Beethoven and the Art of Horology – The Watches of Beethoven – Part 2

Published in Neue Beethoven Studien Vol 11 (2014) – Luigi Bellofatto (Bovisio Masciago) – Armando Orlandi (San Biagio di Valpolcevera – Genova) Beethoven and the Art of Horology. The watches of Beethoven, Tobias Haslinger and Alexander W. Thayer Part 2: Addenda and Corrigenda.

A. Pocket watch Rost

Two events occurred after the publication of the first part of this article that suggested to the authors (1) that they augment the description of the pocket watch marked Rost 1797 shown in the photographic collection of the Beethoven-Haus (sign. 738/ a-b-c. and Ley, Band VI, no. 1141).

The first of these events was the recent auction sale that took place in Potsdam on April 16, 2011,(2) where this watch was sold. This sale allowed the authors to watch a high-definition video,(3) as well as view a series of photographs that proved decisive for the description of this item.The second event was Armando Orlandi’s purchase of a pocket watch by the same Maison (maker) and with the same mechanism as the one supposedly owned by Beethoven.

It was purchased in June of 2011 from an antiquarian watch-dealer in Sofia. If we analyze the series of photographs of the auction catalogue in Potsdam, they show very interesting details (that of course could not have been included in the first part of the article) especially as regards the movement. These details were not shown in the photographs belonging to the Beethoven-Haus, dating to about 90 years ago, nor in the ones in the Ley collection.

In Fischhoff’s copy of the Verzeichnis des Beethovenschen Nachlasses found in the estate of Otto Jahn and then passed to A.W. Thayer, it states that: (1)

Die Auction fand statt 5. Nov. 1827 am Kohlmarkt No. 1149 hintere Stiege 2. Stock, unter Leitung des Schatzmeisters Anton Grafer Gesammtertrag 1140 f. 18 C.M. Gerichtliche (oder Berichtliche?) Inventur und Schatzung iiber das Verlassen-schafts Vermogen des den 26. Marz 1827 mit Testament verstorbenen Herrn Ludwig van Beethoven, Tonsetzer No. 200 in der Alservorsadt, seel, durch 8 Tage.

In the paragraph “An Praziosen”, is the following entry: 1 silberne Minutenuhr 8 f. This statement shows that Beethoven had at least one silver (pocket) watch but following long and extensive research on the subject, interesting results have emerged regarding other watches and clocks that Beethoven owned during his lifetime.(2)

The first instance in which a pocket watch owned by Beethoven is mentioned and described in any publication, appears in the issue of The Musical Times dated 15 December 1892 (p. 17), in an article devoted to Beethoven memorabilia: BEETHOVEN’S WATCH. This watch, now in the possession of G. W. Davy, Esq., is supposed to be the one which is known to have been sent by Moscheles from London. The case is of silver and of foreign manufacture, while the works are of English make. The maker, George Prior, was also a well-known violoncellist, and it is not too much to suppose that he was known to Moscheles. Another reason for favouring this supposition is that in the filigree covering of the interior works is the figure of a lyre.

The maker, George Prior, was working in Prescot Street, London between 1765 andl810. There is also a picture of the watch (plate 1). Recent research has discovered that this watch is now part of the Applied Arts Collection in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (U.K.) (3) It was donated to the Museum by Ralph Griffin, MA on 14 December 1929.(4) The case is of Continental design, and was made especially for this movement. The movement is small for the case. There is a plain silver disc to close the case opening and support the movement, and a decorated band of silver fitted under the dial. These details suggest that the case was made to fit an existing movement.

These stones, placed on the movement for ornamental purposes only, are only two in the Sofia example. The stones seem entirely natural: the first experiments with synthetic stones were only in 1837, ten years after the death of Beethoven, and the commercialization of the first synthetic rubies did not occur until the early 20th century. In the Potsdam watch the deletion of the cocks has to led the elimination of the regulating unit of the spiral made in an alloy that looks like aluminum, mounted in all of the watches of that time.

This missing component may also be attributed to a clumsy attempt to repair the watch, which occurred a long time ago; the photographs of the 1920s already show the loss of this part of the mechanism. As a consequence it is not possible to adjust the time accurately. The watch maker should have adjusted the motion by shortening or lengthening the coil directly on the regulation split pin and changing, of course, the isochronisms of the movement. This practice is rather unconventional, but acceptable as a “ultima ratio” in the horology.

The sequence of the double horns in the Empire style, finely engraved with a burin, is identical in the two watches. Another interesting point in the Potsdam watch is the dial. In the position of the mounting feet it is possible to see the typical failure due to fall or manipulation; in fact, the breaking of a hand could argue for this hypothesis (and of course the replacement of the glass).

However, after a deep review and check of the Sofia watch, it is possible to make an interesting deduction: the dial of clock in Sofia is of original finish, with three feet welded originally at the right point. It is magnificent silvered piece, with two mercury-gilded hands(7) that could easily be confused with the background, especially if its owner were afflicted with myopia. By the way, it is known that Beethoven was short-sighted, as confirmed by many biographers and by the glasses owned by Beet-hoven-Haus (R 6a and R 7b). Then it was a common practice to replace the original dial with another more visible one as in the Sofia; this could be happened in the Sofia watch as the enamel of the dial is slightly damaged.

The same maker manufactured the two external cases, a red one in the Potsdam, and a green one in the Sofia. Both have a long line of decorative silver tacks, a simple lock, and an internal velvet, where the color has disappeared after more than 215 years. It is worthy to note that the Potsdam watch appears much more intact and in better condition in the photographs from the 1920s than in the contemporary images of the auction. In particular, apart from the breaking of the hand, the bottom glass appears very damaged near the lock; this usually happens after several years of use.

This watch, which is believed to have been owned by Beethoven, was acquired by Gutsche in 1916 who did not know the identities of any of its owners since Beethoven. If it were indeed the watch owned by Beethoven, it may also be supposed, also due to the Hungarian emblem, that it is the one that Nicolaus Zmeskall (8) gave to Beethoven as gift. However, although it has not been possible to confirm the authenticity of the Potsdam watch as belonging to Beethoven, the authors can reliably authenticate the date 1797 for it.

