI and into the Napoleon’s reign.

There was a resurgence of interest in the American Federal Period in the United States from around 1890 and throughout the 1920s – when this chandelier was created – resulting in considerable collecting and decorating in the ‘Federal Style’. It is interesting to note that formal American Federal design has elements in common with the high style Art Deco furnishings of the 1920s. The finely proportioned and clean lines of ancient Greece are still popular in the modern world.

This very attractive bronze/brass chandelier is an excellent example of neo-classic form featuring six branches. It shows very high quality casting and chasing of its elements. This chandelier is in excellent condition retaining nearly all its original patinated finish and original surface. The original ceiling fixture is present, and the electrical wiring is in fine condition.

The chandelier is of a very practical size for house or apartment. Width across the branches is 22″, overall height 25″, and each branch is 9″ from the central hub.

Price: $400.00

An historical British presentation heavy sterling silver presentation cigarette case. This fine piece was given by the Nobel Explosives Company – Alfred Nobel invented dynamite and was a pioneer in high explosives development, he also founded the Nobel Prize – to Sir Walter C. Hillier, K.C.M.G. world famous British diplomat, academic, author, Sinologist and Professor of Chinese at King’s College London. Sir Walter held important posts in Asia during the last years of the Chinese Empire and was involved in Asian affairs during the 1911 Chinese revolution and rise of Sun Yat Sen.

During this tumultuous period numbers of railroad building, mining projects, and general construction plans were proposed to help modernize China. These projects in addition to the military situation in China required high explosives and the technological expertise to use them which Nobel’s company could participate in with some help from Sir Walter who had relationships with Chinese officials such as the famous Li Hung Chan.

Click Here for information on Sir Walter Hillier

This fine sterling silver case, hallmarked for Birmingham, 1912, is in very fine original condition with gold washed interior. Light surface handling marks show that Sire Walter likely carried this piece during the Belle Époque years preceding World War -I.

A fine and most interesting artifact given to a British Peer during a most important period of Anglo-Chinese history.

Dimensions: width 3 3/8″, depth 2 3/4″, weight: 126.9 grams

Price: $425.00