Musical clock once owned by Egypt's King Farouk sells for £385,250 at Bonhams £1.5m fine clock sale in London

An intricately decorated musical clock once owned by King Farouk, the penultimate King of Egypt, sold after a long tussle for an above estimate £385,250 (estimate £150,000 to £250,000) at Bonhams Fine Clocks sale on 12th December at New Bond Street. The auction attracted a large audience of animated bidders who pushed the whole sale total to £1.5m with nearly 87 per cent of lots sold.

This rare and ornately decorated silver-mounted musical table clock was still accompanied by its original signed and dated key. The exquisitely designed clock has been in the same family for at least fifty years and has not been seen on the auction market since 1954. Prior to the current owner, the clock would have formed part of the King's impressive collection of highly decorative European watches, clocks and snuff boxes.

Farouk was the penultimate King of Egypt and the Sudan, succeeding his father, Fuad I of Egypt, in 1936 at the age of 16. He quickly became enamored with the glamor of being a royal and enjoyed a lavish lifestyle. Although he already owned dozens of palaces and hundreds of cars, he often traveled to Europe for spending sprees to add to his grand collection.

The young King had a passion for valuable and highly decorated pieces, which during the Second World War led to a steep fall in his popularity. While the rest of the country was undergoing the hardships of war, King Farouk resolutely kept his palaces lit and continued in his elaborate lifestyle.

After further discontent a military coup was staged in 1952 and Farouk was forced to abdicate. Immediately after his abdication the monarch's baby son Fuad II was proclaimed King, but in reality the monarchy had been abolished. Farouk fled Egypt and the revolutionary government moved quickly to sell his enormous collection of treasures at auction.

The present clock was one of the most exquisite pieces among the collection, created by the great designer, James Cox in 1766. Originally a goldsmith, Cox is better known today for his elaborate musical clocks and automata, which he produced and exported to countries such as China and Russia.

Another highlights of the sale was lot 19, a fine and rare 18th century moss agate and stone set gilt metal musical casket with automata scene I the manner of James Cox with a watch movement by J. Stroud of London. It sold for £127,250 against an estimate of £20,000 to £30,000.

James Stratton, Director of the Clocks department commented " We are delighted with this result. King Farouk had an extraordinary collection of fine clocks and watches, and this James Cox clock is one of the most impressive of the lot. It is all the more rare for including the original key. There was a great deal of interest. This sale included some truly unusual and exceptionally made clocks by some of the most well-renowned clock-makers of all time."


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and appraisal services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to

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