by Ian McKay, email@example.com
Filing copy pretty much on Christmas Eve for this issue, I find my files bursting with good things for report over the coming months, but the two principal items in this “Letter” feature original book illustrations for the exceptional collection formed by film director Michael Winner, and the horological collections of the late George Daniels, a craftsman whom some regard as the greatest watchmaker of the last 200 years. A barometer by a man better known for his clocks is also featured, and 20th-century technical prowess also features in a piece on Leica cameras sold in Hong Kong and Austria.
To add variety, this month’s column also includes two fans with a message, a prayer nut-cum-pomander, and polar sledging wear for man and dog.
In 1990, this illustration for Hansel and Gretel by Kay Nielsen sold for $15,050 at Sotheby’s. In the December 2012 sale of the Winner collection, it made $79,420.
“Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, Bump, bump, bump...,” sold for $224,555 as part of the Michael Winner collection at Sotheby’s on December 12.
“Handsome bell-rope, isn’t it? said Owl,” an original ink drawing by E.H Shepard for Winnie-the-Pooh that sold for $102,640.
The Beatrix Potter watercolour of a “Gentleman Rabbit…,” a prototype drawing for Benjamin Bunny and probably made as a greeting card design, 1890-93. Sold for $57,210 when last seen at auction, at Christie’s South Kensington in 2004, it moved on to $114,250 as part of the Winner collection.
Made for the title poem in a 1912 edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Bells and other Poems, this dark and dramatic watercolour by Edmund Dulac sold for $30,235 in the Winner sale.
The most expensive Dulac, at $46,360, was this illustration for the poem “To Marie Louise” in a 1912 edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Bells and other Poems.
A Rackham illustration for “The Shipwrecked Man and the Sea” from Aesop’s Fables sold for $75,550.
It was a visit many, many years ago to a bookshop in London’s Charing Cross Road, and an encounter there with a couple of original artworks by Arthur Rackham, that set the film director Michael Winner on the path to becoming a passionate collector of original book illustrations.
On December 12, 2012, at Sotheby’s, that lifetime collection was put on the market. Though it was billed as the finest single-owner collection of original book illustrations ever seen at auction, not everything went to plan. Most of the major lots did find buyers, but overall around one-third failed, and it took some strong individual performances by a few of them to ensure that the salesroom’s predictions of a $1.5 million-plus total was just about achieved.
The best represented illustrators in the Winner collection sale were Arthur Rackham, the man who had inspired the collection, Edmund Dulac, and Kay Nielsen, but it was no surprise to find the day’s highest bid going to an iconic E.H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin coming down the stairs, dragging Winnie-the-Pooh behind him—“…Bump, Bump, Bump, on the back of his head….”
This is the ink drawing that faces the first page of text in Chapter I of the 1926, first edition of Winnie-the-Pooh, and one of the more famous images in all children’s literature. In 1991, Sotheby’s sold it for around $30,000, but this time there was little surprise that it was able to improve on that to sell at $224,555.
It was bought by Kendra and Allan Daniel, well-known American collectors and dealers in this field (as well as in American folk art), who had their own major illustration sale at Sotheby’s New York in April 2011 and donated a portion of the takings of that sale to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts, a collection to which they have previously gifted original artworks.
Kendra Daniel told me, “Only a few days before the auction, we had been inspired by an exhibition of the original art for Charlotte’s Web, which is arguably the most important twentieth-century American children’s book, at the Eric Carle Museum. Highlighting the show was the original cover drawing, which had brought an impressive $150,000 at Heritage Auction Galleries.
“Upon seeing the catalogue of the Winner sale, we were excited to see the image from Winnie-the-Poohon the cover. It struck us that here was an original work of art depicting the most charming and important characters of any British twentieth-century children’s book and one with a strong international influence. And as the most important image from the book, it seemed a once in a lifetime opportunity not to be missed. Although we had a cap on our spending, the drawing went for less than we expected and we are thrilled to add this iconic image to our collection.”
That wonderful opening drawing may see Pooh making his grand entrance*in a rather inelegant manner, but it is one that introduced the beloved bear to succeeding generations of children worldwide and thus has a very special place in the history of children’s book illustration.
A second illustration from that famous book, in which Pooh finds Eeyore’s lost tail being used as a bell-pull by Owl—above a sign that reads “plez cnoke / if an rnsr / is not reqid”—just about topped the low estimate in selling at $102,640.
