Presented by Jonathan Snellenburg
Around the turn of the 19th century, not long after the Willard family established their clock manufactory, there appeared in America a French bronze clock displaying the figure of George Washington.
Although the Washington clocks are unlike anything in the Anglo-American clock making tradition, they occupy a position similar to the Willard clocks in the evolution of clock manufacture.
Just as the Willards would have incorporated technical advances in English clock making, the multiple examples of the Washington clock were made possible by the half century of collaboration between Parisian clock makers and bronze workers. The result in both cases were clocks made in a uniform pattern, but which still differ in detail from one clock to another.
The era in which they were designed, the turn of the 19th century, was a pivotal time in the evolution of domestic clocks. Until the end of the 18th century, clocks were produced in limited quantities at a cost afforded only by the affluent few. But, during the 18th century domestic clocks became a highly desirable decorative accessory. The result was a growing demand that transformed the clock from expensive luxury to affordable commodity. Using the Washington clock as an example, this talk traces how some of the innovations developed by 18th century French clockmakers made low cost clock manufacture possible.
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ABOUT JONATHAN SNELLENBURG
Jonathan Snellenburg joined Bonhams New York as the Director of Fine Watches and Clocks in 2009.
His education started at Dartmouth College where he studied history and geology. He then received a PhD in geochemistry from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. This led to a post-doctoral fellowship at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and later, a position as a staff gemologist for the Gemological Institute of America.
He then joined Christie's at its new East gallery as head of its Jewelry and Silver Departments. By the time he left in 1993, as Senior Vice President and Head of the Watch and Clock Department, he had organized sales in a variety of fields and cataloged numerous items, including watches, clocks, jewelry, silver, furniture, scientific instruments and rare books. He then moved on to open his own business as a dealer, consultant and appraiser and was on the Board of Directors for the National Antique & Art Dealers Association of America.
He is a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers in London and a member of the Horological Society of New York. He has participated frequently as an appraiser on the PBS's Antiques Roadshow. He is also a member of the Watch and Clock and the Antique Jewelry and Objets de Vertu vetting committees for the Winter Show, held each January at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City.