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Ansonia Porcelain Clock - Royal Bonn Case

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Posted 5 years ago

(2 items)

This was my great grandfather's. Believed to been made in late 1800's - early 1900's. The identifier on the bottom of the back is faint but looks like La Tsern, La Tsem or maybe La Jsern or La Jsem. I have searched all over but cannot find one like it.
It is 14 1/4" wide from foot to foot & 12 " high. The dial face is 5 " across.

I sure would appreciate any help in identifying this piece.

Mystery Solved


  1. maryh1956 maryh1956, 5 years ago
    made by Royal Bonn-Franz Anton Mehlem between 1888-1920. The name underneath is probably the title of the scene- Les Frere? (brother?) I think they made cases for several clock makers
  2. Bruce99 Bruce99, 5 years ago
    This clock is absolutely beautiful and has everything that Ansonia Porcelain Clock Collectors usually look for when adding to their collection!

    As maryh1956 has already stated, you have a "Royal Bonn" Porcelain Mantel Clock. Of the several different sources of porcelain cases used for Ansonia clocks, Royal Bonn porcelain is arguably the finest and most sought after by the majority of Ansonia collectors.

    Your model is called the "La Isere" which I believe refers to a river in France...hence the hand painted scene of a couple. It is from circa 1914 and can be found on page 627 of the Tran Duy Ly "Ansonia Clocks and Watches" reference book.

    This decorative style is also highly sought after by most Royal Bonn collectors and I would suppose that the scene is set along Isere river bank. Most Ansonia Porcelain clocks feature lovely flowers, but those depicting scenes with a subject (or subjects) are relatively rare.

    Your clock features the double porcelain dial with the "Brocot", or open (visible) escapement accented with ruby pallets....again, a highly sought after feature of these types of clocks. I'm not certain of the ruby pallets. Perhaps you could confirm that? To me the escapement appears to have the red, or jeweled in your photo.

    Finally, I just love the style and shape of the case. I find it simple, yet elegant. Flowing, like the river it is named after.

    In 1914, it retailed for $17.50 which is the equivalent to just over $400 in 2013.

    I would say that this clock has appreciated in value over the years. Porcelain is fragile and these types of clocks, in excellent condition, become increasingly rare with time.

    I would say that this is a rare Ansonia Royal Bonn Clock. It was appraised by Tran Duy Ly in 2004 at $1,000. I can find no auction results for this model and so I would guess that most serious Collectors would bid at least that much for it. If you had an auction with several serious collectors, it could possibly go for more.

    I hope this information has helped. If your mystery is "solved", please indicate so in your listing.

    It's really a very nice clock. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  3. Bruce99 Bruce99, 5 years ago
    I failed to mention that condition is everything. Tran Duy Ly's appraisals are for original, mint examples. Damage to the porcelain case, dial or movement can quickly diminish value. The only condition issue I see with your clock is a faint hairline crack in the porcelain-enamel chapter ring between the "I" and "II". All things considered, I think that issue is insignificant. Take care.
  4. danlnga, 5 years ago
    I added another segment which apparently came as a new posting. I can see the ruby escapement that you pointed out. What caught my eye that I had missed before, is the numbers under the base 4 1 90. I am wondering now if this might have been the firing date for the case.

    again................Thank you for your assistance , Dan
  5. danlnga, 5 years ago
    I guess I am getting a bit carried away. I failed to mention that in addition to the flowers on the sides there are very fine golden outlines of flowers across the top as well. The porcelain is almost pristine except for a very fine crack which moves across the womans chest (7 oclock to 1 oclock). It reaches from about her waist to the edge of her hat. I have had this clock since the late 60's and the only thing I have ever used to clean it is a damp, soft cloth.
    If the manufacture date of 1890 is correct that would about match mr great grandfather's wedding in the early 1890's. He was born in 1861 and went to work for the NC&StL Railroad at 19 and they forced him to retire at 94. He was the only employee to ever work there for 75 years. Needless to say this clock has very special meaning to me.
    Thanks agian.
  6. Bruce99 Bruce99, 5 years ago
    That's all the information I have. My sources say the clock model is from circa 1914. It was no doubt available at least a couple of years before and after that, but I have doubts about it being available in 1890. It's a very nice clock. Please be sure to indicate that your mystery has been solved, if your questions have been answered.
  7. Bruce99 Bruce99, 5 years ago
    Regarding the cracked porcelain. It certainly doesn't detract from the clock's appearance. It almost looks as though the woman is holding something. Crazing and minor hairline cracking is something that should really be expected. Chips and missing or glued-on/repaired pieces are condition issues which really start to impact the value of the clock. Yours is really well cared for and I'm sure a price-less heirloom to you. Does it still run?
  8. danlnga, 5 years ago
    It runs although it sure is picky. It sits on my grt grandfather's library table in our living room with a dime under the left front foot & a nickel under the left rear foot. Without these........it will run for about a minute or so & quit. It chimes on the hour & half hour and keeps good time. I do think it needs servicing, so I am seeking a qualified clock man in northeast GA. I got the link you sent for the local group & will check with them. I cannot believe that I had not noticed the 4 1 90 before, but when I learned the name yesterday, it sparked renewed interest. I had tried to identify it several years ago & got discouraged. I am wondering now, since I looked for some 4 hours on the internet for this style case with no luck, if this had maybe been a limited run or they just did not manufacture that many. The level of detail is extensive & maybe it priced itself out of range at $17.50 (I had to put that in) and it did not sell that well because of a high retail price by comparison to others. Just a guess.
  9. Bruce99 Bruce99, 5 years ago
    I see...you've been over to the NAWCC message board. Yes? One of the Moderators, Harold Bain, is a very friendly and helpful person. I just found your posting over there through a Google Search for this clock.

    Regarding the numbers, it's hard to tell. It seems to be a pretty rare model. Regarding the price, wealthy individuals seem to weather economic ups and downs just fine...certainly much better than the rest of us, eh?

    By the way, Ansonia was an American Clock manufacturer (although they sold out to a Russian Company in the late 1920s). You have this in a second category of German or Austrian Clocks. You could add a second category of "Mantel Clocks" in addition to Ansonia. If you haven't done so already, check out the Collectors Weekly article on the Ansonia company at: http://www.collectorsweekly.com/clocks/ansonia. You'll find it to be a good, concise, accurate summary of the Company's history.


  10. Bruce99 Bruce99, 5 years ago
    I see that you wish to focus on the manufacturer of the case. Okay, technically, that doesn't make it a German Clock but I won't argue the point. If you're interested, here's an Antique Roadshow segment on Royal Bonn's "White Earthenware". http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/roadshow/archive/201005A21.html
    Evidently Royal Bonn pottery was fired at a lower temperature, which makes for a lower value, more fragile porcelain product. However the painting and decoration was done by hand, which makes the final product more valuable in that sense. The "hand finished" quality of Royal Bonn is what stands out to me. In addition to the hand painting, the shape is well formed. You won't find any seams or manufacturing artifacts in Royal Bonn cases.
  11. danlnga, 5 years ago
    There is no doubt about the craftmanship in the decoration of this piece. I spent 35 years with the fin/marketing div of Chrysler Corp & they moved us aroud a bit. This clock never went with the moving truck. It was aways packed with care & I carried it both because of the clock itself & the family tie.
    My interest at this point lies with trying to reasonably establish a date of manufacture & perhaps the number of this pattern produced. I have talked with my ins agent about trying to establish a value for insurability. In my search to ID this clock, I saw a La Verdon for sale on ebay for $2600. I know that asking price & purchase price can have a wide margin but I far from knowledgeable when it comes to Ansonia (Royal Bonn) product. So I seek information from the folks who know, like you . Thanks for your help.
  12. Zowie Zowie, 5 years ago
    I am glad you received so much information if you do send it to Auction make sure it is a specialised one as then you may get the money it is worth.
  13. Bruce99 Bruce99, 5 years ago
    Tran Duy Ly's books are not the only references out there, of course, but he has set the standard.

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