Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin à Paris, Total Height 570 mm, circa 1860
A very fine, rare French table clock with "mystic" time indication "Mysterieuse"
Case: copper and firegilt brass, glass, wooden base. Dial: glass. Movm.: round brass full plate movement, anchor escapement, short pendulum.
Robert-Houdin’s second edition of the "Mysterieuse"
This clock is one of Robert-Houdin’s second "Mysterieuse" series, which have always fascinated and intrigued the observer – as they were intended to do . The clock is operated by a vertical mechanism which is driven by the movement through a number of shaft drives and screws, and links to another drive in turn controlling the dial. The dial conceals a small wheel which is connected to the edge of a round and very thin glass plate. The central hour hand moves with this plate. A second fixed glass plate behind it shows the hour numerals.
Illustrated and described in: Derek Roberts "Mystery, Novelty, and Fantasy Clocks", Kew Gardens, Surrey 1999, p. 219ff
Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin (1805-1871)
Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin learned the craft of clockmaking from his father in Blois. He later went to Paris and married the daughter of a clockmaker. He had always been fascinated by magic and was happy to have the opportunity to perfect his skills in Paris. An enthusiast of mechanical instruments and optics, Robert-Houdin started to build automatons and clocks with cleverly concealed mechanisms; he soon began to make use of his knowledge of the natural sciences when working on his magic arrangements. The famous American performer Houdini, a Jewish Hungarian magician and escape artist, was heavily influenced by Robert-Houdin and choose his stage name in his honour.