B. Pocket watch Prior

A few words should be added regarding the other silver pocket watch supposed to have been owned by Beethoven (a present from Moscheles) and now at the Fitzwil-liam Museum in Cambridge (UK).(9) Two modern photos are available on the website of the Museum,(10) in addition to the one published in the previous article (plate 1) that was dated 1892. Although it was not possible to check the proper functionality,(11) the watch is in the same very good condition as shown in the old photo.

Here below some detailed dimensions:

height: (case): 72.75 mm; diameter: (case): 59.75 mm depth: (case): 21 mm diameter: (top plate): 38.75 mm diameter: (pillar plate): 41 mm diameter: (dial): 42.5 mm height: (pillar): 4.5 mm height: (key): 35 mm width: (key): 15 mm length: (case): 108 mm width: (case): 90 mm depth: (case): 28 mm

Among watch makers there are a few persons named George Prior:

George Prior, London, 1765-1810 George Prior, Leeds, worked 1817-1826

George Prior (the most famous and probably the maker of this pocket watch), Ness-field, son of John,12 born in 1782, was active in London at 31 Prescot Street, Goodman’s Fields, London after 1822 and worked between 1793 and 1830. He was a maker of repute, especially in watches for Turkey. He received two awards from the Society of Arts. Succeeded by his son Edward (1812-1868).

For the Fitzwilliam watch the only proof of Beethoven’s ownership is the name “L. van Beethoven’s/Taschenuhr” in gilt lettering on the white silk interior of the lid. This watch was in the possession of George Baynton Davy,(13) as reported in an article devoted to Beethoven memorabilia in The Musical Times dated 15 December 1892 (p. 17 and 24).

George Baynton Davy(14) (1838-1907) was from Nottinghamshire, England and moved to Kingussie (Scotland) after his marriage to Martha MacKay, the daughter of a lawyer from Fort William. Davy had inherited money from his father George Thomas Davy, who had worked in South America organising the extraction of guano (bird droppings). Part of the Davy’s musical collection included “Relics, Manuscripts and letters of Handel, Beethoven, Wagner, and other foreign Composers” which was sold at auction on 24 July 1916 by Sotheby, Wilkinson and Hodge.(15) The “Relics of Beethoven – The property of the late G.B. Davy, Esq.” sold at this auction include the Beethoven watch, the memorandum book (later described), a lock of Beethoven’s hair with inscription of the composer’s friend Dolezalek(16) and a letter to his brother Johann dated 13 July 1825.(17)

Among Davy’s musical collection it is worthy to mention three notable Beethoven manuscripts; the first piece is the last part (8 pages) of the Sonata for Piano (A flat major) op. 110,(18) later in Louis Koch’s(19) collection(20) and now at the Beethoven-Haus as part of the Bodmer collection.(21) The second Beethoven manuscript owned by Davy is the Scheide sketchbook(22) that was purchased at the 1827 auction of Beethoven’s estate by the music publisher and dealer Domenico Artaria,(23) whose son, August Artaria,(24) sold it to the collector Eugen von Miller(25) in 1871.

From von Miller, it passed on to Davy; Louis Koch of Frankfurt-am-Main then acquired it for his collections;26 his heirs incorporated it into the Floersheim collection,(27) from which William Scheide(28) procured it in 1965. It is now at Princeton University Library (USA). The third notable manuscript is the Memorandum book, also known as the “Jugendtagebuch”(29) that Beethoven wrote in the year 1792-1794 after that he had just arrived in Vienna. A facsimile of three pages(30 is reproduced in The Musical Times dated 15 December 1892 (p. 33); this is now at the British Library(31) as part of the Stefan Zweig(32) collection. Zweig purchased it at the auction of Sotheby & Co. on 4th of June 1929,(33) whose lot no. 400 reports: “Beethoven (Ludwig van) Manuscript Note-Book, 25 11.19 of which have rough notes in pen or pencil in Beethoven’s handwriting, about journeys, sums spent and other memoranda, original blue paper boards, front cover broken (155mm by 92 mm).

On folio 12 initials L.v.B. appear […] Facsimiles of 3 leaves of this book were given in the Special Beethoven Number of the Musical Times (15 Dec. 1892), a copy of which is included in the lot. Also included are letters from Eugen Miller(34) of Vienna and Mrs. Mackintosh(35), former owners of the note-book(36); and a photograph of Beethoven’s watch”.After Davy the Beethoven’s watch was owned by Ralph Griffin,(37) who, on 14 December 1929, donated it to the Fitzwilliam Museum. He owned autographs of the two great piano duet-sonatas by Mozart, and compositions in autograph by Bach, Schubert, Beethoven and Debussy. Griffin also presented music to the Bodleian Library and the British Museum and was a notable collector whose generosity enriched the Fitzwilliam Museum.

In 1922 Griffin gave to the Fitzwilliam Museum a leaf from the Hammerklavier sonata Op.106(38) in which “the main content is an ink draft of an abandoned keyboard movement in Bb minor; this begins on staves 4/5 of the recto and continues on the verso. Apart from some pen trials on staves 1 and 2 and in the margins of the recto, and a sketch on stave 12 of the recto which is related to the main draft, all the other sketches – written in pencil rather than in ink – are for the slow movement of this sonata”.(39)

Griffin owned another important Beethoven autograph which contained the first two bars of the third movement of Piano Sonata op. 106,(40) the same two measures which he sent to Ries(41) to correct the English edition of the sonata. Beethoven must have given this autograph to the Viennese publishers of the sonata, Artaria, in December 1818 to amend the opening of the third movement (Adagio sostenuto). They were written in lead pencil on a small sheet of music paper, and since they were unaccompanied by a written explanation they were probably delivered in person. The sheet was formerly in the collection of the Beethoven biographer Alexander Wheelock Thayer (1817-1897)(42) and bears the endorsement “Given by Artaria to A.W.T. March 24, 1850” written in pencil on the bottom right on the page. Then, it was sold at a Sotheby’s auction on 18 February 1899(43) and so purchased by Griffin who presented this manuscript to Fitzwilliam Museum on 1915. It is remarkable to add that Griffin at the above-mentioned auction also purchased three Schubert manuscripts(44) and two letters by Beethoven(45) to Nikolaus Zmeskall that were given to the Fitzwilliam Museum in 1917.

