A scarce late 18th century French ormolu mounted white marble mantel clock modelled as a hot air balloon Festeau, Paris
Lot 83
A rare late 18th century French ormolu mounted white marble mantel clock modelled as a hot air balloon Festeau, Paris
Sold for £22,800 (US$ 38,775) inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
A rare late 18th century French ormolu mounted white marble mantel clock modelled as a hot air balloon
Festeau, Paris
Surmounted by an urn with an applied gilt floral finial, over the reeded balloon of oval form, the grooves inset with applied rope twist and beaded mounts, connected by chains to the basket below containing a later male and female figure, the balloon supported between two stop fluted columns with flowering urn finials, raised on an oval base with beaded border and toupie feet, the signed 4 inch white enamel Roman dial with pierced foliate hands, the twin train drum movement with flattened lower edges to the plates and outside countwheel strike on a bell. 48cm (19in)

Footnotes

  • The 20 minute hot air balloon flight of the Montgolfier brothers over Paris on 21st November 1783 changed human travel for ever. Although it is not fair to say that the skies, were conquered - we were still at the mercy of the weather, apart from anything else - the two Frenchmen proved that humans were no longer restricted to purely terra firma-based travel.

    Within two years, design advances, and bravado, had moved on to such an extent that Jean Pierre Blanchard and his American co-pilot, John Jefferies, crossed the English Channel. The first hot air balloon flight in America was witnessed by George Washington in 1793.

    The flight was celebrated in the scientific community and the wider society, and a small number of ballooning-inspired clocks were produced in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. A very similar example to the above lot is illustrated in Elke Niehüser's "French Bronze Clocks", Schiffer Publishing Ltd, 1999, page 254. Another, from the collection of J-B Diette, is illustrated in Tardy, 'La Pendule Francaise, part 2', page 140. Festeau also signed his clocks Ferteau and is listed as working in Paris circa 1745-1800. As a man working in the horological/scientific community in Paris, it is quite possible that he saw the first ascent himself.
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