Posted 2 years ago
I like Flamingos (not the yard art variety), and I have a friend who knows this bit of triva about me she and her boyfriend gave me the most kitschiest gift of a flamingo TV lamp replete with seashells and palm threes, it sets on the tank of my commode in the bathroom. In the past she has joked about my many clocks, never mind that I repaired her Telechron clock by replacing the rotor. My friend has a house full of exoctic birds about 10 or 12. I am sure a number of you know where this was going, but it is not now.
I removed the movement to clean and oil it and noticed a mark on it, a capital "R". So I posted a picture of the movement and of the clock only (see third picture) on the NAWCC (National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors) website hoping someone could identify the maker.
The reply I received didn't indentify the movment's maker but gave me a history of the clock and its garniture/vases.
The Genesis of the Ceramic Clock
Between the two wars, when you stepped in a common home in Belgium or in the North of France, you would inevitably notice a superb ceramic clock proudly standing on the chimney mantel with its two sidepieces.
It was indeed an unstoppable craze which gave birth to tens of millions of creative clocks, with an extraordinary variety of shapes and decorations. It owes its origin with the development of the mechanical industry.
Indeed up to the middle of the 19th century, a clock was an expensive object: its clockwork was hand made. The possession of time was thus reserved to the elite. Alarm-clocks started to be produced industrially around 1850; but it was only at the beginning of the twentieth century that clockworks, manufactured in the Black Forest and France, became really cheap. Ceramic (faence) was then the inexpensive "plastic" material: in the ceramic producing areas, it was chosen to dress these clockworks: clock became handsome and affordable to everybody.
Therefore in the Twenties a significant industry of the faence clock developed in Belgium and North of France. And because owning the time was important in the developing industrial world, the ceramic clock ended up in the focus point of the house, the chimney. It became a mantelpiece ornament, the clock being surrounded by two sidepieces, vases or cups. In the twenties and the thirties, it was not only a valuably useful object, it was also the nice object of the house, proudly and conspicuously decorating the chimney mantel.
To satisfy the unprejudiced taste of this new market, ceramic producers were very creative. The clock shape sometimes recall that of middle-class bronze or marble clocks; some bear animals or peoples sculptures; others refer to the Art-Deco architecture or to Greek temples.
Their decorations are also infinitely varied, often very colored, sometimes extravagant. Some imitate marble or stone, others refer to modern decorative styles, to Chinese or Dutch porcelains, to traditional tableware or to avant-garde modernistic painting. Often the decoration matches the shape and bear transfers or stencil drawings especially created. The sidepieces topic, shape and decoration match those of the clock, contributing to the esthetics of the mantelpiece.
The Belgian Clock (My set is Belgian)
Most Belgian ceramic clocks were produced in the south-west coal-mining region called the Borinage. The two factories which truly dominated the ceramic clock market were in the same small village of Wasmuël (now attached to the town of Quaregnon).
The first one, initially named "Auguste Mouzin et Cie" (AMC) then "La Faencerie de Wasmuël", functioned from 1878 to 1951. It produced mainly fine quality ceramic pieces. To diversify it's income, it started around 1910 a massive production of mantel-clocks: more than a hundred models with several decorations each, which were the bottom-end of their production
On the other hand the second one, "La Majolique Wasmuël " (1904-1960), mainly produced common ceramic objects: the mantelpiece clocks were their top-end production. They made a hundred models with many decorations, often into two or three sizes.
In addition to the two factories of Wasmuël, some other ceramic factories also lead the Belgian market. Among those, the factory of Thulin (1863-1971) created about sixty models, decorated with melting enamels dripping on one other. The factory Terra in Jemappes (1915-1966) was also very productive: about fifty models, decorated with all kinds of techniques.
Several other factories of the Borinage had a small production:
•the factory Antoine Dubois (or Bergen) in Mons (1920-1950) produced a score of models, in many decorations,
•a factory in Tertre produced about fifteen models, often in brown and white colors,
•the famous factory of Nimy (1789-1951) created at least 7 models
•the family factory Wilfried Collart in Baudour (1936-1956) produced some models, all hand-painted by the daughter of the founder
•the small factory Lebrun in Quaregnon (1936-1940) created about ten models
•the great factory Boch Keramis in La Louvire (Center) only produced a few models
•finally, several other factories, yet to be identified, produced also some clocks.
Flemish factories (Turhout, Kortrijk, Brugge...) only produced a few models, generally decorated with a technique similar to that of Thulin.
Let's finally mention the Minerva clocks: imposing, they were probably contracted by a Belgian importer of clockworks.
After the second war, the ceramic mantelpiece clock production significantly decreased and their quality went down. Most factories were forced into bankruptcy. However a new factory, Hubert Bequet, in Quaregnon (1942-1974), kept on producing successfully quite a score of models.
I love it when clocks teach history.
Besides the R the movement is marked Made in France of the dial it ran beautifully when cleaned and oiled. The clock measures 11" tall, 12" across and approx. 3" wide. The clock has the numbers "333" imprinted on the bottom. Each vase measures 9 1/2" tall, 4" across and 2 1/4" wide. They both have the number "306" imprinted on bottom.
It is a clock from Belgian “Faïencerie de Wasmuël”, also called “ Auguste Mouzin et Cie” or “AMC”, in Wasmuël (Belium, near Mons).
It probably dates from 1945 – 1950. The infomation below is from Jacques de Selliers at the Clockarium Museum
Jacques de Selliers
Mobile: +32 (0)475 55 20 26