clock, mantel
clock, mantel

clock, mantel


Accession Number
This late 19th century Black Forest mantel clock consists of a three dimensional realistic wildlife scene carved in linden wood (aka lime wood). Dominating the scene is the carving of a Red Deer stag, his mate and fawn. The stag stands majestically behind the doe with the fawn in the foreground laying in foliage below the two adult deer. The stag and doe have brown glass eyes. Behind them is a gnarled oak tree with sparse foliage. The base depicts a pile of jagged rocks with sparse foliage. The object is carved from one piece of wood except for the stag’s antlers, which are removable.

The clock's mechanical works are comparatively small and stamped with the maker's mark, “Japy Frères & Co.” in a circle, and in French, “Grand Medal of Honour at the Great Paris Exhibition of 1855” stamped around a crown and star. The clockwork is designed to be inserted via the front into a carved-out compartment with a hinged door on the back of the carving, thus allowing access to the mechanism, including the bell and pendulum. The face of the clock is located on the end of what appears to be a cut-off tree limb near the bottom of the carving. The clock face has individual enamelled navy-blue and white Roman numerals on brass plates that are attached to the face. The numerals might be later replacements.
This Black Forest mantel clock may have been purchased by Mrs. Robert Dunsmuir in Switzerland in 1890. It sold from the Castle at the 1909 Executor’s auction as lot #128. The carving is not signed. The clock movement is believed to be older than the carving. The movement was made by Japy Frères & Co. of France. That firm won the Grand Medal of Honour at the Great Paris Exhibition of 1855.  The clock has a 14-day brass movement of the classic French style with the 1/2 hour and hour striking via a counter wheel.  The numbers on the clock’s face are enamel on metal.

The featured Red Deer is common to Europe. Imagery of these creatures was used extensively for decorative purposes throughout the Victorian period.  Although the Black Forest is in southwestern Germany, carvings like this one were produced in Swiss carving shops and called Black Forest carvings. They were very popular with tourists on the Grand Tour. Black Forest pieces were usually carved from walnut, maple, pear, or linden wood. Craigdarroch’s mantle clock is believed to be carved linden wood. This example and the two carved wall panels in the dining room are of exceptional quality (see 2003.3.2 and 2003.4).

The donor of this clock was the late Dr. Ruth Brink (nee Fields). As a young woman, she was a student at Victoria College in Craigdarroch Castle. After obtaining a doctoral degree, she returned to Victoria College as a professor of biology. The Black Forest deer clock carving was a much-loved Fields household furnishing for many years. Dr. Brink’s fond memories of academic life at Craigdarroch Castle and her appreciation for the building inspired her to donate this important Dunsmuir-era object to The Castle Society.

Castle Society Acting Curator Bruce Davies accepted delivery of the carving at the Vancouver residence of Dr. Brink in December, 1983. She told him of its history of use and of the existence of other Dunsmuir Black Forest carvings from Craigdarroch that were in the possession of her brother James Fields of Lantzeville, BC. These other carvings are now in The Castle Society’s Primary Collection.
History of Use
This clock was used at Craigdarroch during Joan Dunsmuir’s lifetime and was sold at the public auction organized by her Executors in June, 1909. Attending the auction were brothers Charles Arthur Fields and John Cass Fields. One or both of these men purchased the clock. The Castle Society acquired the clock from Dr. Ruth Brink (nee Fields), the granddaughter of Charles Arthur Fields.

Castle Society President Dorothy Laundy advised Society members of this gift in her March 4, 1985 written Report.
circa 1880 – 1890
99 x 28 x 75 cm
Wood, linden
Japy Freres & Co.
Serial Number
none observed
on movement: Grand Medal of Honour at the Great Paris Exhibition of 1855
Country of Origin

Related people/businesses/organizations
Japy Freres & Co. (manufacturer)
Joan Olive Dunsmuir (owner)
Related Association
Craigdarroch (was used in)
Related Objects

carving, 2003.003.002 (is related to)

carving, 2003.004 (is related to)

hallstand, 2003.003.001 (is related to)