Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pendule de Voyage

The reasons why carriage clocks are so popular amongst horologists are many: they are decorative, old and interesting, entirely practical as timekeepers with a reasonable degree of accuracy (some keeping better time than your modern Rolex watches!) With charm and fascination of their own, fine examples are becoming more valuable with every year that passes.

After the last post and recommendation on a watch book referred by me as 'Watch Bible', a number of subscribers asked if there was a similar book about carriage clocks.

Before answering this question, let me just say that it is important to understand that unlike wrist watches which are produced for less than 100 years, domestic clocks have been around for at least 600 years. Although modern carriage clocks became fashionable in the early 1800s, the history of carriage clocks is far from being fully documented. Therefore, a proper reference book on the subject is yet to be written.

However, a keen student of Horology should make every effort to acquire the book by Charles Allix and Peter Bonnert "Carriage Clocks - their history and development". This rare and hard-to-find book was published in 1974.

Pendule de Voyage

A couple of years ago, I was fortunate enough to receive Allix's book from a fellow horologist, Mr. Doug. Not only is he a keen collector, but also a true gentleman. Doug personalised my copy in a manner that truly reflects his kindness:

"Dear Nick - here, at last, is the carriage clock book. Charles Allix only published one edition. I sincerely trust that you will get as much pleasure and add to your store of knowledge as did I over the 25 years that I collected carriage clocks. Regards, D W."

With the book, I also received letters that Doug exchanged with Allix which provided further insight about the fascinating world of collecting. I take the liberty to quote just one paragraph from Doug's letter below:

"...whilst there (London, 1978) I bought two miniatures (carriage clocks) from Charles Frodhsam On the day I was leaving to return to Sydney I saw your book in a book store and a whole new world opened to me, thanks to you. Over the next 9 years I acquired 22 clocks including quarter strike by Leroy, a Jacot, a Margaine and Drocourt... I can't stress enough the pleasure and education that you have brought to me and countless others over the years..."

As A.G. Randalll wrote, "all who can recognise a labour of love when they see one will find in the Axells book clear evidence of more hard work, devotion to detail and sheer love of the subject than they have come across for a long time."

And that's what horology should be all about!

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