A third Shepard illustration, this time a variant version of one that he originally made for The House at Pooh Cornerof 1928, was sold at $60,070. “Tiggers can’t climb trees,” in which Christopher Robin, Pooh, Eeyore, and Piglet hold out a blanket to catch the falling Tigger, is one of the many variants or copies of his illustrations that Shepard is known to have carried on producing as presents or on commission.
There was just a single Beatrix Potter illustration in the Winner collection, and it was not something from one of her books, but an ink and watercolour drawing of a “Gentleman Rabbit with Letter,” dating from 1890-93 and presumably one of the many greeting card designs that she made at this time for the firm of Hildesheimer. In December 2004, when it sold for $57,210 in a Christie’s South Kensington sale, it was determined to be a prototype drawing of Benjamin Bunny, and it was as a portrait of “Gentleman Benjamin” that it sold for $114,250 last December.
No fewer than 24 pieces by the prolific Arthur Rackham were to be found in the Winner collection, but there were problems here and little more than half of them, 14 lots, found buyers.
Kendra Daniel’s view on this was that “When so many works of art by the same artists come to auction at the same time, it presents a problem—the market becomes flooded and only the very best sell, as in the case of the Arthur Rackhams, which were uneven in quality.”
A couple of early, and somewhat monochrome, ink and watercolour drawings made in 1901 for the magazine Little Folks and later published in The Land of Enchantment, valued at around $30,000 to $50,000 apiece, failed to sell, as did—more surprisingly, perhaps—two illustrations for a 1905 edition of Rip van Winkle, but there were ups as well as downs among the Rackhams.
“Peter Pan is the Fairies’ Orchestra,” an illustration to Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens of 1906, showing the infant Peter seated on toadstools and playing Pan pipes to the dancing and frolicking fairies, made $114,250, and a second illustration from the same work, “Fairies are all more or less in hiding until dark,” sold for $98,770.
“The Shipwrecked Man and the Sea,” a dramatic scene from a 1912 edition of Aesop’s Fables in which a giant, naked female figure emerges from the waves, improved on estimate to sell at $75,550, while sold for a mid-estimate $79,420 was “The Man in the Wilderness,” an illustration from Mother Gooseof 1913 in which a little girl encounters a pixie(?) seated by his camp beneath those familiar, pollarded and anthropomorphised trees—forerunners of Tolkien’s Ents—that are characteristic of some of Rackham’s work.
Of the 15 works by Kay Nielsen in the Winner collection, 12 found buyers. Most were ink drawings that sold in the $3000 to $6000 range, but two ink and watercolour drawings brought higher sums, and bid to a higher than predicted sum by the Daniels was “They saw that the Cottage was made of Bread and Cakes,” one of 12 plates made for a 1925 edition of Hansel and Gretel and other Stories by the Brothers Grimm. In a 1990 sale held by Sotheby’s, one in which this striking image was used as the catalogue cover illustration, it had sold for $15,050. This time the price was $79,420.
“We are avid collectors of Kay Nielsen,” said Kendra Daniel, “and were delighted to be the successful purchasers of the Hansel and Gretelwatercolour, along with two of the very fine black and white drawings. We also bid for the Carle Museum and were able to acquire another of the Kay Nielsen drawings and a superb drawing by William Heath Robinson for their collection.”
There were 18 works by Edmund Dulac on offer, all of them ink or pencil and watercolour drawings, and 13 of them found new homes.
Top lot, at $46,360, was a mysterious female figure staring out from a dark, woodland setting, one of 28 colour plates that Dulac produced for a 1912 edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Bells and other Poems—in this instance to illustrate the poem “To Marie Louise,” the writer, friend, and neighbour, Mrs. Marie Louise Shew, who also acted as nurse to his TB stricken wife, Virginia. Another illustration for that Poe collection, a dark image of the faces of ghouls swirling around a church steeple that illustrates “The Bells” itself, was sold for $30,235.
“And ever with the tears falling down from her eyes she sighed and sang,” the original of one of 50 colour plates that illustrated “The Story of the Magic Horse” in a 1907 edition of Stories from the Arabian Nights, was another Dulac success at $44,345.
* In December 2008, Sotheby’s sold the companion piece from the end of the book. “Bump. Bump, Bump – going up the stairs” was sold for $150,975 as part of the collections of Stanley J. Seeger and Christopher Cone—a sale which in 15 lots offered no fewer than 22 original illustrations from Winnie-the-Pooh.
