Lot No. 429 (92nd Auction)
Jean Baptiste Johann à Mayence, Height 960 mm, circa 1800

An important astronomical wall clock with perpetual calendar and "Grande Sonnerie" - 8 days power reserve
Case: walnut, veneered, brass mountings, matching curved bracket, the front with framed aperture for the controlling of the pendulum, flanked pair of Tuscan column, waved pediment with pine cone finials. Dial: enamel, Roman hours, centre seconds, signed, three subsidiary dials for indications of the weekday, month and date, firegilt, pierced hands. Movm.: square brass full plate movement, moulded movement pillars, 2 hammers / 2 bells, lateral weight driven, Graham escapement, pendulum spring suspension, brass pendulum bob.

Baptist Johann (1765-1826) of Steinach was a German Augustinian monk and maker of astronomical clocks.

It is likely that Michael Baptist was in his older brother’s shadow for most of his life, which explains why we know much less about him than about his better-known brother Nikolaus Alexius. However, he also had a talent for music and built astronomical clocks just like Nikolaus Alexius.

In 1779, at the age of 14, Michael Baptist started attending the Johann-Philipp-von-Schönborn-Gymnasium in Muennerstadt; the school was run by the Order of St. Augustine. On April 23, 1780 he became a member of the Sodality of Our Lady (Congregatio Mariae Virginis de Consolatione) and after finishing school he began studying theology at the University of Wuerzburg on November 26, 1784.

Afterwards he joined the Augustinian monastery in Muennerstadt as a novice. Only a short time later his superiors sent him to the monastery in Speyer, which was at the time part of the same ecclesiastical province as Muennerstadt and Mainz. Michael Baptist took his vows on October 21, 1786 and chose the name Johannes Baptista. In 1787 he was sent to the Uttenweiler monastery to complete his theological studies. He was ordained as a priest on September 27, 1789 and is mentioned in the records as confessor, preacher and organist. Five years later (1794) Baptist was transferred to Mainz.

In 1809 he followed his brother to Heidesheim on the Rhine as a vicar; after retirement the two brothers moved back to Mainz into the house of heir friend, mathematics professor Mathias Metternich, in Grosse Pfaffengasse. Both acted as vicars at Mainz Cathedral until the elder brother died on July 28, 1826. He left his first world clock to his younger brother under the proviso that it was to be left to the city of Mainz after Michael’s death. Lonely and in ill-health, Michael Johann moved back to his birthplace Steinach in August, where he lodged with the widow Neugebauer because the house of his parents had been sold. The widow Neugebauer looked after his health and his daily regimen, however, Michael died on September 26, only two months after his brother.

During his time in Mainz Michael Baptist Johann became a self-taught expert in mathematics and cosmology as well as in technology and mechanics; like his brother he constructed and built several astronomical clocks, calling himself a "priestly mechanic". According to Juergen Abeler, six empire-style wall clocks by Baptist exist and are signed "Jean Baptiste Johann à Mayence"; at least four of them are known to have been in private hands in the 1970s. One of them was owned by music publisher Ludwig Strecker sen. (1853-1943) in Mainz and another by diocese registrar Franz Falk (1840-1909); a third clock belonged to Dr.phil Rudolf Busch, custodian of the Mainzer Gemäldegalerie.
Source:, as of 10/09/2015
Estimate  18,000 - 24,000 €

Price Realised  26,100 €
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