Grandfather clocks, also called longcase clocks by horologists, were invented after Dutchman Christiaan Huygens applied a pendulum as a clock-winding device in But it wasn't until about when clockmakers mastered the workings of the pendulum for accurate timekeeping in conjunction with an anchor escapement -- the mechanical device that gives a pendulum its swing. If you own a longcase clock, determining its age can tell you how much it is worth. After , most clocks were mass-produced by German and American manufacturers, effectively putting an end to the valuable custom-made grandfather clocks. English clockmakers crafted clocks with brass dials from about to Early brass-dial grandfather clocks had only one clock hand, since to clock owners, the hour of the day was more important than minutes.
What should I look for in the cheeks? Anything else I should look closely at? I'm afraid the next time I see it, will be decision time. Jan 22, 4, 34 48 Country Flag: Here's a pdf on the topic, by Dennis Radage. Looking at the hood again, does it not have an opening door? The capitals to the pillars look odd as in not matched. One appears to be out of place. I wonder if the hood was dropped at some time and has had a lot of repairs. The door does open, although the hinged side doesn't seem to be attached at the bottom.
I should have look closer to see the problem when I was there. Hi Mark, That red finish inside looks like red lead paint, which was used inside a lot of old furniture that I've come across, especially chests of drawers and wardrobes dating from the 19th century.
Whether this suggests that the case is later is another matter; it could have been painted at any time. It's hard to say what the rest of the case is under all that old finish, but mahogany is most likely I think.
There are so many variants of mahogany. The red lead paint was used inside pine carcases which were veneered on the outside. I don't know if this was done to try and disguise the fact that they weren't solid. Any percentage guess as far as originality, or if I should run from it?
What do I still need to look more closely at before I make my final decision on the clock? If I remember correctly Mark Hawkins 2 died around , feel free to correct me! This dealer is definitely one who hasn't adjusted to the new reality, and I'll most likely wait until he has no choice but to sell it at whatever price he can get.
All I can hope for is if I do buy it, I don't find out it's been so altered that it's not worth the wood it's made from. I took more pics to get as much info as I can.
The change in decor is due to its joining the B. Gaunt in my home. Probably paid too much but I like the clock. Any info from these pics would be great. His clocks and watches are sought after and are held in high regard in many collections.
Prior was born in and died in according to Baillie. We can quickly determine the following. 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.
Dating a Grandfather Clock
The hands are non-matching steel. 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. 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.Antique Longcase Clock chiming on bells 19th Century
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. 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 wood that made up the longcase had to come from the trees of the region. The first clocks were primarily made from oak. But the best wood cases contained veneers in walnut and ebony. A lot of work went into the construction of the case with intricate moldings, expensive brass fittings and detailed inlays. Clockmakers started using mahogany in about , as it was an expensive imported wood.
Top of the line, mahogany- or walnut-cased grandfather clocks also contained expensive movements, ornamentation and attention to detail.
Dating brass dial longcase clocks
As a native Californian, artist, journalist and published author, Laurie Brenner began writing professionally in She has written for newspapers, magazines, online publications and sites. Brenner graduated from San Diego's Coleman College. Skip to main content. The Brass Facts English clockmakers crafted clocks with brass dials from about to Hands to Face While individual features alone are not enough to determine the age of a grandfather clock, combining different elements such as its face, hands, spandrels -- the ornamentation near the clock face -- and movement pillars can lock in its age.
Safety in Numbers Roman numerals prevailed on clock faces made from approximately to , but you could also find Arabic numbers on grandfather clocks from as early as -- though rare -- through The Tale in the Tree Until , grandfather clocks were custom-made.