One of 13 plates that Rackham produced to illustrate a 1913 edition of Mother Goose, “The Man in the Wilderness,” sold for $79,420.
“Fairies are all more or less in hiding until dark,” one of Arthur Rackham’s illustrations for Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, sold for $98,770.
“The Ladies Telegraph” fan, sold for $4050 by Dominic Winter.
The “Portsmouth Shutter Telegraph Line” fan, which also brought $4050, and a detail showing the shutter station and its operators.
Designed to allow two ladies, who might be inconveniently seated at some distance from each other, to continue to communicate in a reasonably discreet manner, “The Ladies Telegraph” is a coded paper fan that was invented and engraved by Robert Rowe and published in London in 1798.
Along the top edge of the side reproduced at right are the letters of the alphabet, each with a moveable tab, and on the main body of the fan is a coloured key. When one of the letter tabs is moved upwards, a different colour appears on the vertical stripes on the back of the fan, and in this manner whole sentences can be spelled out. There are also instructions on how to ask and answer the “most familiar and occurrent questions.” The letters C and D used together, for instance, mean “I admire the Elegance of your Dress. Where was it made?” while D and E permit the response “I am glad you like it. I will tell you by the Telegraph.”
This essential social tool—though not really suitable and potentially embarrassing for the colour blind—was sold for $4050 in a December 13, 2012, sale held by Dominic Winter of South Cerney in Gloucestershire.
Sold at that same sum in the South Cerney sale was an almost exactly contemporary fan offering “A View of the Telegraph erected on the Admiralty Office.”
Built in 1796 during the Napoleonic Wars, and in an attempt to keep up with the French, who had already developed such a system, the machine was designed by the Reverend Lord George Murray. It consisted of six shutters in two columns of a 20' high vertical frame, and each shutter could be either closed or opened, allowing for 64 permutations.
By this method, the “Portsmouth Shutter Telegraph Line,” which employed a series of ten such stations, could deliver a much faster relay of messages brought by ships returning to the country’s main naval dockyard to the Admiralty in London—a process that had previously taken at least four and half hours by dispatch rider and a string of horses. It remained in use until 1815, when, following the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo, the Admiralty announced plans to replace the shutters with a more permanent series of stations using mechanically operated semaphore arms.
The principal, central image shows the instrument itself, with all shutters closed, and the little figures you may just be able to make out are a disabled naval lieutenant in charge of signals, a midshipman whose job it was to look out at the next telegraph point, and a foremast- man who deals with the operating ropes.
Ernest Shackleton’s sledging harness from his 1907-09 Antarctic expedition, sold for $28,055 by Christie’s South Kensington.
The brass-studded leather collar worn by a sledge dog called Joe, with two brass name-plates recording his participation in the 1898-1900 “Southern Cross Expedition” and Scott’s 1901-04 “Discovery Expedition.” It was sold for $14,090 by Bonhams.
In a year that saw the 100th anniversary of Robert Scott’s heroic but finally fatal journey to the South Pole, where he found that he had been beaten to the prize by the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, there have been a few sales commemorating those two expeditions. Bonhams, in fact, held two such events—one in March 2012, and a second portion on December 4.
Two unusual and, in a way, practically linked artefacts from the Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration featured in those sales—a sledging harness from a sale held by Christie’s South Kensington on October 9, 2012, and a dog collar from the more recent Bonhams sale—are illustrated and described here.
Ernest Shackleton’s sledging harness saved his life on countless occasions during the “Farthest South” journey of his 1907-09 expedition, when the larger part of his 1755-mile march to within 100 miles of the South Pole was achieved by man-hauling sledges on foot.
This was especially so when negotiating the crevasse-seamed Beardmore Glacier, and in his 1909 account of that expedition, The Heart of the Antarctic, he wrote, “Just before we left the Glacier I broke through the soft snow, plunging into a hidden crevasse. My harness jerked up under my heart, and gave me rather a shake up. It seemed as though the glacier were saying: ‘This is the last touch of you; don't you come up here again.’”
Estimated at $8800/11,700 in a September 2001 auction and apparently sold after the event for $16,320, the harness this time made a low-estimate $28,055.
Sold for $14,090 in the second Bonhams sale was the collar of a sled dog called “Joe” who took part in two Antarctic expeditions.
