This week is all about complicated carriage clocks, this particular model is quite rare in it being a selectable Grand Sonnierie/Petit Sonnierie striking carriage clock with three dial calendar works. As you can see, the photos are a before picture before we complete a full overhaul of the movement and case for a customer. The fully engraved Gorge case has been sent off for re-gilding while we totally dismantle, repair and polish the unusual movement.
As detailed in the photo, This petit sonnierie features two names on it firstly, down the side it says “13600. Le Roy et Fils. 13 Et 15. Palais-Royal. Paris.”. Also, On the back plate the Drocourt stamp can clearly be seen although it looks slightly smudged. It is almost certain that this clock was manufactured by Drocourt (his number 23400) and also retailed by Le Roy. We will be polishing this clock using an age old tradition of using Chalk. It gives a finish that cannot be replicated using modern products.
Its Tick Tock Thursday and this week has seen us fully restore an early Grand Sonniere Striking Austrian clock from the Bedermeier period. This particular clock did look very sorry for itself with worn case, missing mother of pearl and very worn movement. Dating from around c1820. Grand Sonniere clocks whilst short in duration clocks were prized for there fine complicated movements. The case has been repaired and re-ebonized, the delicate mother of pearl has also been cleaned and replaced where needed. These early clocks are not to be confused with the later mass produced models as these are totally hand made. The miniature movement is rammed with wheels and levers therefore there isn’t much room for everything to work as it should! This clock also features a pull repeat and also an ingenious “silence” lever hidden in the dial surround. It is now for sale! Interested?
This weeks horological shenanigans has seen us start the full restoration of a rare Charles Frodsham precision wall mounted regulator number 835. The 10-inch silvered dial signed Chas Frodsham, London, 835. With strike/silent lever at XII, the substantial fusee and chain movement with six turned tapered pillars, dead beat escapement with jewelled pallets, maintaining power, high count trains and rack striking on a coiled gong. The backplate signed Chas Frodsham, 84 Strand. The second beat steel flask mercury pendulum is beautifully made. Along with the case with flat top moulded cornice, the glazed trunk door with fluted and scroll-carved sides. The interior with a silvered beat plaque signed Charles Frodsham Clock Maker to the Queen. The moulded base with a scroll-carved corbel 157.5cm. 5ft. 2in.
This week has been really busy! Apart from painting the forth bridge (the new shop!) It’s been a week of month going clocks. The first is a very rare Grande Sonnerie quarter chiming Biedermeier Vienna clock that last for a whole month on one wind! The case is a standard 4ft case with a 70cm drop for the weights. With clocks of this finesse, the attention to detail for the repairer has to be second to none. The amount of power available on a standard Vienna is small. On a month going clock it is simply minuscule! Every pivot, pinion, bush, wheel tooth and pallet face has to be perfect. Any tiny imperfection and they stop! To add to this, this clock has to perform just under 26000 hammer strikes per wind in 70cm of fall.. As you can imagine. These clocks can be… Tricky to say the least.
The second clock is a stunning late 17th century Month going long case clock by Micheal Bird. Dating from around c1685 this clock is old! As well as being 340 years old, these very early month going long case clocks need just as much attention as the complicated Vienna. The brass is fatigued in places and the tooth form is not always perfect so again, every surface, lever and bearing has to perfect to allow this clock to run on its limited power. As you can see from the pictures.. The weight is quite large.. But not too much bigger than a standard long case weight. When testing these early clocks… I find it useful to test each side first. That way when the clock is together fault finding can be efficient without too many red herrings
As we start to dismantle the old workshop for our move. It has prompted a few memories of how we have changed over the years. Here are a few of my favourite images of our lovely little traditional clock shop. It’s going to be hard. But if I can replicate a small bit of this character into our new premises. I will be happy. I want a shop that invites you to simply sit down in one of our comfy chairs. To enjoy the simple pleasure of listening to a sound that is only found here. enjoy!
