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Antique Clocks - Restoration Projects

18thc Longcase Clock         painted dial with guilded flowers

LATE 18thC MAHOGANY LONGCASE CLOCK

A Fine Mahogany Longcase Clock Circa 1780-90

This late 18thC Longcase clock has a fine flame Mahogany case with a domed and carved hood, flanked by fluted columns with brass base terminals and an eight day striking movement on a bell, with cream enamelled dial with decorative gilt heightened floral detail, and separate seconds and date dials along with Roman numerals. The clock was restored by having the movement cleaned and serviced along with any worn bushes replaced and a new spindle. The case was cleaned and wax polished enriching the warm red patina of the Mahogany. Measures 85 inches by 19 inches

INTERESTING FACT

This clock would have been working in Horatio Nelsons time during the Battle of Trafalgar (21 October 1805) in which a sea battle was fought between the British Royal Navy and the combined fleets of the French and Spanish Navy, ...This British victory is commemerated by Nelsons column in Trafalgar Square, London. Also the Battle of Waterloo (18th June 1815) during the Napoleonic Wars, fought in an area South of Brussels in Belgium, during the Duke of Wellingtons time.Two famous major battles in British history.

Every year after 1815 the Duke of Wellington held a "Waterloo" banquet for his officers. The banquet is still held.

Mercer ships clock before         Mercer ships clock after
MERCER SHIPS CLOCK
Thomas Mercer Established 1854

The company Thomas Mercer Ltd made chronometers, clocks, instruments and measuring equipment in London and St. Albans, from 1858 until 1984, when dial gauges were being replaced by electronic measuring devices and chronometers by GPS. For 126 years, Thomas Mercer and his successors had, between them, made over 30,000 chronometers of all types.

This MERCER ships clock dates from around 1930-40 and most likely used during WW11 judging by the electrical contact that is still on the large hand of the clock. This would have been used to signal pre-determined times for a manoeuvre called ZIG ZAG to confuse the enemy.

(Zig-Zag. Zig-Zagging amounts to the main body of the shipping convoy simultaneously steering predetermined courses for various lengths of time, which would prevent a submarine captain from easily determining the true course of the convoy. Changes in course were made at specific intervals on the clock thus eliminating any visual or electronic signal, which might alert the submarine captain to an impending change)

VICTORIAN VIENNA REGULATOR CLOCK

This good example of a Vienna regulator clock with German movement has nice fine lines on a Walnut and ebonised case. The twin weighted movement strikes on the hour and half, on a gong.
Dating from around 1880 it has a carving of an Oak leaf with acorns on the pediment. The case was restored where needed and the movement cleaned and serviced.

Vienna regulator before         Vienna regulator after


1920s French sunburst clock with hand carved pinewood rays. Barrel movement made by Japy Freres
French Starburst Clock



The first clock restoration project detailed is this late 19th Century, German bracket clock has an 8-day movement and strikes on the hour and half. I think it may have spent some of its life in a barn, before I bought it a local auction, judging by the amount of straw inside it. The "Junghans "movement was intact along with the pendulum and just needed a clean before replacing.

The case had all the brass ornaments removed before cleaning and the case was then hand stripped, missing mouldings replaced and finally re-polished.

Antique Clock Restoration Photo Project 1 - Before        Antique Clock Restoration Photo Project 1 - After



SETTING A CLOCK IN BEAT OR RYTHYM


If the "tick"of a pendulum clock is uneven, the clock is described as being out of beat. This indicates that the two pallets are not engaging the escape wheel at the same extent. Apart from giving an annoying sound, it may interfere with the clocks accuracy. It is usually caused by standing the clock on a sloping surface. It can be rectified by using wedges firmly placed under the base allowing the clock to tick evenly. Alternatively, the crutch, through which the pendulum passes, can be bent towards the louder tick until the beat is even. Only a small amount of bending is normally necessary.

The upper end of the crutch must be held very firmly so that no pressure is exerted on the pallets or escape wheel.





This rather nice American Drop Dial Wall Clock needed a good clean and polish. The movement when removed was cleaned in clock cleaner and oiled.

The case which is Rosewood veneered has brass stringing with Mother of Pearl inlay. It was cleaned to remove the dirt and given a finish using antique oil which brings out the rich colours. The 12 inch painted dial had the Roman numerals hand painted over the missing and scratched original ones along with retouching the hands.

It has an 8 day movement striking the hours on a bell.