C. Schwarzwalder Clock

Because of a comment in footnote 21 of the previous article46 the authors were contacted by Dr. Dagmar von Busch-Weise, formerly a longstanding researcher at the Beethoven Archives. She identified Plate 8 on page 18 as a photograph of the “Bonner Zimmer” at the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn, i.e. the room of the museum in which manuscripts, pictures, and personal items of Beethoven relating to his years spent in Bonn as well as pieces of furniture owned by his family were shown. The pendulum clock given by the composer to Stephan von Breuning(47) is displayed there. Gerhard von Breuning himself comments on this clock in his book where he reports:
“Aus jener Zeit stammt eine noch in meinem Besitze befindliche Schwarzwalder-Uhr, welche Beethoven damals meinem Vater schenkte”.(48) The clock is mentioned later in the catalogue(49) of the exhibition held in the Vienna Stadt-Museum in 1920 and again in the catalogue of the Centennial Exhibition in Vienna in 1927, under the chapter “Koje Hausrat Beethovens” as belonging to the grandson of Beethoven’s close friend, Stephan von Breuning:

H. Dr. Stefan Breuning, Wien.

Geschenk B.s an St. v. Breuning(50)

This clock is also listed in the book “Ein Wiener Beethoven-Buch: Studien und Skizzen,” edited in 1921 by Alfred Orel, in the chapter written by Wilhelm Englmann “Beethoven-Reliquien in Wien.” He describes it on p. 233 as “Eine einfache Schwarz-walderuhr, die Beethoven in einer fruheren Wohnung benutzt und dem Freunde Stephan geschenkt hatte”; on page 235 the same photo as plate 951 in the first part of this article is reproduced but described as: “Hausrat Beethovens in der Wiener Gedachtnisausstellung 1920” and “Hausrat Beethovens in der Beethoven-Ausstellung der Stadt Wien 1920-1921”.(52)

Beethoven gave this clock as a present to Stephan von Breuning. It was then acquired by the Haydn and Beethoven collector Antony van Hoboken.(53) His son, Ing. Anthony van Hoboken, confirmed that his father was in Vienna from 1925 to 1938-1939 so very probably he acquired it from Breuning just before July 1929 when the Breuning collection was dissolved. E.R. Fuchs wrote an article in 1929 on Breuning’s Beethoven memorabilia describing the treasures and saying that the collection “up to a few weeks before” had been in the possession of the family. He also advised that the clock was not seen by him because it had already been sold: Die ubrigen Gegenstande der aufgelosten Breuningschen Sammlung sind anders-wohin gewandert, und ich konnte sie nicht sehen. Es waren nur noch sehr wenige Stucke: einige Miniaturen, eine Uhr und mehrere Kleinigkeiten waren noch zu erwerben, dagegen waren ein paar sehr wertvolle Bilder und Portrate leider schon fruher verkauft worden.(54)

The clock has been in Hoboken’s house for long time, as his son remembers in a note to the authors: “a simple clock without the wooden case”. At that time during the Carnival Fest at the College Papio di Ascona, the priest Hugo Sander was searching for a grandfather clock to be fixed on the wall and he asked the most prominent Ascona people, including Mr. van Hoboken to supply one. Hoboken replied that he would have loaned a clock, but that it was necessary to have it repaired as it is not working properly. This clock is indeed the one in the Beethoven-Haus that Hoboken had purchased from Breuning some years before.

It was that after this event (around mid 1953) that this clock was given to the Beethoven Haus. An article of that time entitled “Da Ascona a Bonn – l’orologio di Beethoven”(55) reports this donation: Dopo che un bravo orologiaio ebbe eseguito con perizia le necessarie riparazioni l’orologio mostro’ d’essere tornato ‘regolarissimo’ sul palco del teatro Papio -il Sig. van Hoboken stimo’, nella sua generosita’, cosa opportuna di regalare il prezioso oggetto all’archivio Beethoveniano che si trova a Bonn, citta nata del piu grande compositore di tutti i tempi. Il prof. Schmidt-Gorg, direttore dell’archivio in parola, ha esternato a nome della citta’ di Bonn la sua commossa riconoscenza al signor van Hoboken. L’orologio si trova gia da qualche mese in una delle stanze della Beethoven-Haus.

Dr. von Busch-Weise said that the clock was kept running, and she recalls the sound of its stroke. This clock perished on 9 May 1960, when a visitor to the museum spilled a flammable liquid onto the wooden floor of the Bonner Zimmer and ignited it. Dr. von Busch-Weise was an eyewitness to the ensuing fire which destroyed the entire room with all its inventory. Fortunately the other rooms and treasures of the museum by and large could be saved by the fire brigade. This is largely due to the circumstance that one of the museum guides, out of experience gained in the bombing raids of World War II, quickly closed all doors to prevent the flames from spreading. Of the wooden clock’s case only charred relics remained, while a few metal parts of the clockwork were found by Dr. von Busch-Weise when she carefully sifted through the ashes and rubble that had been shoveled by the firemen out of the windows into the court.

An article from a local journal(56) reports a detailed description of the clock and the donation to the Beethoven Haus:

Das Beethovenhaus ist um einen kleinen kostbaren Schatz reicher geworden: Der Musikfreund und Haydn-Forscher Anthony van Hoboken aus Ascona in der Schweiz hat dem Beethovenhaus vor wenigen Tagen eine Wanduhr ubergeben, die Beethoven im Jahre 1811 seinem alten Freund Stephan von Breuning ge-schenkt hatte. Die Uhr ist eine Schwarzwalder Uhr der damaligen Zeit, die au-fier einem Glockenschlag auch noch einen Wecker hat. Ihr Werk, das Schlagwerk und der Wecker werden durch drei 2,40 Meter lange Kordeln in Gang gehalten, an deren Enden je ein schweres Gewicht und ein Gegengewicht hangen.