Joe was actually born in Antarctica, during the pioneering “Southern Cross Expedition” of 1898-1900. Financed by the British publisher George Newnes and led by the Norwegian explorer Carsten Borchgrevink, this was the first expedition to overwinter in Antarctica and the forerunner of the great ones that followed. The young Joe was given by Borchgrevink to the expedition’s physicist and astronomer, Louis Bernacchi, who put him to work the following year.
Joe went back to Australia with Bernacchi in 1900, but very soon thereafter, Bernacchi, the naturalised son of Italian emigrants to Tasmania, was engaged by Scott for his “Discovery Expedition” and it was back to the frozen South once more.
Joe was one of the dogs that hauled sledges on Scott’s “Farthest South” journey, but when food for the dogs ran out, Joe’s strength failed, and on the return trip, on January 8, 1903, he had to be put down. Both Bernacchi and Joe are commemorated in bronze statues on the waterfront at Hobart in Tasmania.
Until July 2001, when it was sold as part of a larger lot by Sotheby’s, Joe’s collar had remained in the family of Frank Plumley, a stoker on the Discovery who also fulfilled the role of Joe’s groomer.
Little more than 2" in diameter, this exquisite boxwood carving, seen here in two views, is what is known as a prayer nut. Dating to the first quarter of the 16th century and made in the northern part of the Netherlands, this boxwood orb is decorated to the exterior with a regular network of drop-shaped recesses with quatrefoil piercings and a band of twisted branches that resemble a crown of thorns, but it is only when it is opened up that its true glory is revealed. Inside are two intricately carved concave reliefs representing Christ on the road to Calvary and the Crucifixion. Though each is about 1½" across, the two carvings manage to include no fewer than 27 men, ten horses, five women, a bishop, a little boy, a castle, and a camel!
Such things were designed to be worn on a rosary or belt and could be used for private devotion when their wealthy owners were travelling, and are therefore known as rosary beads or prayer nuts. It is thought that a fragrant substance might have been inserted behind the reliefs so that, with help of the openwork on the outside, the prayer nut might have doubled as a pomander. However, it was recently suggested that this particular type of early 16th-century prayer nut was on such a small scale that it probably became impractical to use and that, rather than being of purely religious or talismanic use, they may have been among virtuoso carvings commissioned for the earliest cabinets of curiosities—simply made to be studied and marvelled at.
Netherlandish boxwood prayer nuts are today almost exclusively found in national museums, and one in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and another in the British Museum incorporate scenes based on the same models as the present example. A third nut with these scenes, which was formerly in the Spitzer collection, has a similar inscription.
The prominent presence of Saint Veronica and her veil in the present example is, however, unique, and might therefore allude to the original owner’s profession, name, or patron saint.
At Sotheby’s on December 5, 2012, this miniature masterwork of wood carving sold at $214,555.
The Leica Luxus I that was sold for $962,490 by Bonhams Hong Kong on November 23.
David Douglas Duncan’s Leica M3D-2, sold for $2,179,480 by Westlicht of Vienna on November 24.
“We took a bit of a gamble, but it has paid off handsomely. Already we can see that this market is outstripping New York and London.” So said John Baddeley, head of the collectables department at Bonhams, following the spectacular success of the salesroom’s first all-Leica camera auction in Hong Kong on November 23, 2012, a sale aimed at the rapidly emerging market for vintage cameras that they had identified in China.
The 250 lots of cameras and accessories came from two major collections—that of the famous watchmaker the late George Daniels, whose fabulous horological collection is described elsewhere in this “Letter,” and that formed by E.J. “Jack” Newton, one of the founder members of the Leica Historical Society and its first president.
The star turn, at seven times the predicted sum, was a Leica Luxus I of circa 1930 with a 50 mm f3.5 Elmar lens and faux lizard skin body. Such cameras were produced only to special order and in very small numbers; just 95 of them were produced, of which few now survive. It remained in Newton’s private museum in England and later, along with much of his collection, was displayed at the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain in Bath, before passing to the Bonhams vendor.
This one was estimated at H.K.$1.2/1.8 million, or U.S.$155,000/232,500, but sold in the end for a staggering H.K.$7.46 million, or U.S.$962,490.
Another of these Luxus I cameras made an even higher sum, and a far, far higher than predicted $1,323,260 in a sale held the following day by specialist camera and photographica auctioneers Westlicht of Vienna, where Chinese buyers were also active.
