Thwaites (later Thwaites & Reed) supplied movements to many English clockmakers and probably exported them also. The Thwaites number on the movement suggests a possible date of circa 1771.
The four sets of automaton characters read:
Ruyue zhi heng
Ruri zhi sheng
These phrases can be translated as:
Having the constancy of the moon,
Like the rising sun,
May (your) fortune be as vast as the Eastern Sea,
The longevity of the Southern Mountain.
The first two lines are from the Shijing, 'Book of Odes', the earliest collection of Chinese poetry dating from the Western Zhou dynasty (1050-771 BC), referring to the 'three abundances and nine similitudes'. These are translated as 'May you be as the mountains and the hills, as the directions, having the constancy of the moon, like the rising sun, with the longevity of the Southern Mountain and the green luxuriance of the pine and bai (cypress)', cf. T. Tse Bartholomew, Hidden Meanings in Chinese Art, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 2006, p. 32. The last two lines are later deviations from the Book of Odes, and were popular auspcious phrases during the Qing dynasty.
A CHINESE ORMOLU, ENAMEL AND PASTE-SET STRIKING, MUSICAL AND AUTOMATON 'TROPICAL LANDSCAPE' CLOCK
The base section of rectangular outline with canted angles, raised on an acanthus cast plinth moulding above elaborately cast foliate feet, the front and angles with panels of blue baisse-taille enamels, embellished with gilt, green and red enamels forming a floral-diaper ground, the front also with a glazed automaton scene within a paste-set border, the glass panel reverse-painted at the edges and also framed below by a cut out painted metal scene, depicting foliage and animals, with central mirror-backed automaton waterfall feature, the sides with florally-decorated blue enamel panels, the rear applied with stylised acorn and flowerhead mounts beside a painted metal panel depicting European figures in a landscape beside the sea, with paper inventory label above 12;
19th Century, automaton, musical, striking, dial, Clocks, time-telling instruments, enamel, gold ground / ormolu, China, Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
Clocks, Marine Chronometers & Barometers
35½ in. (90 cm.) high x 16¼ in. (41 cm.) wide x 12¼ in. (31 cm.) deep