Longcase clock hands dating

Eventually most clocks went back to a plain or matted centre again. Yes, it can all get a bit confusing at times - - -. Early 8 day dials had decorative rings round the winding holes, these were left off from C. The lunette date aperture appeared C. This feature started to appear C, and continued afterwards on good quality work. Early clocks to had a small dial, eight or nine inches square. There are exceptions to these sizes of course, but they are a good general guide when taken with other features. Another date clue I have noticed during clock repairs is that any screws in an early movement to have square heads.

After the screw heads are round, and the thread profile is better cut. From longcase clocks ceased being made in London, the clockmakers followed the demands of fashion, and made bracket, or shelf clocks. Provincial clockmakers, many trained in London, made large numbers of longcase clocks from right through to , when imports of cheap German and American wall and mantle clocks put an end to the making of longcase clocks altogether.

A "bird-cage" movement it has vertical pillars and the plates are horizontal top and bottom is often taken to be a sign of an early clock. This is not guaranteed however, in Southern England the clockmakers continued to make this type of movement from the start right through to The bird-cage movement is a guide to location, not date. Very few Northern makers used this movement, it was essentially the same as the even earlier Lantern Clock movement.

Northern makers had no tradition of making these clocks, so used the normal plated movement vertical plates, horizontal pillars from the start of their clockmaking. Some case features - - - Early clock trunk doors fit flush inside the door opening, from onwards the door was given a larger edge and covered the hole sides by fitting against the case front. A convex moulding under the hood is another reliable sign of a pre clock, after this date again with a very few exceptions, usually in rural areas, the mouldings were always concave.

How to Determine the Age of a Grandfather Clock | Home Guides | SF Gate

Hood pillars were barley-sugar twist until , then either plain or fluted after this date. Some Southern clocks continued this to the end of the brass dial period, but by the vast majority were separate from the door, fitted to the hood frame. Cast brass capitals were fitted to the columns on the hood, and on the trunk if fitted, from onwards on the more expensive clocks. Country clocks often have a rather plain, but nicely proportioned Oak case, often with a flat top, but after the fashion came in to put horns on the top, often decorated with round wood or brass facings.

The "caddy" top was used from to , then the fashion changed to the "pagoda" top, often with three ball and spire decorations screwed on right, left and centre. This type of hood top carried on from right to the end of the brass dial period. Marquetry was used on top-end cases in London from to There are almost no provincial marquetry cases. Japanned, or Lacquered cases were fashionable from to , some Northern examples are around, but many were stripped back to the wood years ago, when our climate caused the finish to deteriorate badly.

Pendulums too have a time progression, to they had a thin wire rod with a small rounded bob, often plain lead. From to the wire rod stayed, but the bob became flattened into a saucer shape, around four inches in diameter, often with a brass case. The late ones to have a wide flat strip of iron instead of the wire rod, and the same four inch brass-faced bob. Sometimes the bob is cast iron with a decorative pattern, and painted gold or black.

Lead weights were always used until C. Quality clocks had brass-cased lead weights. Cast Iron weights were used on nearly all painted dial clocks - - - a cast iron weight on a brass dial clock is not original. A good reliable sign of an early clock is the half-hour marker between the big roman numerals being a cross with arrow heads. The base of the cross runs right down into the chapter ring edge.


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The same early clocks had the minutes numbered inside the minute band, and quite small C. From the minute ring is moved inwards on the chapter ring, and the numbers engraved outside the minute ring. Another clue - - - the minute number 5 had a short tail until , this tail grew longer over time, by the tail almost curled right round to form a circle. Easier to see than describe, but unmistakable once you have seen it.

A bit of detective work looking for all the clues, then taking them all together should enable you to have a very good idea of when your clock was made. South in these notes means all the South of England, as far up as the South Midlands. North means Birmingham to Scotland. If you are thinking of buying a clock, these notes should help you to avoid some of the "altered" clocks, of which there are many - - - unscrupulous antique dealers used to put a good brass dial eight day movement in a nice Mahogany case to increase it's value.

Unfortunately there are lots of these clocks around still, if you want a nice original clock you need to know what to look for. I hope some of the features I have given here will help you make an informed choice of clock.

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These hands were usual on London clocks from about to , then were re-used in the provinces later. The case is mahogany. Mahogany was used increasingly from about , and on the majority of clocks after about The dial is brass and arched. Brass dials pre-dated longcase clocks, being used for lantern and table clocks of much earlier times.

We do know that brass dials all but ceased in Victorian times, being replaced by painted dials in the late 18th century and beyond. Arch dials began about and continued as the preferred style through to current times. The hands are non-matching steel.

Dating a longcase clock

Matching hands started about the same time as the painted dial, in the early s. They were initially steel but migrated to brass, particularly for painted dials, by c Before , hands were non-matching and made of blued steel, figure 3. The weights are brass cased and lead filled. Early weights were lead, better quality clocks had brass-cased weights after about , but diminishing over the next years in favour of the cheaper cast-iron weights. Brass covered weights regained popularity in the late Victorian time to the present day.

The movement is a heavy, good quality brass plated musical movement. These movements were popular from about to about , then again in the late Victorian period. Prior is recorded as often buying his movements. This movement is unmarked but follows the lines of the last quarter of the 18th century. If we look at the wheels and arbors, we can see that the collets are extended and squared and the arbors have parallel sides, both consistent with a clock of the last quarter of the 18th century or later, figure 4.

The plate pillars are of fairly standard form, except that they are tapered, suggesting a late 18th century design, figure 5, pillar 3. The clock case has a carved swan-neck pediment. Swan necks increased in popularity from the mid 18th century to the present time. London swan-neck cases are known, but they are very rare. Most London clocks of the time have arched or pagoda tops, figure 6. Swan necks are predominantly a provincial feature, although it is possible, but unlikely, that London makers custom made features such as the swan-neck pediment for a provincial customer.