This week I will need your help. We have receive a possibly important clock and need a collective thought on what it is. The name Harrison always conjures up imaginations on the famous longitude trials and although this clock has the name William Harrison on both the beautifully made porcelain dial and also engraved on the back plate. I am very sceptical that this clock was made by John Harrison’s son.
What we do have though is a very high quality clock. Both in case manufacture and in movement design. The mahogany case had fine ebony inlay and brass cast artwork panels to the sides and rear door. The glazed engraved bezel has a “mock” hinge to balance it out and at the base a separate well fitted door that reveals the large half second beat pendulum. The five pillar arched movement is substantial to say the least with Harrison maintaining power, deadbeat escapement, five spoke wheels and rollers on the hammer that strikes two bells at the same time. The skeltonised snail and rack are lovely… but… Wm Harrison is not listed in Walworth! Answers on a postcard
This week we are in happy Dublin collecting a rather lovely and rare bracket clock by the top retailer Tiffany! This particular clock is stamped Tiffany on the movement and is numbered 393. The well made quarter striking clock has a most unusual dial featuring cherubs in the arch and an altogether Art Nouveau feel about it. As you can see. you cannot go to Dublin without sampling a local medicinal brew.
This week has seen us start the restoration on a lovely early 18th century ebonised bracket clock with “silent pull” by John Everell. The case is a wonderfully small in size being 15″ high with the handle down. The natural ageing and patina is simply lovely. We intend to gently clean and wax the case to preserve this finish. The 6″ dial is framed with “flower” spandrels which date this clock to around c1745.
The makers name is engraved in the top arch. John Everell traded from “By the new church” The Strand London from c1730 to c1760. The highly engraved five knopped pillar movement with depictions of birds and scrolls has a verge escapement and a pull mechanism that rings the hours and quarter hours on two bells. As you can see from the photos, the plates have been polished using chalk and look brilliant! The next couple of days should see the rest of the clock repaired and polished.
This week we have been working our way into a very complicated Grand Sonniere carriage clock with three subsidiary dials for day, date and month. The clock has a lever that protrudes under the base to select Petit Sonniere, Grand Sonniere and silent. Grand Sonniere means that the clock strikes the hour on one gong (ding) and the quarter hour on two gongs (as in ding-dong) .. every quarter of an hour! i.e…. at half past three, it will strike.. ding-dong, ding-dong for half past.. then ding, ding, ding for three o’clock.. simples.
On another note, we will be shut tomorrow and Saturday while I travel to Switzerland. Apart from the obvious clock theme, we will be a attempting to climb the north face of the Eiger! Well, to be truthful, we will be travelling on the Junfraujoch railway to the highest station in Europe which happens to be on the top of the tallest mountain in Europe! But I will be “climbing” onto the train. We reopen Tuesday as normal.
This week has seen us restore a very fine and rare precision table regulator of French manufacture. Dating from the Charles X period (1824 – 1830), This piece is in outstanding condition.
The case of this table regulator is veneered in exotic Bubinga and inlaid with contrasting Box Wood. Overall it produces a wonderful case which is glazed on all sides. The front and rear glasses being accessed by removing the pegged top and sliding the glass out. It has been constructed to minimise the ingress of dirt and dust.
The finely made and complicated 14 day duration movement is signed Nicole Paris and has a very large visible escape wheel with dead beat escapement mounted outside the back plate . There is micro adjustment for the beat adjustment. The size of the escapement allows the half second beat pendulum to allow the sweep second hand to rotate once in 60 seconds. The good quality pendulum has nine rod gridiron compensation.
The 4 3/4 inch silvered brass dial unusually displays day and date subsidiary calendar dials and is retained in a finely cast bezel of 6 1/4 inches in diameter which retains all of its original gilding.
Please don’t confuse this hand made precision clock with the factory made mass produced items sold later in the Century. I doubt that this particular type clock was replicated.
It is 24 inches tall , 12 1/2 inches wide and 9 1/2 inches deep at the base.