Antique Clock Restoration Photo Before        Antique clock Restoration Photo - After



This German oak cased clock dates from around 1900. Standing 14" high with an 8 day striking and chiming movement. Chiming on the quarters and chiming and striking on the hour.
It had lost most of it's original finish along with two of the hands on the advance and retard dial, also the chime and silent dial.

The cased was re-polished, the movement cleaned and serviced. The dial was re-silvered to bring it back to it's original state.



The following French ormolu clock, circa 1870-80 was again bought at auction, complete with glass dome and base. Quite often these components are missing, generally just the clock on it's own, is offered for sale.

The clock casing needed to be very carefully cleaned, as no abrasives can be used on ormolu. A weak solution of ammonia in water can be applied in small sections, with an artist's paintbrush. This will clean the surface without damaging it. Cleaning off finally with distilled water. In this particular clock, I was able to take all the pieces apart and then clean them separately. The movement was striped down and cleaned by a professional clock repairer.

Once restored, the clock finally looked much as it did when first made, with all of the Sevres type panels placed back into position. The scene depicts a young Baccus holding a bunch of grapes in one hand and an ancient roman style goblet in the other. A grapevine climbs over the barrel of the clock.

CLEANING ORMOLU CLOCKS

Antique Clock Restoration Photo Project 2 - Before        Antique Clock Restoration Photo Project 2 - After


French Mantel Clocks
In the 19th Century, every one wanted to emulate the opulence that that these earlier clocks gave. Consequently manufacturers started producing clocks in great numbers and in rather flashy designs, that we quite often see being sold at antique fairs and the like.

The word that matters in description is 'ormolu' which means a hard base metal like brass which is rough cast before being chiselled and engraved by hand and finally coated with a thin amalgam of gold and mercury. (Which was a very poisonous process).

Cheaper 19th Century mass produced clocks have a similar appearance- at first sight- but they are made of spelter. This is a soft metal that is simply cast and gilded. Clocks with decoration of this kind usually sell for a quarter of the price of a quality ormolu piece. The real test is to scratch the underside of the clock; if the gold colour comes away to reveal grey metal then it is spelter, if brass is shown then it is ormolu. Another test is to tap the case with coin. If that sounds sharp and pings, you have hard metal, i.e.brass etc; if it is a dull thud then it is soft, i.e. spelter.


Early French makers to look for, are names like Lepine, Janvier, Armand, Lepaute and Thuret. They made very elaborate clocks at the end of the 17th Century. Own a clock with one of these makers' names on and you have a clock of considerable value. Points to look for are a verge escapement, which looks rather like a revolving horizontal crown with sharp teeth just above the pendulum. Pendulums should be pear shaped bobs on brass rods. Also painted face or porcelain numerals and a winding hole in position you would least expect it.

An example of an early Verge Escapement.


Skeleton Clocks.

It has generally been thought that apprentices made skeleton clocks so examiners were able to see the workings and quality of workmanship. This may well have been the case in how they first came about but in the 19th century when most of these clocks were made, the Victorians liked them and they became very popular. English ones are of fret cut brass, with silvered brass chapter rings, usually housed under a glass dome on a wooden base.

French skeleton clocks were usually much smaller with solid front and back plates, which were often engraved. Later examples were made with enamelled chapter rings.

Wall Clocks

Although wall clocks had been in existence for some time, in one form or another, it was not until William Pitt imposed a tax on clocks, in 1797 that the incentive to manufacture large wall clocks that could be hung in public places for all to see, came into being. This is why many large wall clocks today are refereed to as Act of Parliament Clocks.

By the time of the Regency period (c1812-1830) wall clocks had reduced in size to about 18 inches in diameter, many were veneered in rosewood and inlaid with brass scroll inlay. The longer Victorian wall clocks are referred to as Vienna regulators and the case is usually mahogany with an elaborate pendulum. Most of which, you will see are spring driven. The more expensive and better quality ones are driven by weights.




I am always looking to buy Antique Clocks for restoration. If you have any to sell, please contact me with the details by filling in the form below.
The London Antique Clock Centre buys, sells, repairs.

Restoration materials for clocks etc.

THE BRITISH HOROLOGICAL INSTITUTE"

CARE OF A LONGCASE CLOCK

CLOCKSPARES

How To Repair Clocks





If you would like advice or a quote on restoring an Antique Clock, please get in touch by completing this short form. I am located in Maidenhead, Berkshire, UK.