This was a great result, but it was a later, and even rarer Leica camera that headed the price lists and sold for $2,179,480. This was M3D-2, one of only four M3D models specially made by Leitz for the Life photographer and close friend of the artist Pablo Picasso, David Douglas Duncan. It came with a special rewind and the photographer’s original belt. For the aficionado, this 1955 camera has a Summilux 1.4/15 mm lens.
Also seen in the Austrian sale was the very first serial-production M3 (1953, serial number 700001), formerly owned by Willi Stein, chief engineer of Leitz, for which bidding opened at $104,000 and closed only at $1,167,580!
It seems that the vintage camera market is on a roll!
Yet another famous English clock and watch maker was Daniel Quare (1647-1724), a strict Quaker who, as I always tell visitors when, in my guiding duties, I point out one of the prize pieces in the clock collections at Belmont House near my Kent home, refused to accept the prestigious position of Clockmaker to George I, as he was not prepared to take the Oath of Allegiance.
However, the piece featured here is not one of his many fine clocks, but a barometer offered by Sotheby’s on December 4, 2012, as part of an “Arts of Europe” sale. In 1695, Quare obtained a patent for portable barometers and all of his barometers have either walnut or ivory cases.
Gilt-brass mounted, this ivory pillar example of circa 1700, standing just over 3' tall, has a concealed tube with silvered plates engraved on one side with English weather indications and on the reverse with the same information in French. The upper rectangular casing (see detail illustration) has a central finial flanked by two further finials for controlling the recorders and is mounted above a revolving suspension loop and box section engraved and signed “Invented and Made by D Quare, London” and, in French, “Faits Portatiss par D Quare A Londres.” The ivory pillar is divided into four sections by gilt-brass collars, the lower one with an engraved band supporting four folding herm feet. It sold at $195,235.
The “Space Travellers’ Watch,” which led Sotheby’s sale of the George Daniels horological collection at $2,125,740.
The “Grand Complication Watch” of 1987, which reached $1,463,030.
The most expensive of the Daniels wristwatches was this four-minute tourbillon wristwatch with slim co-axial escapement and compact chronograph mechanism. It sold for $616,090.
Among Daniels’ collection of timepieces by earlier makers was this small, silver-mounted ebony case Roman striking table clock by Joseph Knibb, dated 1677, that sold for $2,036,180.
A one-day marine chronometer made in 1796 by “Pennington Pendleton and others…” to the specifications of Thomas Mudge, sold for $481,760 as part of the Daniels collection.
A Daniels co-axial chronograph of 1994 that sold for $1,051,075.
George Daniels, who died in 2011, has been described as the greatest watch maker since Abraham Breguet, who died almost 200 years ago, and one of the most influential watch makers of any age. Intent on improving on the lever escapement invented as long ago as 1754 by Thomas Mudge, Daniels eventually came up with the revolutionary co-axial escapement—designed to run unaffected by the deterioration of its lubricant, and the greatest horological innovation of the last two centuries.
It took him many years to perfect, and he initially encountered reluctance on the part of the leading Swiss watch makers to his invention—despite the telling demonstrations he was able offer by adapting their watches to use his co-axial escapement—but in 1999 he finally sold the rights to the commercial production of watches with co-axial escapements to Omega.
Daniels’ love for the mechanical extended beyond watch making—cameras from his collections feature in another of the sales reported in this month’s “Letter,” and in June 2012 his small but highly important collection of just seven rare and important cars was sold for around $16 million at the auction held by Bonhams to coincide with last year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed—but it is the landmark George Daniels horological collection, sold at Sotheby’s on November 6, 2012, that is the focus of this report.
One of 11 children who grew up in often difficult circumstances in London, George Daniels was very much the self-made man, but his remarkably successful watch making and inventing career was launched in 1949, when he enrolled at the Northampton Polytechnic for a three-year horology course.
For ten years after that, he worked as trade watch repairer and cleaner, but it was an introduction to antique pocket watches though Cecil Clutton, a man with whom he shared a passionate interest in old cars, that changed his life—so much so that within five years he was able to co-author a major treatise on the history of watches with Clutton.
By this time, the age of the independent, multi-skilled watch maker was long past, with large numbers of different craftsmen making interchangeable components—a process that gradually became automated.
Daniels, however, did it the old way, making everything from scratch himself, even the most delicate components, such as the extremely delicate detent at the heart of the chronometer escapement.