This week has seen us fully overhaul and restore a stunning striking carriage clock by the maker Soldano. The faultless gilt case has an engine turned silvered dial with perfect white porcelain dial. The case is enhanced by copper gilt Corinthian columns and milled slices to the top and bottom. Soldano was commended on his cases during his life. During the overhaul, I polished the movement using an age old technique using chalk and this gives the brass a shine and colour that is only achieved using this method. Although very Labour intensive it is worth the effort! As you can see from the video.
This singing bird box has flown in all the way from Zurich in Switzerland. And the little birdie told me hes here for a thorough clean and restoration. As you can see, his little feathers are a bit scruffy. Also, he doesn’t quite bob up and down as he should. Apart from that, he is a chirpy little fella and is really looking forward a good bath! He even has a bird shaped key! When he has been returned back to his full glory, he will be for sale.
The sun is out and we have just finished this absolutely lovely local clock by Thomas Johnson of Chesterfield. This clock dates from somewhere between c1800 and c1830. It has a most wonderful inlaid oak case with shells and leaves and cross banding to the edges. This clock has the more unusual Arabic numerals to the dial. Featuring a floral display with real gold leaf highlights.
A bit of case restoration on two beautiful 18th century bracket clocks. The first is a large, very deep red mahogany bracket clock by Barrauds of London. The case has heavy Corinthian columns to the four corners and ornate hand cut brass fretwork panel to the side. The painted dial with date ring has been sent away for sympathetic restoration of the winding holes as they have become chipped over time. The highly engraved movement is currently being totally overhauled by me and should be on test very soon.
The second clock is a lovely mid 18th century mahogany veneered clock by James Eley. James worked from 1753 to 1795 and he produced some very well made clocks. This particular one has the “better” cross cut mahogany veneer to the inner masking. Also featuring a lovely brass frets to the front top corners. The movement for this clock has a very highly engraved back-plate and verge (crownwheel) escapement. And also includes a complicated dial with two subsidiary dials, date ring and ornate spandrels.
This week we’ve finish the very rare Georgian bracket clock that we illustrated a few weeks ago. This well proportioned George II inverted bell top mahogany bracket clock by the 18th century maker Nathaniel Style. This clock has received the most careful of restorations to retain its original shellac finish. Which is in an amazing original condition and its original winding key.
It is not very often that a completely original base model clock appears in such amazing condition. When acquired by us, this clock was covered in many layers of grime and dust. Having spent at least 100 years in a dry attic of a large house. I have included a couple of photographs of the case being carefully cleaned to reveal its totally original finish. I have done this to demonstrate that we have not re-polished this clock in any way.
The very well made case is veneered in a good quality mahogany. With it being a base model it is devoid of any brass frills and fussiness and has a simple wooden fret to the two top corners of the front door and a substantial brass handle to the top. The rear door has been made far more substantially than is required and still has the case makers chisel marks that have been let in to allow the pendulum the swing freely. I cannot express how lovely this clock is and has to be seen to be believed.
The timepiece movement has a crown wheel (verge) escapement and has its original suspension holding the “free” pendulum. This type of escapement was a transition between the rigid knife edge type crown wheel escapement where the pendulum is directly connected to the pallet arbour and the anchor escapement with its separately suspended pendulum and reduced pendulum arc. This escapement has a large pendulum arc. This is demonstrated by the mock pendulum during operation but the maker is clearly trying to experiment with the new technological developments that were coming into horology. The movement has been totally overhauled by me. However it is in as original a condition as I can get it without removing any of its past history.
It is very rare that these timepiece clocks survived beyond the 19th century because they were in essence a base model without any frill, striking mechanisms or alarm work. They simply told the time. As was the case with “modern” 1950s mantle clocks of today. These basic clocks were mistreated and thrown away when worn out due to the cost of repairing them.
This clock has somehow managed to be carefully stored away when it finally became surplus to requirements or the cost of repair outweighed the value of the clock and stayed there for many years! The patina and simple elegance of this clock has to be seen to be fully appreciated. I believe it would be a very good addition to any collection or someone with an eye for Georgian style.
Nathaniel Style is recorded as working at Wood Street, Cheapside, London. Becoming free of the Clock makers Company in 1725 and retiring in 1773.