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Maker, Hubert Sarton, Liege, Belgium, c. 1800.

Two train, hour strike and half hour strike on count wheel. Weight-driven. Gilt movement with inverted pinwheel escapement, one-half second, nine rod gridiron compensated pendulum above beat plate, crutch with micrometer beat adjustment. Movement with pinwheel escapement planted on rear plate having 60 pins allowing the second hand to have 1/2 second intervals and rotate one revolution per minute. Gilt dial bezel with enamel dial, blued steel hands. 10.5"w x 21"h x 5.5"d.

Hubert Sarton was a man with an extremely inventive turn of mind and whereas his main occupation was horology his interests extended considerably beyond this field. He concentrated his efforts on the manufacture of skeleton clocks and was probably the first to do this, producing more than any other maker at this period and evoking a style which was very characteristically his own. His choice of the skeleton clock was almost certainly due to his wish to show off his ingenuity and skill as completely as possible an even more important consideration was the desire of his wealthy patrons to impress their friends with their horological marvels and to gain pleasure from them by being able to look in and wonder at their innermost complexities.

To put this in context it must be realized that at the time the leading clockmakers were considered to be extremely important men and very much part of the scientific community as evinced, for instance, by the fact that Sarton was asked by the "prince Eveque" tp start a Science Society, which rapidly acquired a prestigious reputation and became known as the "Societe d'Emulation"

Hubert Sarton was born in Liege in 1748 and from an early age showed a great aptitude to the mechanical sciences. He was apprenticed to his uncle Dieudonne Sarton also of Liege, in 1762 and in 1762 and in 1768 went to Paris to work with Pirre Leroy where he undoubtedly obtained much valuable knowledge and experience which was to stand him in good stead and influence him for the rest of his life.

In 1772 at the age of 24, Sarton returned to Liege which at that time was under the rule of Austria. The representative of the House of Hapsburg from 1744-1780 was the Duke Charles Alexander, Prince of Lorraine, who was the brother of the Emperor, and and it was he who appointed Sarton "Court Mechasnic".

During the period 1771-84 Liege flourished under the guidance of the Austrian Prince Archbishop Francois-Charles de Velbruck known as the "Prince Eveque". Like Sarton he had spent some time in Paris where he was Minister to the Count of Outremont at the Court of Versalles and this had stimulated in him a strong interest in the arts and sciences. It was this which undoubtedly lead to his patronage of Sarton and it would seem that their relationship was a relatively close one as he asked Sarton, as mentioned earlier, to start a "Science Society", a task which he accepted with pleasure.

Over the years Sarton made some fine clocks and watches for the Prince Eveque and undoubtedly gained important customers through him. He also made several clocks fir the Prince of Lorraine who had an extensive collection. When the Prince died in 1781 a large part of his collection, 118 clocks and also 52 watches, were sold (including some pieces by Sarton) and a catalog of these was published.

In 1783, the year before Prince Eveque died Sarton was appointed City Counselor and Treasurer. In 1794 the French Revolutionary Armies swept through Belgium and occupied Brussels and this undoubtedly had an adverse effect on Sarton's business. Indeed it was probably only the small sum of money which he received from the city after his official posts were abolished at the time which enabled him to keep his business alive and feed his wife and family of eight. However it would seem likey that business improved for him in the early 1800's as a considerable number of his clocks which are still in existence, are believed to come from that time.

Following the takeover from the French by the Dutch in 1815 Sarton's fortunes seem to have declined and although in 1822 he recived a medal from the Dutch for his water pump hje was given no money. He died on October 28, 1828 just short of his 80th birthday. (1) To quote Edward Aghib, "Penniless, heartbroken and misunderstood". (2)

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(1) Continental and American Skeleton Clocks, Derek Roberts, pp. 171-172.

(2) "Hubert Sarton of Liege",  Edward G. Aghib , Antiquarian Horology, December 1972.