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Clock Designed for Napoleon's 1801 Exposition, Lost for Two Centuries, to Sell at Bonhams
Estimated at £200,000 – 300,000, the clock was designed by French clock maker, Hartmann, and uses the Republican calendar, the decimal time system put into effect by Napoleon in 1793. Photo: Bonhams.


LONDON.- An historic and rare clock believed to have been designed for Napoleon’s ‘Exposition publique des produits de l’industrie Francaise’ in 1801 and which has lain undiscovered in Europe for two centuries, is to be sold at Bonhams, New Bond Street, as part of its sale of Fine Clocks and Watches on 28 June 2011. Estimated at £200,000 – 300,000, the clock was designed by French clock maker, Hartmann, and uses the Republican calendar, the decimal time system put into effect by Napoleon in 1793.

Napoleon established the ‘exposition’ in 1798 to showcase France’s burgeoning industry. In 1801, the exposition was held in the courtyard of the Louvre and it is recorded that, in this exhibition, a clock maker named Hartmann of 9 rue de Vannes gained an honourable mention for a clock with eight dials which showed the rising and setting of the sun and the moon phase. It is almost certain that this clock, the clock shown to the Emperor, is the very clock that Bonhams will be selling on 28 June.

The clock is signed Hartmann, Paris, invenit et fecit, and the eight enamel dials were made by the foremost dial maker of the day, Joseph Coteau. One of the dials features the months, which were named according to the prevailing conditions, such as ‘grape harvest’, ‘foggy’, ‘snowy’ and ‘frosty’, a system that was introduced after the French Revolution and was mocked in Britain with people referring to the months as wheezy, sneezy, breezy; slippy, drippy and nippy; showery, flowery and bowery; and wheaty, heaty and sweety...

Indeed the time system did not prove popular in France either and by 1806 it was dropped, having lasted 13 years.






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