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Great House Antiques
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Experience:  30+ years in all aspects of the Antiques and Decorative Arts Industry
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Glass hourglass orange mercury filled? Origin France Castle

Customer Question

Glass hourglass orange mercury filled? Origin France Castle 1800?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Antiques
Expert:  LadyTanya65 replied 1 year ago.

Hello, my name is***** am one of the expert appraisers here at justanswer. I would be happy to help you. Please allow me to research this and promptly post back thank you

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok Thank you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I was told it was used for fortune telling the orange fluid travels thru glass tube inside the chambers I was told it came from a castle in France
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Approximately how long do you need to research this? Do you just email me?***@******.***
Expert:  LadyTanya65 replied 1 year ago.

Hi I am researching this now and will post as soon as I ma done. I will post back here so this evening I should have it completed for you. Thank you for the information I am finding the history to the piece now and looking at actual values.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
any information on who made it where it came from age of it and value would be great
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I think it is a custom piece one of a kind I tried to research it but was unable to find anything like it
Expert:  LadyTanya65 replied 1 year ago.

I will do my best yes this is a unique piece and am having some trouble but will find what I can for you. Thank you

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Very unique
I was told it is approximately 200 years old came from a castle in France not sure if this is correct though
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Any luck?
Expert:  LadyTanya65 replied 1 year ago.

Hello, I have been reading everything I can find.

the age is correct, as style of hourglass you have is consistent to early 19th century (1800's)

I am having trouble with finding when orange colored mercury came into being and how they did that. I have no way of knowing who made the piece without any marks; However, I am looking at the orange mercury now and trying to find out where that came to be. From a castle in France I have no way to prove if there was no written providence given to you stating that. I am still working on this and will post as find things through the evening.

I found the following history of the hourglass:

It has long been thought that hourglasses were certainly an ancient device, thanks especially to an ancient Roman bas-relief that seemed to include one. Recently, however, it was determined that the part of the bas-relief with the hourglass on it was only added in the 16th century.

In fact, the first authentic evidence of hourglasses did not appear until 1338 AD, when Ambrosio Lorenzetti painted a fresco with the personification of Temperance holding an hourglass (image 4). Later that century, hourglasses were mentioned in written documents, including a 1345 sales receipt for items bought by the clerk of an English ship, and the inventory taken at the 1380 death of King Charles V of France. So from these three examples, it is clear that by the early 14th century, hourglasses were in common usage by everyone from sailors to kings, and had already taken on symbolic values as a device of measurement.

It makes sense that a ship clerk would have purchased an hourglass, since it is a strong possibility that hourglasses were first developed for maritime use (image 5). Before the 14th century, time was measured in unequal hours, based on the durations of day and night on each date. On a ship, however, the measurement of equal hours would have been necessary for calculating the distance traveled (since distance = rate x time). Sand-filled hourglasses would have been preferable to water clocks (the most ancient form of clock, which functions similarly to the hourglass) because, if suspended, they would be relatively unaffected by the motion of the ocean.

So basically all the evidence points to the hourglass being invented around 1000-1100 AD, during that era's great advances in maritime navigation. This dating gives the hourglass roughly enough time to become widely used and to enter the material record around 1300.

The part of history on hour glassses came from this link below.

Expert:  LadyTanya65 replied 1 year ago.

I am still looking this up also I am sorry it is taking me time however this is an interesting piece. I will post back what I continue to find on the piece.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I know it looks kinda like an hour glass but it isn't an hourglass it is used for fortune telling you ask it questions and the orange "mercury " fluid moves into the next chamber being if it did come from a castle in France it should be in an "inventory " as all items in castles are documented I know it is a very unique piece that myself consider priceless as I do not think another piece even exists as I'm sure it was a custom made piece I know a fellow that was a goldsmith to the Queens jewels prior this belonged to his aunt and when she passed he gave it to me and he told me he studied this piece and said he has no idea on how it was even made as a craftsman that studied the piece
Expert:  LadyTanya65 replied 1 year ago.

Hello, yes I have contacted France to find the lists of inventory and see I may pinpoint the castle it came from. Also, I realized this was a fortune telling instrument after exhausting the hour glass and running across a douser article that went into the instruments of asking questions and getting answers from an assortment of curios. I am still working on this and thank you for this reply. I am still working on how the mercury and orange combined. Very fascinating item you have. Thank you for your patience. As soon as I hear back I will be posting more information.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
it's very unique
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
How you making out?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
This is 3 chambers the small one on top once I seen the fluid go up into there
Expert:  LadyTanya65 replied 1 year ago.

thank you I am still researching everything I have and know of. i have not received any emails as of yet and am hoping to by tomorrow. I know it is just now Monday morning in France.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you I hope you are able to find out more about this for me
Expert:  LadyTanya65 replied 1 year ago.

Hello, I have exhausted everything I have. My colleagues in France have looked into the inventory of castles and this is not listed on anything. They went back to 1680 and before that the records are sketchy and they could not go back further. I have tried everything I can and have come up with nothing. I will opt out of the question at this time and open it to let other appraisers try with this question. If they know anything on this item they will post here. It doesnt cost you any more and you will not need to do anything. I have tried my best and have come up with no concrete information on this other then it dates back before 1680 if going by castle inventory logs. Thank you

Expert:  LadyTanya65 replied 1 year ago.

If I run across anything I will post back here in the future.