Kastellan Hasselbach hat des seltene Stuck inzwischen wieder in Gang ge-bracht. Sie zeigt nun wieder durch ihren Schlag, der durch das ganze Beethoven-haus tont, jede Stunde an und geht auf die Minute genau. Sie soll demnachst im Bonner Zimmer des Hauses der Offentlichkeit zuganglich gemacht werden. Ferner ist beabsichtigt in Zukunft durch Ihren Schlag den Beginn der interner mu-sikalischen Veranstaltungen im Beethovenhaus anzuzeigen.

Wie Professor Dr. J. Schmidt-Gorg, der Leiter des Beethovenarchivs und Direktor des Musikwissenschaftlichen Seminars der Universitat, in einem Gesprach mit der “Bonner Rundschau” versicherte, kann an der Echtheit der Uhr kein Zweifel bestehen, da ihr eine Echtheitsbescheinigung der Familie von Breuning beigegeben ist. Die Uhr war seit Ihrer Schenkung im Jahre 1811 im Besitz der Familie von Breuning, Dr. Gerhard von Breuning, ein Sohn Stephans von Breuning, dem Beethoven die Uhr geschenkt hatte, bezeugte die Schenkung Beethovens auch in der zweiten Auflage seines Buches “Aus dem Schwarzspanierhause”. In ihm bemerkt er zum Jahre 1811: “Aus jener Zeit stammt eine noch in meinem Besitz befindliche Schwarzwalder Uhr, welche Beethoven damals meinem Vater schenkte”.

Der Schweizer Musikfreund van Hoboken erwarb das Stuck vor einigen Jahren, als die Nachkommen der Familie von Breuning Erinnerungsstucke an Beethoven verkauften. Dafi diese Uhr nun nach Bonn komme, sei besonders erfreulich, weil Beethoven als junger Mensch vor allem nach dem Tode seiner Mutter im Hause von Breuning, das damals in Bonn am Munsterplatz stand, sehr viel verkehrte und dort eine zweite Heimat gefunden habe, sagte Professor Schmidt-Gorg. Spater seien einige Mitglieder der Familie von Breuning mit ihm nach Wien ubergesiedelt. Das alte von Breunische Haus hat bis etwa um die Jahrhun-dertwende dort gestanden, wo heute der Kaufhof ist. This article confirms again that the clock was given to Breuning by Beethoven in 1811 and that the ropes carrying the weights were 2,40 m. long.

Another article published at the end of the year 1955 discussed this clock recently acquired by the Beethoven Haus with the other “Standuhr”(57) already owned by the Beethoven Haus:

Uber die kleine Schreibtischuhr – eine Standuhr in Form einer umgekehrten Pyramide mit einem Frauenkopf aus Alabaster als Bekronung – ist nichts mehr bekannt, als dafi sie auf dem Schreibtisch des Genius gestanden hat. Von ihrer Herkunft weifi man so gut wie gar nichts. Die Wanduhr – zur Vorsicht hat man inzwischen einem Glaskasten nach Art einer modernen Standuhr um sie herum-gebaut – hat aber schon eine recht ansehnliche und durch Urkunden bezeugte Geschichte.(58)

Every morning Castellan Hasselbach would wind all the clocks present in the museum and as confirmed by an article of that time: “Die beiden Uhren stellen gleich-zeitig dem alten deutschen Uhrmacherhandwerk das schonste Zeugnis aus: Obwohl sie schon schatzungsweise an die 150 Jahre alt sind, gehen sie heute noch auf die Minute genau. Es gehort zu den taglichen Pflichten van Kastellan Hasselbach, beide Chronometer allmorgendlich aufzuziehen – die Schreibtischuhr mit einem kleinen Schlussel und die Wanduhr an ihren Seilzugen”.(59)

This clock is also mentioned in some brochures on the Beethoven-Haus that were published in the 1950s (and also later than 1960, after the fire) as part of the collection of the memorabilia in the Bonn-Room “The clock was a present of Beethoven to his friend Stephan von Breuning in 1811”.(60)

It is historically and technically necessary to give some more information about this type of clock, which bore the name of the mountainous and wooded region of the Black Forest (Schwarzwald).

One of the remarkable things in the history of the Black Forest clock(61) is that a group of farmers should have possessed the necessary ability for such work. The inhabitants were frugal and industrious but had no spirit of trade or industry until the wars of the seventeenth century brought them into closer contact with the outside world. The climatic conditions provided only a very short summer, and during the long winter the inhabitants had to stay indoors and carry on some activity other than farming. As timber was plentiful, most of them chose woodcarving, but the timber was mostly of the coniferous type and therefore soft, and the harder woods such as beech were less easy to come by. Another factor in the shaping of the economic life was the system of inheritance. A family farm was always inherited by the youngest son, and the older brothers and sisters had either to be dependent on their youngest brother or take up other work. Many of them chose woodcarving and eventually there were a large number of woodcarvers in the area who formed a pool of workers with manual dexterity. Production went on increasing throughout the eighteenth century and up to the end of the first half of the nineteenth. The accelerating tempo of the industrial revolution made it necessary for more workers to possess a clock so that they could arrive at their factory on time, and the cheap Black Forest product filled this need admirably. The capacity of an ordinary shop would be four clocks per week. The end of the eighteenth century was a prosperous time for the Black Forest clockmakers. Since the 1770’s, designs had not changed much and sales were increasing.

D. The Pendulum clock present at the Beethoven-Haus at the Entrance Hall

This clock is of course not related to Beethoven as a man but to his birthplace and it has been present at the Beethoven-Haus for many years.

