The auction’s top lot was a rare and important Holtzapffel & Co. rose engine lathe, No. 1636, which sold for $228,000, well above its estimate high of $90,000.
Two years in the making, this lathe was originally sold for a price reportedly “in excess of 1,500 pounds sterling” on Dec. 20, 1838 to a London civil engineer, John Taylor Esquire (1779-1863). It is the most complex and fully featured rose engine lathe that Holtzapffel ever made. Of this particular lathe, John Jacob Holtzapffel II wrote in 1886: it is “ … one of three, the last and best we have made.”
Exceptional Holtzapffel turning tools with ivory handles brought $43,200. The ivory-handled tools, displayed in a large mahogany cabinet, amply demonstrate the excellence of Holtzapffel tools. It is likely that these were exhibition tools, shown by Holtzapffel in 1851 at the London Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations.
Items from the Theodore R. Crom watch collection were the subject of highly competitive bidding. “Ted” Crom was an internationally recognized expert on horological tools, watches and clocks. Skinner sold Crom’s tool collection in May 2010: the largest public offering of horological tools ever presented and the sale generated international attention. Similarly, the Crom collection of early watches represented one of the most important offerings of rare timepieces in recent times. An international audience of buyers participating by phone, online and in the salesroom bid the price on many of these items to outstanding levels.
The collection’s top seller, a Barrauds enamel and pearl-set open face gold watch circa 1813, surpassed its estimate high of $5,000, bringing $67,650. A Samuel Ruel enameled pair case watch circa 1715 with decorative enamel elements, snakeskin outer case and faux pendulum sold strongly for $58,425. A Jean Rousseau tulip-form gilt-brass and rock crystal watch circa 1640 also produced an excellent result, selling for $34,440.
Notable clock sales include an E. Howard & Co. No. 23 90-day astronomical regulator from Boston circa 1870, which sold for $150,000. A dent ebonized quarter-chiming table clock circa 1870 brought an impressive $61,500. This item set a Skinner record for most phone bids on a single item.
In response to the high-volume of bidding, Robert Cheney, director of science, technology and clocks at Skinner, remarked, “If you bring truly unique and rare objects to the marketplace, the bidders respond.”
Skinner hosts two science, technology and clocks sales annually. For more information on upcoming auctions and events, visit Skinner’s web site www.skinnerinc.com.
View the fully illustrated catalog, complete with prices realized, at www.LiveAuctioneers.com.
ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE