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Singing Bird Watch: M.7 & A-C-1948

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


Singing Bird Watch


Watchmaker: Bassereau, Jean Hillaire




Cylinder singing bird watch in gold and enamel case.

MOVEMENT: Full plate movement engraved 'HILRE. BASSEREAU N. 532 INT ET FEC. T'. Top plate shaped to accomodate bellows and pipe. Polished steel lever work. Central cylindrical box with painted polychrome enamel lid, depicting a bird on a branch against a background of a moor with mountains behind. Lid opens to reveal a gilt plate engraved with stems and flowers, with opening to take the bird.
The bird (A), which pivots up and rotates when the lid is opened, has a brass body covered with feathers, and has articulated beak and wings.
Pillar plate with three gilt, cylindrical pillars and one rectangular pillar of blued steel. Polished steel balance cock, open table, polished steel coquette over polished steel regulator. Gold balance. Polished steel fusee set-up ratchet (for bird song) and winding-up wheels. Polished steel time winding click. Bar for time. Second and third wheels, second wheel recessed. Gilt brass cock for song 'balance' fly, fly in hole plate. Plate edge engraved. Applied time dial at 6 o'clock. Going barrel, and small time train. Ruby cylinder escapement, steel escape. wheel. Time train planted anti-clockwise. Song train with fusee and chain, stack of four cams driven by idler, two cam followers pumped, after one cam revolution, by cam above plate. One cam follower controls pipe length (note) and raises and lowers bird, other follower controls air to whistle, and controls bird's wings and beak. Train speed controlled by endless-screw and 'balance' fly. Song train planted anti-clockwise.

DIAL: Gold. Outer dotted minute ring, vertical applied silver Arabic chapters set with diamonds, inner ring of applied diamonds, centre matted.

HANDS: Blued steel, Breguet type.

CASE: Gold and enamel. Cylindrical body, outside having ring of diamond shapes, enamelled in blue with gold design, and circles, enamelled in black with gold designs. Hinged back cover with outer ring of diamond shapes, decorated with gold and black enamel, a circle of blue enamel stars then a ring of black enamel with gold decoration around bird plaque. Front cover as back, but small time dial at 6 o'clock with ring of black enamel, with gold decoration. Plain gold pendant, wasted stem, round top, with fixed push piece, oval bow with ball ends. Maker's mark 'JS' or 'IS' with a pellet above and below within a lozenge. Assay mark for a second standard gold 1798-1809. Exercise mark for medium-sized gold and silver 1798-1809. An illegible mark with a 2 on the right side. Impressed mark '150'. Dealer's scratch mark '55041'.
Bow of later date, after 1821. Stamped with the head of a horned cow, a dog's head looking to the right, and a ram's head looking to the left.

KEYS: Two (B & C)


History note: Alexander H.B. Beresford Hope to whom given by his mother, Lady Beresford Hope in 1841, the year he came of age; by descent to the donor

Legal notes

Given by Miss Mildred Beresford Hope

Measurements and weight

Height: 73 mm
Thickness: 19 mm
Width: 61.75 mm

Relative size of this object

6.2 m7.3 m1.9 m What does this represent?

Relative size of this object is displayed using code inspired by Good Form and Spectacle's work on the British Museum's Waddeson Bequest website and their dimension drawer. They chose a tennis ball to represent a universally sized object, from which you could envisage the size of an object.

Place(s) associated

  • Paris ⪼ France

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (1948) by Hope, Mildred Beresford


Late 18th-early 19th century
Circa 1798 CE - 1809 CE

Components of the work

Movement composed of gilt brass gilt
Movement, Case composed of enamel
Movement, Dial, Case composed of gold
Dial composed of silver
Movement, Hands composed of steel
Case, Dial Glass composed of glass

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: the RE is raised and the T at the end of INT and FECT

  • Location: On movement
  • Method of creation: Engraved
  • Type: Inscription

Inscription present: JS or IS with a pellet above and below in a lozenge

  • Text: JS or IS, pellet above and below
  • Location: On case
  • Method of creation: Struck
  • Type: Maker's mark
  • Location: Case
  • Type: Assay mark
  • Location: Case
  • Type: Excise mark
  • Text: head of a horned cow, with a 'P' between the horns
  • Location: Bow
  • Type: Mark
  • Text: dog's head looking right
  • Location: Bow
  • Type: Mark
  • Text: ram's head looking to the left
  • Type: Restricted warranty mark

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: M.7 & A-C-1948
Primary reference Number: 167270
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Friday 24 August 2018 Last processed: Wednesday 24 March 2021

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2023) "Singing Bird Watch" Web page available at: Accessed: 2023-03-30 16:41:23

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{{cite web|url= |title=Singing Bird Watch |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2023-03-30 16:41:23|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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