Antique Clocks & Vintage Clock History

 

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Not Old or antique yet, but reported to be the largest grandfather clock in the world

Not Antique, but reported to be the largest Grandfather Clock in the World

 

Historical Reference on Vintage & Antique Clocks
08/31/14

A Bit of History...
The attraction to antique clocks is a fascinating one. Our research indicates that these grand old timepieces represent a time period in human history when craftsmanship was a quality much more revered than it is today.

Historical Summary
A concise summary on the history of the clock is difficult. The ultimate in antique clocks today is certainly not a sundial, but indeed this is likely where the history begins. More practically, for purposes of this discussion, the history began with old antique timepieces such as the "pocket watch"

So beginning there lets look at a bit on the origin of the word "clock":
Clokke = Middle English
Clocca = Medieval Latin
Cloc = Celtic and Old Irish
Clugge = Old English
Glocka = Old High German

If you want to see some really standout antique clocks, take a look at  Delaney Antique Clocks. And, if you do find a clock you love that needs restoration you seriously need to contact The Clock Smith in California.

The English Influence on Clocks...
In the same decade the United States was celebrating their initial fourth-of-July, painted dials for clocks were first introduced in Britain. These painted dials were replacing a centuries old tradition of using brass dials. Clock dial painting began making statements -- they were designed to celebrate events from religion to the Industrial Revolution, to sports and famous war victories. 

Replica Clocks Flourish...
The English also began making customized antique replicas of tall case clocks. This created antique like high quality affordable product for the masses. What's interesting is that these antique clocks replicas are now themselves antiques! Had it not been for this English movement to create these replicas, it is likely vintage and antique clocks would enjoy the interest they do today.

History of Clocks in America...
Who the first person was in the NEW World that became fed up with the inaccuracy of sand timers and started to make clocks is entirely unknown. Cocks were imported from both England and Holland. These were operational spring mechanisms. These were so expensive that only major settlements could afford  them. Few people had a clock in their own house. The first clock-makers were through and through craftsmen. They had to make every part themselves to the precise size. The tools available were often extremely rudimentary. The same person often had to make the clock case too. 

Generally they sold too few clocks to make a living so that clock-makers were also locksmiths or gunsmiths. This combination was particularly popular during the American War of Independence. After this war there were still far too few people who could afford a grandfather clock and so the makers experimented with smaller clocks. Because a large number of original American clocks were introduced many homes soon had their own clock.

Clockmakers...
The names are known of around 7,OOO American clock-makers. Most of these made the usual types of clock but there in the introduction of major innovations In the introduction of major innovations that they have to be mentioned. 

Abel Cottey arrived in America in 1682 on board the Welcome with William Penn (the Quaker leader whose name is given to the state of Pennsylvania. He may well be the first clock-maker to establish a business in the colonies. In his workshop in Philadelphia he mainly made longcase clocks that became known as grandfather clocks. 

These grandfather clocks later became very popular and can now be found through America. In common with other clock-makers, Cottey made the mechanism, the dial, the pendulum, and the weights himself but left the case to be 1t made by a joiner. These joiners allowed their creativity to run free and many cases are superbly carved in minute detail. Philadelphia proved to be a good place for clock-makers to set themselves up. 

Great names such as Christopher Sower, four generations of the Gogas family, the Chandlee family, and Edward Duffiels ring out from Philadelphia. The last of these was a good friend of Benjamin Fran] Duffiels was interrupted so frequently by people asking the time that he made a clock with a face on both sides that he hung outside his workshop. The most convivial clock-makers was David Rittenhouse. 

Longcase Clocks...
The grandfather clock was the first clock for the home to be made in America These stately clocks originally known a either tall case or long case clocks can thank their name to the children's song My Grandfather's Clock. The first long case clocks were made in England around 1600 and the earliest known America known American example originated in 1680. The long case was necessary to house the long pendulum. This case was often designed and made by a cabinet maker. The mechanism of the longcase clock was made of bronze and wood. The clocks were mainly driven by weights but wind-up clocks came onto the market later. The dial was often made of bronze with engraved or etched Roman numerals and decoration. The hands themselves often had fine tracery in order to catch the light. Grandmother clocks are a smaller version of the longcase clock and they were extremely popular in the early nineteenth century. They were mainly made by a group of Boston clock-makers including the Willards, Samuel Mulliken, and Levi Hutchins. The grandmother clock was no taller than 1,200mm (48in). 

Shelf Clocks... 
Shelf clocks came into fashion in the New World following the America War of Independence (1775-1783). This was because their mechanism was driven by a spring. Such mechanism~: were more complex and hence less accurate and these clocks were often more expensive. Because metal was in short supply during the war mechanism were generally made of wood. The first American shelf clocks are so similar to comparable English clocks of the time that many collector has been confused. 

The Massachusetts shelf clock (also known as box on box or half clocks) is no taller than 600mm (24in). The clock is set on a shelf instead of on the ground as is the case with longcase clocks. 

The lighthouse clock (originally known 1 as the 'Eddystone' clock) is one of the many innovations of Simon Willard who lodged a patent application for the design in 1822. The glass dome known throughout the British Empire was mounted on a rounded or octagonal base to give the overall appearance of a lighthouse. Because they were intended to be portable, lighthouse clocks had handles attached. 

Wall Clocks...
The 'wag-on-the-wall' clock is also derived from the longcase clock. This ( type of clock was mainly based on the ideas of Isaac Blaisdell for a clock for people for whom the longcase clock was too big. The pendulum is allowed to swing freely outside the case rather like a dog's tail wagging to and fro. The banjo clock was originally named by its designer Simon Willard as an 'Improved Patent Timepiece'. 

Despite the patent he was granted on this type of clock it was widely copied. There are some 4,000 genuine Willard banjo clocks. Willard introduced a number of improvements that enable his clock to run for eight days in spite of their weights. The banjo clock was also more accurate than other clocks because the pendulum was suspended in front of the weights. The case was largely made of glass which was decorated with paintings of landscapes, flowers, and noteworthy buildings. This typical American clock is still very popular with the general public The 'girandole' was designed in 1816 by Lemuel Curtis of Concord, Massachusetts. 

 

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