This clock was located inside the hall of the museum against the wall near the stairs that were used for access directly to the first floor, without having to go out into the small courtyard garden. It has been photographed and shown in many guide of the Museum published since 1911.(62)

The English guide of the Museum from 1965 describing the Entrance Hall of the Beethoven-Haus writes: “On entering the large hall with its old-fashioned timbered ceiling and picturesque staircase one obtains the impression of a typical well-kept middle-class house of those days and hardly of an aristocratic one, like Goethe’s house-of-birth, for instance. One the right one’s glance falls upon an old clock and above the staircase on a picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary.”.(63)

Unfortunately this clock is not working anymore and has been completely disassembled. Only its wonderful wooden case survives at the third floor of the Museum, with other collection items.

A clock of this type is called a floor clock or a long case clock. Its history goes back to the year 1656 when a Dutchman named Christian Huygens (1629-1695) was the first person to use a pendulum, as a driving device, in clocks. This was the birth of the Grandfather clock, or to use the correct terminology, long case clock. The first long case clocks were produced in Britain, after the London clock maker Ahasuerus Fromenteel sent his son to Holland to learn about the use of a pendulum

For the first 15 years long case clock makers struggled to develop a pendulum device capable of keep accurate time. By 1670 an anchor escapement had been developed that, when used in conjunction with a pendulum, allowed great accuracy to be achieved. This development ensured that history would remember Britain as the dominant producer in the world of clock making. Names such as Joseph Knibb, Thomas Tompian, George Graham, and Daniel Quare all come to mind when discussing the history of long case clocks. The earliest cases were made from oak and were architectural in appearance. Higher quality clocks would be finished with ebony or pear wood. Later cases were made from high quality African mahogany. Today, beautiful examples of what is called “flame mahogany” can also be seen. Early dials were square and made of brass.

E. The repair by Armando Orlandi of the Beethoven’s Tischstanduhr64 preserved at the Beethoven-Haus

The repair of the Beethoven clock was long desired by Armando Orlandi and realized thanks to the collaboration and acceptance of Dr. Michael Ladenburger,(65) curator of the collections of the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn, whose special interest and kind willingness has made it possible.

This treasure is preserved in room 9 of the museum, called the Bodmer room. In fact inside this room, there are shown most of the objects that belonged by Beethoven which were part of the collection of the Swiss doctor Hans Conrad Bodmer that was bequeathed to the Beethoven-Haus by him in 1956. This is the only clock surely owned by Beethoven. It was given to him as a gift (66) from the Princess Christine Lichnowsky. (67) After the death of Beethoven it came into Anton Schindler’s possession, then it was owned Schindler’s sister Marie Egloff (68) and after that August Nowotny(69 in Altrohlau and Carl Meinert(70) in Dessau. Meinert sold the Beethoven items to the Beethoven-Haus in 1898.

The repair of this clock started at 9 a.m. on the 29 September 2011 in the reading room of the Library of the Beethoven-Haus. The clock was carefully taken by Dr. Ladenburger from the display cabinet in the museum and then placed on the table of the library. The rear pyramid shaped door is fixed by a small hook and a small nail with an L shape, very old, but not as old as the period of the clock (1810). On the interior part of this door it is possible to observe some tags written with old ink

(Unreadable- 18/01/66 Unreadable 9185-2-70 19-63K and 1019111), evidence of previous repairs. These tags were used by watchmakers as a record of when the watch or clock was repaired and as a warranty, and are not used today.

The movement is fixed to a bronze lunette by three clamping screws (not coeval), and probably replaced in the nineteenth century, as the thread is machine-made with a technique dating from after 1850. This movement is of rectangular shape, to be wound from the front.

After removing the bezel that holds the glass and the two hands of gilt bronze mercury held by a split pin, the movement was removed from the foul line, held by just four brass split pins probably from the same era. It was also possible to look at the internal grain, due to the processing of the enamel, with a beautiful inscription “III 3 / Z,” probably from the atelier of the enameller. An inscription “1810.” is written with Indian ink under the bronze bezel.

The internal side of the wooden case has been irregularly cut with a sort of gouge; the movement is held by two screws the last action was the removal of the spring from its housing. This spring looked very old, perhaps coeval, with traces of a very old repair with a lot of sludge from the natural lubricant oil, which over time became glue-like. The mechanical parts of this small clock were completely disassembled. Each of the brass gears, which were partially oxidized and covered with sludge, was cleaned with two special liquids. Finally, the old suspension wire (not contemporary) that was completely damaged and no longer useable, was replaced.

Then the two insertion holes (of oval shape due to the use) and plate, were tightened; this operation is absolutely necessary for the perfect alignment of the gears. In all, the repair took about three hours. Then the repaired mechanism was tested before being inserted into its case.

The style of this clock is late Empire, when neoclassicism became influenced by more freedom in the details. At that time, as it was common in Austria, many objects were re-interpreted by adapting the general taste in favor of a local one, making the style more eclectic. As last note, it is difficult to imagine the construction of the clock in a unique style. The small bust has been examined by a magnifying glass and could represent a Minerva, but, especially as it is believed to have been added in a later period, as a Cornelia or Santa Cecilia, or as an example of Roman “tout court virtus”.

In the afternoon the clock was returned by Dr. Ladenburger and Mr. Orlandi to its previous place, in the tall case with other smaller items from Beethoven’s everyday life.(71)


