The property of a European noble family until recent years.
Derek Roberts, “Continental and American Skeleton Clocks”, 1989, p. 35, pl. 22, illustrating a similar complex musical clock with an organ and a wooden pin barrel by J.van Hoof et Fils à Anvers in the Musée des Arts et Métiers, Paris. It is very likely that this rare musical and striking skeleton clock was made in Belgium by J. Van Hoof et Fils of Anvers (Antwerp) since it compares closely to one by the same firm of 1790 in the Musée des Arts et Métiers in Paris, discussed in Derek Roberts’ book and also by Arthur W.J.G. Ord-Hume, in his book “The Musical Clock”, 1995, p. 160.
A rare and extremely fine brass and steel musical and striking skeleton clock with remontoire of eight day duration attributed to J. Van Hoof et Fils à Anvers surmounted by a rotating star-studded sphere, marked around the central dial axis with the numbers 1-12 and engraved below: Anvers, Jerusalem, Samarkand, Surinam, J:ter Cere, Mindanao, Kamtschatka, J.Ste Croix, San Jago, Pensa Cola, the white enamel chapter ring with Roman numerals and blued steel hands for the hours and minutes, with a further calendar dial below showing the days, month and date, with a small watch dial and movement below with a white enamel dial within a paste brilliant bezel and steel hands, indicating time and advanced from the beat of the pendulum, with further subsidiary dials to the lower section, on the left marked Changé/Repeté and on the right marked Forte/Piano. The twin barrel movement with remontoire, dead beat escapement, a rotating pendulum and balance spring, with count wheel striking on a single bell followed by music at the hour, striking the other bell followed by music at the half hour, the musical movement with gut fusee playing six tunes from the pin barrel (measuring 21 cm) on fifteen bells via forty-one hammers. The case with an openwork frame supported on an ebonised inlaid brass-line rectangular base with rounded ends
Most probably Anvers (Antwerp), date circa 1790
Height 68.5 cm, width 47.5 cm, depth 25 cm.
Although the present clock is not signed it is significant that like the latter piece it is marked with various cities from around the globe. Although the positioning of the place names vary between the two, the one in the Musée des Arts et Métiers having the city names around the surmounting dial ring while here they are around the axis of the surmounting sphere, nevertheless in each the city of Anvers is in the most prominent position, i.e. directly above 12 o’clock. Few clocks of this period are marked in this way since Paris, rather than Anvers, was the main clockmaking centre in Europe. Thus the similarity in its overall design as well as the reference to the city of Anvers suggests that this clock was also made by J van Hoof. He was probably Judocus van Hoof (b. c. 1715 d.1789), the son of Petrus and Catherina van Hoof who was baptised on 14th February 1715 at Niel, just south of Antwerp and died in the same town on 6th September 1789. Among his children was Petrus Franciscus van Hoof (1760-1824) who was born at Niel and may well have carried on the family business after his father’s death. Among other known clocks by J. van Hoof of Anvers was one made for Notre-Dame Cathedral in the same city as well as a long case clock with complicated chimes which is simply signed van Hoof à Anvers.