Unlike many craftsman, Nicolas-Alexandre Folin was the rare individual who managed to prosper during the turbulent French Revolution. Although only accepted into the guild as a master in 1789, the year the revolution began, Folin had been active as a clockmaker for many years before. Guild records label him as a Trinitaire, a term applied to students working on the grounds of the Hôpital de la Trinité in Paris. Free of charge, the hospital taught children a craft for eight years, the same length as a normal guild apprenticeship. At the end of this period, young craftsmen had the right to be received into the guild as a master with no other formalities such as creating a masterpiece.
Folin's business prospered during and after the Revolution, when Napoleon I ruled France. He was even able to buy two properties for over 22,000 livres during the worst days of the Terror.