This refers to the previous article published by the authors; see L. Bellofatto / A. Orlandi, Beethoven and the Art of Horology, in: BBS 9 (2011), pp. 7-34. After this article, new discoveries and new information were found and some corrections were needed, so an addendum of the article was absolutely necessary. The authors are grateful to Laura McCann and James Green for reading the draft of this article, editing it and making many useful suggestions.
The Auction was held by Auktionshaus Eichelkraut Inh. Tobias Kuhrober E.K, Potsdam (Germany). The catalogue lists the watch as the lot no. 259: “Kulturgeschichtliches Objekt – Alpenlandische Spindel-taschenuhr mit Schutzgehause aus dem Besitz Ludwig van Beethovens, 1770 Bonn – 1827 Wien; Gehause signiert: (Heinrich) Rost, (Hofuhrmacher) Salzburg; schlichtes, versilbertes Messinggehause mit einfa-cher Rand-Lunettenverzierung; der Ruckendeckel mit zeitgenossischer Gravur ,Ludwig van Beethoven‘; glattes, rot gelacktes / emailliertes Ubergehause mit graviertem Glasring und umlaufenden Zierstiften; bei der 12 gravierte Jahreszahl ‘1797’; uber die 12 hinausklappbares Uhrwerk; ovales, weifies Emaille-zifferblatt mit schwarzem, romischem Zahlenindex; Messing-Vollplatinenwerk, fein graviert mit reichem Volutendekor und Randverzierung sowie mit roten Schmucksteinen; runde, gegliederte und verzierte Stege / Pfeiler; fein ausgesagte, silberne Spindelbrucke in Form des Kossuth-Wappens; Messingunruh, Antrieb uber Feder, Kette und Schnecke, Spindelhemmung, Zeigerstellung und Schlusselaufzug von hinten; Werkdurchmesser 19 lh ” (ca. 42 mm); D (Uhr) = 60 mm; D (Ubergehause) = 70 mm; Prov.: Frau Conzertmeister Gutsche / Doberan / Mecklenburg; Referenz: Beethoven-Archiv Bonn”.
The video can be watched at the following link:
For easier reference the watch purchased by Mr. Orlandi is named Sofia and the one sold at the auction is Potsdam.
Bellofatto L. / Orlandi A. (see n. 1), pp. 9-12.
Handwritten notes on the verso of the photo ref. B 738/a, Beethoven-Haus Bonn.
This type of work, recognized as very healthy today (and today totally prohibited given the toxicity of mercury vapors) could give the bronze a gold layer, which could then be wrought. Mercury-gilded/ silvered objects must be fired in order to evaporate the mercury, which boils at 357 degrees Celsius. Only metals that are able to withstand this high temperature can survive the process. Another requirement is that the mercury amalgam must be able to sufficiently wet the entire surface of the material; otherwise the gold or silver will not adhere. For metals, the ability of the amalgam to stick is related to solubility. It may sound strange to talk about two metals being soluble in relationship to each other, but like other chemicals, mercury will only solubilize (dissolve) some metals, such as gold, silver, and copper. Therefore, for this type of gilding to work, the substrate must be composed primarily of metals that can be dissolved by mercury. Before electroplating was invented, mercury amalgams were the best choice for producing a smooth, thick coating of gold or silver on a three-dimensional object. The process also had the advantage of being able to be repeated until a coating of the desirable thickness was achieved. Mercury gilding/silvering is rarely performed today due to its toxicity.
Nicolaus Zmeskall von Domanovetz (1759-1833) was an excellent cellist, official in the Hungarian Chancellery, a prominent figure in the Viennese musical circles and a close friend of Beethoven; Beethoven dedicated the string quartet (f-minor) op. 95 to him.
Accession Number: M/P.1 & A & B-1929 (Applied Arts Department); Reference Number: 77467.
At the following links:, and
During a visit to the Fitzwilliam Museum, Luigi Bellofatto could only verify that the mechanism is working.
John Prior, son of William, Nessfield 1747-1820, received six awards from Society Arts for an escapement, alarum and striking work.
The Musical Times named Davy as G. W. Davy, but it is surely a mistake.
The National Archives, Catalogue reference C 16/929/D167, reports: “George Baynton Davy, son of George Thomas Davy Esq of Colston Bassett, Owthorpe Notts and 18 Sussex Square, Hyde Park, who among other appointments was Honorary Secretary of the Notts County Cricket Club from 1868-1874, sold estate of Colston Bassett in 1875; he was born on 23rd September in Valparaiso (Chile), he married Martha Jane MacKay at Cheltenham in 1871 and for the 1901 census he, with Martha Jane and five children, was living at Spean Lodge, in the district of Lochaber, Scotland, and he died at Spean Lodge, Kingussie, on 22nd December 1907. He had one brother Charles Leigh and one sister Charlotte.” Davy’s house is now a very nice hotel owned by Suzanne and Glen Wilson. The authors thank them for the information and photo provided.
“Catalogue of valuable autograph letters & historical documents: including the property of the late G. B. Davy, Esq. the property of Mme. Blanche Marchesi the property of J. L. Roeckel, Esq. the property of a Gentleman the property of the late Henry Richardson, Esq., Mayor of Greenwich, 1909-10 (sold by order of the Executrix) the property of Mrs. Laura E. Brooke and other properties: which will be sold by auction on Friday, July 21, and Monday, July 24, 1916”. Davy’s items are listed at lots no. 313 to 316.
Johann Nepomuk Emanuel Dolezalek (1780-1858), Bohemian composer and cellist who met Beethoven in 1800 . He was among composer’s visitors during his final illness.
