Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Further Thoughts: Rentzsch and Berrollas


My article entitled, The Novel Technology of Sigismund Rentzsch, was published in the September 2017 issue of Clocks Magazine.  Rentzsch’s contemporary, Joseph Anthony Berrollas, was the subject of my article published in Volume 38, Number 2, (June 2017), of Antiquarian Horology, journal of the Antiquarian Horological Society.  I referred to these two distinctive watchmakers in the post here of 8 June 2017.

Both have been featured in enquiries I’ve subsequently received, confirming the especially interesting nature of their lives and work.

Regarding JAB, a horology enthusiast kindly sent me details of Berrollas timepieces he has owned, most particularly a drum alarm, #1500:



Having also owned a Berrollas carriage clock, my correspondent was able to reflect on the maker’s apparently peripatetic lifestyle between England and the Continent.  He comments: ‘His English work has French characteristics, and the French clocks have English details. On his English clocks I have only seen going barrels, not fusees. On the French clock escapements there are English details, like the recessed index, jewelling & hairspring stud, as on my carriage clock, (on the main spring of which is the date 1842).

He adds: ‘About 30 years ago I looked at a similar clock to #1500, in The Museum of the History of Science in Oxford.  The Museum’s example is signed, James McCabe, and the curator had no wish to be told that Berrollas had made it!’

I would like to think that my article on Rentzsch would have been a further contribution towards his profile, though this should have already been high enough to support the notion that examples of his work merit above-average valuation as they come to the market from time to time; certainly I would expect to Rentzsch to be considered ‘collectable.’  So I’m somewhat surprised that it has been possible to acquire a good-looking example in 2020 for less than £600.

Dating from 1807, the open face pocket watch featured in a Bonham’s sale last month:



Reverting to 2017, shortly before my Clocks Magazine article was published, this Rentzsch alarm came up for sale at Auktionen Dr. Crott, Frankfurt Airport:



Circa 1830, it was described in the catalogue:

An exquisite “Pendule de Bureau” with “Petite Sonnerie” and alarm.  Case: brass; Dial: silvered;  Movm.: circular brass full plate movement, heavy gold screw chronometer balance, 2 x chain/fusee, 3 hammers/1 bell.

A good deal of quality and plenty of horological interest/complication I’d suggest in return for the modest €1,500 winning bid.

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