The case is highly decorative with blind frets to the hood, trunk and canted corners to the trunk and base. We have fluted columns and carved rosettes to the swan neck. This case is typical of the late 18th century.


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  • We know that London clocks tend to be plainer than provincial ones. This well-made case is of good quality and seems to be of the Lancashire style. So far so good. However, we do have a possible discrepancy. Prior was a London maker and the case suggests a Lancashire style. We need to look in more detail. The chapter ring is an applied, silvered brass ring, normal for this type of clock, but the features are of an earlier period.

    This chapter ring has half-hour markers; these had all but disappeared by , and usually before It also has an inner quarters circle, a style of the one-handed clock that was carried over to early two-handed clocks for the benefit of those who could not yet read minutes. This was phased out by about The chapter ring also has half-quarter markers, these were very unusual after first quarter 18th century, figure 8.

    Dating a Grandfather Clock

    The dial plate has wheatear engraving all around the outer edges, figure 9, a feature of the better clocks, but again phased out by first quarter of the 18th century. The dial plate is solid, so it is likely a London dial. Provincial dial plates often have cartwheel type cut-outs behind the chapter ring to save brass.

    The spandrels are of the female head type which were used between and , figure Perhaps there was a desire to be distinct as craftsman or the particular buyer had input in what he or she wanted to see.

    How to Determine the Age of a Grandfather Clock

    Perhaps in crafting the hands to suit the dial, or visa-versa, balance would have be given consideration. The elongated hands provided the balance needed. Perhaps if we could see another Leslie clock we would see a distinct style. Or it was simply someone was not following the rules and I dare say it might have been the dial painter because if the Arabic numerals were not there the minute ring would have been expanded, accommodating the hands. In my practical mind I have in view what Tom says because I would think that a struggling business in and around would be practical.

    Also what effect would the War of had on commerce and manufacturing in the UK at that time? Still scouring the internet and have found some more Scottish round dials with hands that protruded farther. Also one with brass hands. Still no Arabic minute numerals however. I don't want to post them fearing copyright rules and rules of the MB. One thing I learned in life, is never say never Here are some examples.. Jeremy Woodoff Registered User. Jun 30, 4, 38 48 Brooklyn Country Flag: A number of the late clocks with brass hands illustrated by Brian Loomes in British Clocks Illustrated show the minute hands extending beyond the edge of the chapter ring.

    He notes the hands as being original. I think by this time less care was taken to have the hands end at exactly the point that was considered correct historically. Jeremy, I suppose there is some truth in that! JB, the point about the "arabic" numerals, is one that I didn't think of. It could mean quite a bit in the scots dial story: I have been cleaning out my archives, and came across this scots round dial, which has a bit of both worlds!

    Nice handmade hands, in domestic style, but with austere seconds and calendar. I don't have a picture of the case Then there is Chris's clock, which is of the same type case as JB's I also came across a scots arched dial with a confusing set of hands! The thistle hour hand, I'd say is right, and so probably is the seconds hand. The minute hand is a replacement, and the serpentine calendar also. The rule about hands is set, and as Jeremy says, people were careless.

    The point I make, is that if possible, a collector should try and have the correct sized hands. I would suggest London and the main clock centers were more fastidious in sizing hands properly and to a standard. Harold, there is no proof that the hands are original, and yes, if Joe can find a period pair of good hands, it would be better for the clock. However, I did say before, that it would be a difficult project. In fact, there is no proof that the movement and case are original, but that's an entirely different story!

    As to previous owners, not being bothered, that is down to normal ignorance. However, we, that is, Joe, is in a different scenario: What I forgot to ask, Joe, was: There is also no proof the hands are NOT original. Since you are not a collector, changing things like this for cosmetic reasons may be appropriate to you.

    But I think most collectors would prefer the hands stay with this clock. Laprade, I'm curious about the Chris clock. Those hands look way to short. What about poor Ralph, how many hands does he need to buy? Laprade, I think you misinterpret Jeremy's point.

    And calling into question the case, dial, and movement is not helpful. Not to many clocks come with full documentation as to their past. A few serious collectors here on the MB and the other more notable collectors referenced, would say the rules that you say are set, were broken by the original makers. What do I make of the Arabic minute markers? Should i paint this over because i have found no other like it.

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    Maybe you could comment on the dial thread. Laprade, your insights are worth kleening from and I enjoy the interaction. But sometimes I have to question your stubbornness. Surely an Irishman living in France has learned to relax. I'm reasonably satisfied the hands could be original to the clock and my feeling is they are. I won't be changing them. Besides I like them. Here are a few more.. The center sweep second hand is a horrible replacement, so ignore it. Joe, I don't want to be accused of commandeering your thread, so this will be my last post here. I think I have contributed enough examples of hands.

    There is no suggestion that the arabic numerals be removed, that's an absurd idea. What I was saying is, that it casts a different light on the type of clock. The standard scots round faced clocks, also the irish are in the main, quite plain and severe. The drumheads, scots-regency, are of a different category, but still the dials are quite plain. Your clock's case, as with that of Chris's shown on the study thread is a "pretty" case, and probably intended for "domestic" use. The hands on Chris's clock are, as you say a bit short, and it is quite probable that at some time they were changed: I posted his dial to show a compromise between the stamped brass and the plain spades.

    I don't quite understand, Thyme's reply to the question of who restored the case. I asked that question, as it could help in answering the question of why the dial was in such a state, when it first appeared here. Was the case restored before you got the clock? As to being stubborn, I'm no less so than another on the board!