BGA 2005. This letter (sign. Ms. 4243) was presented to the Royal College of Music in London by a Dr F.B. Pidduck in October 1
This is another version of the last movement of this sonata. The complete manuscript is in the Staats-bibliothek zu Berlin Preufiischer Kulturbesitz (shelf mark Mus. ms. autogr. Beethoven, L. v., Artaria 196).
Louis Koch (1862-1932), jeweler and antiquarian music collector.
Georg Kinsky, Die Beethoven-Handschriften der Sammlung Louis Koch, in: Neues Beethoven-Jahrbuch 5.1933 (1934), p. 54.
Sammlung H. C. Bodmer, shelf mark HCB BMh 2/42. For more information about Hans Conrad Bodmer (1891-1956) and his collection see: M. Ladenburger / N. Kampken, Auf den Spuren Beethovens: Hans Conrad Bodmer und seine Sammlung, Bonn 2006.
For more information see: Douglas Johnson, Alan Tyson, Robert Winter, The Beethoven sketchbooks: history, reconstruction, inventory, Oxford 1985, p. 241-246.
Domenico Artaria (1775-1842), music dealer and publisher, played a central role in the auction of Beethoven’s estate.
August Artaria (1807-1893) continued the activity of his father Domenico. Regarding his private collection see: Katalog der Privat-Sammlung August Artaria. Versteigerung in Wien am 6. Mai 1896 und fol-gende Tage by Artaria & Co.
Baron Eugen von Miller von Aichholz (1835-1919) was an Austrian Industrialist and collector.
Georg Kinsky (see n. 21), p. 53.
After Koch’s death, it, along with much of his collection, was bequeathed by Koch’s daughter, Maria Florsheim-Koch, then to her son, Georg Florsheim, himself a legendary collector; this collection is still extant and family-owned today in Basel, although diminished by sell-offs.
William H. Scheide (*1914) is an American musicologist, businessman, and collector. He has expanded greatly the extraordinary rare book and manuscript collection begun by his grandfather and enlarged by his father.
For more information about this manuscript and for its transcription, see Dagmar von Busch-Weise, Beethovens Jugendtagebuch, in: Studien zur Musikwissenschaft 25 (1962) (Festschrift fur Erich Schenk), S. 68-88. See also Stefan Zweig, Meine Autographen-Sammlung, in: Philobiblon 3 (1930), p. 290.
Bl. 9 v , 11 r and 12 v .
Shelf mark: Zweig MS 14.
Stefan Zweig (1881-1942) began collecting literary, historical and musical autograph manuscripts while still at school in Vienna. In the 1930s, he immigrated to Britain, and eventually became a British subject, living in London, and then in Bath. A year before his death, he left war-torn Britain for Brazil. Zweig’s heirs continued to add to the collection after his death, and, with great generosity, presented the entire collection of literature and music to the British Library in 1986.
Auction catalogue “Letters and manuscripts selected from the Lewes House Library formed by the late E. P. Warren, Esq., M. A. and now the Property of a Gentleman”, 3-9 June 1929, Second Day, p. 62.
See note 26.
Mrs. Mackintosh was indeed Mary Davy, the daughter of the collector G.B. Davy who married George Mackintosh.
he first owner after Beethoven’s death seems to have been Artaria, Vienna, as per note written by Zweig (to record card, sign. Add. MS 73167, f. 7) “Das sogenannte ‘Artaria’ Tagebuch”.
Ralph Hare Griffin (1854-1941) was a notable collector, Fellow of St John’s, jurist and judge.
This leaf 23 x 30 cm (SV 316, signature Mu. MS 289) has an accompanying note that reads “sheet of music in Beethoven’s Autograph, probably from a notebook. Movement in Db (Des). Given by Ralph Griffin, 1922, to the Fitzwilliam Museum”. “The incorrect identification of the key as Db was carried over into the listing of the leaf in H. Schmidt ‘Verzeichnis der Skizzen Beethovens, Beethoven-Jahrbuch 6, 1969, 7-128, no. 316, although Schmidt questioned its accuracy there” according to N. Marston, see note 33.
Nicholas Marston, Approaching the sketches for Beethoven’s “Hammerklavier” Sonata, in: Journal of the American Musicological Society 44 (1991), p. 407. The leaf is also reproduced in Figure 1 and 2.
This manuscript (SV 313, signature Mu. MS 288) consists of 1 leave, 24 cm, 12 staves (187mm high); the width has been cut down to 16cm from an original ca. 30cm. These are the sheets 3-6 of the complete manuscript.
BGA 1295, sheets 3 to 6 are at the Fitzwilliam Museum (sign. Mus Ms 1014), sheet 2 is at the Beethoven-Haus, part of the Bodmer collection (sign. HCB Br 198) and a fragment of the first sheet is at the Stadt-archiv of Trier (sign. Stadtbibliothek/Stadtarchiv Trier Autographensammlung). A sheet included in the Fitzwilliam Beethoven letter reports that it has “bequeathed by Joseph Ries to A.J. Hipkins, who owned in 1896. Given to Fitzwilliam Museum by Sir. Herbert Thompson, 1920”. Pieter Joseph Ries (1791-1882), brother of Ferdinand Ries was a musician and music teacher; he bequeathed the complete Ferdinand Ries collection and compositions to the musicologist Alfred James Hipkins (1826-1903). The Fitzwilliam museum owns another letter by Beethoven to Ries dated 6 July 1822 (BGA1479).
For more information on A.W. Thayer’s life, see L. Bellofatto, Alexander Wheelock Thayer. Neue Quel-len zu Person und Werk, in: BBS 5, p. 7-69. Bellofatto is working on a revised and enlarged edition of his Alexander Wheelock Thayer, the greatest biographer of Ludwig van Beethoven: a study in nineteenth-century American music, Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 2011.

