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Fontaine's February 27 Auction Grosses $1.6 Million

Pair of rare Chinese animated bracket clocks realize a combined $435,600 at Fontaine’s Auction Gallery’s February 27th Catalog Auction
PITTSFIELD, Mass.  Two Chinese animated bracket clocks  one a rare two-sided model, the other a triple fusee example  sold for a combined $435,600 at a cataloged antique and clock auction held February 27th by Fontaine s Auction Gallery, in the firm s gallery at 1485 West Housatonic Street in Pittsfield. In all, 510 lots changed hands in a sale that grossed $1.6 million.
The two-sided clock, which was set up for two time zones, was the auction s top lot, realizing a robust $332,750. It showed a Chinese theme on one side and a Western theme on the other. The gilt bronze clock featured an animated, two-tier revolving carousel of figures at the top, rotating clockwise. The upper tier had a multi-rhinestone border and glass rods that resembled a fountain.
The triple fusee clock, housed in a carved teak wood bracket case, was the sale s runner-up top lot, bringing $102,850. It was in beautiful condition, with the original finish, and boasted a series of rods that rotated, emulating falling rain, while a row of ducks swam right to left in the front. All the while, two carved wood Chinese acrobat figures on a platform appeared and disappeared.
The auction featured antique clocks (by names such as E. Howard & Co., Seth Thomas, Ansonia, Ithaca, Elmer O. Stennes, Walter Durfee and others), antique furniture (by makers such as John H. Belter, J. & J. W. Meeks and R.J. Horner), watches, chronometers, barometers, lamps, art glass, historical and political items, toys, banks, oil paintings, statuary, musical items and more. 
“I knew we had put together a nice sale, with fine estate merchandise in a variety of desirable categories, but there was so much advance buzz in the days leading up to auction, I had to go back and look to see what all the fuss was about,” said John Fontaine of Fontaine’s Auction Gallery.  “That’s when I realized, hey, we really do have a great sale on our hands.”
And it was. A packed gallery of about 125 people attended the event in person, while 1,200 others bid online via (the most ever for a Fontaine s auction). Another 800 or so bid online using the platform. A bank of phones was kept busy throughout the sale, and a good number of absentee bids were recorded as well. Between the two, there were 300 bidders.

Following are additional highlights from the auction. All prices quoted include a 21 percent buyer’s premium.

  • Clock collectors and horologists will instantly recognize the name E. Howard & Co. (Boston). They are a staple at many Fontaine’s auctions and this one was no exception. Examples included a street post clock so stately and large (140 inches tall) it had to be picked up by the buyer from the estate location. It gaveled for $41,140. Also, an E. Howard & Co. No. 82 grandfather clock, quite impressive in size at 100 inches tall and housed in a fine mahogany case, fetched $13,310.
  • A full-sized violin by Giovanni Battista Ceruti of Italy, dated 1801, with two bows, sporting an amber finish with nice patina and contained in a suspension case, brought $22,990.
  • The lamps and lighting category had several star lots, including an impressive pair of fancy brass and iron hanging theater lights, crafted by Black & Boyd Mfg. Co. (N.Y.) and pulled from the old York Theater in Athol, Mass., where they were installed in the late 1920s. The pair went for $20,570.
  • Two outstanding sculptures did exceptionally well. One was a bronze creation by Dimitri Chiparus (Rom./Fr., 1886-1947), titled Fille au Pyjama (Girl in Pajamas), of a girl standing in her pajamas, stretching as if waking up, 18 ½ inches tall. It went for $22,990. The other, a large bronze sculpture of two hounds ( Pompier and  Caron ) tied to a tree trunk, a horn hanging on a branch above them, by Auguste Nicolas Cain (Fr., 1822-1894), 25 inches tall, rose to $9,680.
  • Tiffany lamps and lighting are always a big hit. An exceptional Tiffany Studios bronze and art glass chandelier with six arms and beautiful matching gold iridescent stalactite glass shades, 53 inches tall, with excellent medium-dark brown patina, illuminated the crowd for $21,175, while a Tiffany Studios banded Dogwood table lamp, 27 inches tall, with 18-inch signed domical shade having a geometric brick pattern background in excellent mottled dichroic glass, made $36,300.
  • From the furniture category, a large two-door walnut Queen Anne three-hinge cabinet desk made by Wooten Desk Mfg. Co. (Indianapolis, Ind.), with spindled gallery top, carved and turned finials, in beautiful condition with an overcoated original finish, brought $16,335; and a three-piece R. J. Horner carved mahogany parlor set  a sofa and armchair with excellent pierced swirling filigree carved crests with seashell center, and matching sidechair  finished at $13,310.
  • Returning to clocks, a mahogany one-year Biedermeier Laterndluhr wall regulator with signed 9-inch porcelain dial, black Roman hour numerals and a sub-seconds dial, all in a fine mahogany Laterndluhr-style case with striped inlays, breezed to $27,225; and a George Jones astronomical floor regulator with a massive 17-inch bronze astronomical dial with sweep minute hand, housed in a beautiful 92-inch-tall walnut case, sold within estimate when it knocked down for $16,940. A French industrial animated clock on a marble base, with a brass and black metal case in the form of an early automobile, with the driver’s side of the cab having a 2-inch porcelain clock dial and silvered engraved barometer dial, roared off for $24,200; while a rare Houdin glass dial mystery swinger clock with a signed, seven-inch beveled glass dial and pierced-decorated and engraved gilt hands with counter balance and small mystery escapement, topped out at $12,100.

Fontaine’s Auction Gallery is the oldest operating auction gallery in Western Massachusetts. It has earned the trust of collectors, investors and gallery owners worldwide. All cataloged lots receive nationwide exposure to the firm s database of more than 19,000 select buyers. Seven times Fontaine’s Auction Gallery has been voted  Best Antique Auction Gallery by the public.
Fontaine’s Auction Gallery is actively seeking quality items, to include furniture, lighting, clocks and watches, paintings, porcelains, bronze and marble statuary, Asian items, art glass and cameo glass, Russian objects, silver, musical, coin-op, advertising, toys, banks, gaming and carousel items for future sales. Consignments are currently being accepted for all the upcoming auctions. The firm will buy outright or accept on consignment fine antiques, collections or entire estates. Call (413) 448-8922 and ask to speak with John Fontaine, or you can send Mr. Fontaine an e-mail to For more information about the company and the upcoming three cataloged sales in 2016, please visit Updates are posted often.

Fontaine’s February 27 Auction Grosses $1.6 Million