Daniels’ repair work on antique watches led him to an acquaintance with the timepieces of the French master horologist Abraham-Louis Breguet (1747-1823), and so admired was Daniels’ work that within a few years he was appointed Breguet’s London agent and in 1967 it was even suggested that he should take over the company, which at that time was involved solely with antiquarian timepieces.
Daniels, however, did not just want to emulate and match the workmanship of Breguet—and the fact that he achieved that was officially recognized in the acceptance of the replicas he made as worthy of the Breguet signature—he wanted to be better than Breguet. In 1975, he published the definitive study of Breguet, but by that time the name “Daniels, London” was becoming increasingly famous in the horological world for precision timepieces.
Work on the first true Daniels watch had begun in 1968, when he began the construction of those watches that he would make entirely to his own design and satisfaction and sell only when, and if, a suitable customer was found. Daniels wanted his watches to be instantly recognizable in style and to incorporate interesting mechanical features that would appeal to collectors. He wrote that a good watch has “historic, intellectual, technical, aesthetic, amusing and useful qualities.”
Over a 42-year career, he made just 23 pocket watches and four wristwatches, but each was an entirely handcrafted and a unique piece of mechanical art.
The collection offered at Sotheby’s, which focused the attention of the international collecting and dealing market, included pieces that he made and retained for his own pleasure, along with fine and rare clocks and watches by makers of earlier times.
It saw many items make far more than had been predicted and raised a total of $10.34 million, all of which will further boost the finances of the George Daniels Educational Trust, which supports not only the higher education of those involved in watch making, but students of engineering, medicine, and building construction as well.
The sale included just nine watches made by Daniels himself, and though all sold well, one of them set auction records for a watch by Daniels, for any English watch, and for the work of any independent watch maker.
“When you are on your package tour to Mars, you need a watch like this,” said Daniels of “The Space Travellers’ Watch,” a gold cased chronograph that incorporated his revolutionary independent double-wheel escapement and separate calculations for each train to indicate mean-solar time, which is the 24-hour day we all know, and sidereal time, which is used by astronomers to correctly aim their telescopes at the stars and is based on the Earth’s rate of rotation relative to a fixed star, roughly 23 hours, 56 minutes, and 4.1 seconds. It also features age and phase of the moon and equation of time indicators.
This remarkable watch, completed in 1982, owed its creation to Daniels’ regret at having sold his watch of 1974 to Swiss jewellery and watch collector Theodor Beyer. Daniels’ response to this personal, if not financial loss, was to start work on another, even more complex watch.
In 1988, Sotheby’s sold the first “Space Travellers’ Watch” in Geneva for 220,000 Swiss Francs (approximately $148,650); the one Daniels retained for his own enjoyment doubled its estimate to sell to a collector at $2,125,740.
Two other Daniels watches topped the $1 million mark. A “Grand Complication Watch” of 1987, which reached $1,463,030, is, as the name suggests, a watch that incorporates a great many functions—and one that was in fact expected to sell for more than the “Space Travellers’ Watch.” A yellow gold one-minute tourbillon, it incorporates Daniels’ slim co-axial escapement, minute repeating, instantaneous perpetual calendar, equation of time, moon-phases, thermometer, and power reserve indication.
A co-axial chronograph of 1994, a four-minute tourbillon watch with Daniels’ compact chronograph mechanism and 48-hour power reserve, got to $1,051,075.
The pick of the wristwatches in the Daniels collection was a chronograph of circa 1991. A yellow gold four-minute tourbillon wristwatch with slim co-axial escapement and compact chronograph mechanism, it sold for $616,090.
Among the timepieces by earlier makers in the Sotheby’s sale, the leader at $2,036,180 was a small, silver-mounted ebony case Roman striking table clock made by Joseph Knibb of London in 1677. A second Knibb, an ebony double six-hour grande sonnerie table clock of 1685, sold at $539,330.
Sold for $347,425 was a 1968 replica that Daniels made of a weight-driven, three-wheel skeleton clock with equation and annual calendar by Breguet—an exercise that so impressed the Breguet firm of the 20th century that that they certified it as worthy of the past master himself, and thus to be regarded as a true Breguet timepiece.
Signed “No. 24, Pennington Pendleton and others for the son of the inventor”—no less a figure than Thomas Mudge—was a one-day marine chronometer dated to 1796 that sold for $481,760. It was made to the specifications of Mudge, who had made the first such model 22 years earlier.
Originally published in the February 2013 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2013 Maine Antique Digest