Catalogue of Important and Valuable Autograph Letters and Historical Documents […] formed by the late Alexander Wheelock Thayer”, Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, London, 1899. The manuscript is item 5 of the auction catalogue.

The three Schubert manuscripts are: Die Mondnacht (1815 – D. 238); Geistes-Gruss / An Mignon (1815 – D. 161 version b and D. 142 version d); Der Alpenja’ger (1817 – D. 588, version a). All three are at Fitzwilliam Museum under the sign. Mus Ms 616, 615 and 617.
BGA 52 (1800-1801) and BGA 35 (1798).
“The authors would be interested to receive any further information about this clock, which would be of much value towards the continuing research on Beethoven’s clocks.” L. Bellofatto / A. Orlandi (see n. 1), p. 19.
Stephan von Breuning (1774-1827) was a friend of Beethoven from the days of his youth in Bonn.
Alfr. Chr. Kalischer, Aus dem Schwarzspanierhause: Erinnerungen an L. van Beethoven aus seiner Jugend-zeit von Gerhard von Breuning, Berlin-Leipzig 1907, p. 45. See note 51 for more details about the Breunings.
Fuhrer durch die Beethoven-Zentenarausstellung der Stadt Wien: Beethoven und die Wiener Kultur seiner Zeit, Wien 1927, p. 89-90.
Stefan Jr. von Breuning (1894-1983) was an Austrian entomologist; he was the son of Maria Cornides von Krempach (1859-1939) and Gerhard Jr. (1848-1920), son of doctor Gerhard (1813-1892) and Pepina Gossleth (1826-1905). Gerhard von Breuning first met Beethoven as a child with his father. He was Stephan’s son by his father’s (second) marriage with Constanze Ruschowitz (1784-1856). During Beethoven’s final illness, young Gerhard, just entering his teenage years, was a frequent visitor to the Schwarz-spanierhaus. Beethoven enjoyed his company and in 1874 Gerhard published his personal recollections of Beethoven in Aus dem Schwarzspanierhaus, a readable and trustworthy account of Beethoven’s last years.
Plate 9 is from Ley Iconography (Beethoven-Haus Bonn, Ley, Band VI, Nr. 1144).
Alfred Orel, Ein Wiener Beethoven-Buch: Studien und Skizzen, Vienna 1921, “Verzeichnis der Bilder – 17.”
Anthony van Hoboken (1887-1993) was a collector and musicologist; he produced a definitive catalogue of Haydn’s works (J. Haydn, Thematisch-bibliographisches Werkverzeichnis, Mainz 1957, 1971, 1978). Hoboken’s private collection, amassed from 1919 onward, includes first and early editions of music from the Baroque to the late Romantic and early theory and literature. This collection was transferred to the Austrian National Library in 1974. See: Katalog der Sammlung Anthony van Hoboken in der Musiksamm-lungder Osterreichischen Nationalbibliothek: musikalische Erst- und Fruhdrucke, herausgegeben vom In-stitut fur Osterreichische Musikdokumentation, unter der Leitung von Gunter Brosche, 17 vols., Tutzing 1982-2000.
Beethoven-Reliquien: Auflosung der Sammlung Breuning, in: Kolnische Zeitung 22.07.1929. Most of the Beethoven relics belonged to Breuning were acquired by the collector Stefan Zweig.
The name of the Swiss Journal is unknown; the article (Beethoven-Haus, Bonn, Z 11023) reports a handwritten date “Juli 1953”.
Eine Uhr Beethovens kam wieder nach Bonn, in: Bonner Rundschau 15.07.1953, Nr. 162. The authors thank Friederike Grigat who provided copies of the articles.
For more information on this clock see: Bellofatto / Orlandi (see n. 1), pag 14-16.
Zwei Uhren Beethovens, in: Bonner Rundschau, 31.12.1955, Nr. 303.
The Beethoven-House at Bonn and its collection, Bonn 1965, p. 19.
For the early history of Black Forest clock-making, see Gerd Bender, Die Uhrenmacher des hohen Schwarz-waldes und ihre Werke, vol. 1, Villingen, 1975.
F. A. Schmidt / F. Knickenberg, Das Beethoven-Haus in Bonn und seine Sammlungen, Bonn 1911, p. 24.
The Beethoven-House at Bonn (see n. 61), p. 16.
See: Bellofatto / Orlandi (see n. 1), p. 14-16.
Armando Orlandi heartily thanks Dr. Ladenburger for having had the privilege and opportunity to repair this clock.
Schindler/Beethoven III 2, p. 372.
Maria Christine (or Christiane) Thun-Hohenstein (1765-1841) was the wife of Prince Karl Lichnowsky (1756-1814), Beethoven’s patron and friend. Beethoven lived in the Lichnowsky household for several years after he came to Vienna. Beethoven dedicated to Maria Christine Lichnowsky in 1797 the 12 variations for piano and cello on a theme from the oratorio “Judas Makkabaus” by Handel in G major (WoO 45) and in 1801 the piano arrangement of “Die Geschopfe des Prometheus” (Op. 43). She was a fine pianist and well disposed towards Beethoven.
Marie Schindler Egloff (ca. 1807-1882), daughter of violinist and musicologist Joseph Schindler (17581835), was a singer, active in Vienna, Pest, Berlin, Aachen and Mannheim. She spent several years with her brother Anton.
August Nowotny was the owner of a porcelain factory in Altrohlau, near Karlsbad in Bohemia. He acquired the Beethoven-Schindler material after Schindler’s death on 16 January 1864. The material itself comprises autographs of Beethoven; some Beethoven letters (mostly to Schindler); letters from and to other people; some other miscellaneous documentary material, not only concerning Beethoven but also Schindler; several volumes of printed music and a couple of books from Beethoven’s library. The Beethoven biographer Ludwig Nohl (1831-1885) visited Nowotny and listed the complete collection in his book: Inventarium des Beethoven schen Nachlasses, soweit sich derselbe in dem Nachlasse… Anton Schindler vorgefunden hat und zur Zeit in den Handen der Frau Marie Egloff… befindet: (jetziger Besitzer dieser Sammlung Herr Nowotny…), Karlsbad 1864; the clock is listed at p. 15 under the section “Vorhandene Reliquien von Beethoven”. Most of the books and autographs are now housed at the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin. The pieces are listed in the catalogues of the Beethoven collections of the two former Berlin State Libraries: one half in Eveline Bartlitz, Die Beethoven-Sammlung in der Musikabteilung der Deutschen Staatsbibliothek: Verzeichnis; Autographe, Abschriften, Dokumente, Briefe, Berlin 1970 of the Beethoven holdings of the former Deutsche Staatsbibliothek in East Berlin, and the rest in Hans Gunter Klein, Ludwig van Beethoven, Autographe und Abschriften: Katalog, Berlin 1975 of the West Berlin holdings. The Nachlass is recorded in the music department’s accession book under the number 18948 (1880, September 20), with the annotation “Fur 6300 MK von A. Nowotny in Altrohlau bei Carlsbad angekauft”. The author would like to thank Clemens Brenneis, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Preufiischer Kulturbesitz, Mu-sikabteilung mit Mendelssohn-Archiv, for the information provided.
Carl Meinert (1844-1913) was a cloth manufacturer in Dessau and moved to Frankfurt am Main in 1904 after he retired.
More photos are available at the following webpage:
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