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Thread: Clock Labels

  1. #1
    Registered User George Nelson's Avatar
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    Question Clock Labels

    Hi, Friends!

    Just a quick question: Why do so very many clock labels have water stains on them? One would think that the clocks would always be pretty well protected within the house somewhere, away from water and the like. But so many clock labels pictured on the various auction sites and even in my collection have pretty heavy water stains on them. What does everyone think the cause of these might be? Curious minds want to know...

    Best to all,

    George Nelson
    Time is a great story teller... Irish Proverb

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Clock Labels (By: George Nelson)

    A very good question. How is it possible they were all set on the floor of a damp cellar? Yet most show water rising from the bottom of the case.

  3. #3
    Registered user. stewey's Avatar
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    Default Re: Clock Labels (By: senhalls)

    Could the marks be caused by the deterioration of the water-based inks?

  4. #4

    Default Re: Clock Labels (By: senhalls)

    George,

    All the obsolete items go into the basement or cellar depending upon your terminology. After things stop running or 2nd or 3rd generation acquires something not really desirable well where do you think it went. I have heard stacking up ogee clocks like solders in the basement.

    Andy Dervan

  5. #5

    Default Re: Clock Labels (By: senhalls)

    Quote Originally Posted by senhalls View Post
    A very good question. How is it possible they were all set on the floor of a damp cellar? Yet most show water rising from the bottom of the case.
    I don't know what age we are talking about but most 17th and 18th century English longcase suffered from being on stone floors that were regularly washed with mop and bucket.
    Nick, lots to learn, late starter.

  6. #6
    Registered user. Les harland's Avatar
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    Default Re: Clock Labels (By: novicetimekeeper)

    Could it be condensation caused by poor ventilation and/or cooking in the room where the clock was?

  7. #7

    Default Re: Clock Labels (By: Les harland)

    It might not be water damage. Years ago people had the habit of putting kerosene in their clocks "to keep them lubricated". It usually just sat in there, but sometimes a rag was soaked in it and placed inside the clock. Either way, fumes and liquid would seep into the wood, the movement and of course the labels.
    A man with a clock always knows the time. A man with two clocks is never sure.

  8. #8
    Registered User George Nelson's Avatar
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    Smile Re: Clock Labels (By: shutterbug)

    Hello, fellow collectors!

    Wow! I was not expecting so many wonderful replies to my question! Let me address each one:

    Senhalls: You are quite correct that most of the water damage has come up from the bottom. This lends credence to Andy's speculation about poor basement storage. Every basement I've ever had in houses I've lived in had some amount of water leakage. However, would so many people have chosen to put their old clocks on the floor?
    Stewey: Deterioration of water based inks is also an interesting theory. I'll have to contact my friends at our local University to see what they think about it.
    Novicetimekeeper: Wet floors is most certainly a cause for tall case staining. In fact, my one lone antique tall case, the Asa Hopkins from the very early 1800s, has considerable evidence of being on a wet floor, either from basement storage or wet floors within the house.
    Les: Cooking humidity damage is yet another good thought! I had not considered that as an explanation for so many of the back or inside labels on the kitchen clocks being stained from that cause. Good point!
    And, finally Shutterbug: Yet another great thought. I was aware of the ineffective and harmful practice of putting the kerosene inside their clocks. I did a bit of research about kerosene, and it will indeed stain both paper and wood. This just might be the most plausable theory so far!

    Now, one last thought that came to mind while I was writing. I remember during a bad storm one night, that the area around our chimney leaked a bit. I had an OG clock on the mantle, but thankfully saved it before it got wet. Perhaps, especially in the houses of the 1800s, this sort of thing happened a little more frequently frequently? It could also explain things, since so many of our beloved clocks were placed on top of mantelpieces.

    I thank everyone for their most interesting theories, and look forward to any more thoughts from everyone. I do so love speculating and learning about out timekeepers and their histories!

    My very best to all,

    George
    Time is a great story teller... Irish Proverb

  9. #9

    Default Re: Clock Labels (By: George Nelson)

    Also the glue (probably hoof-and-horn) holding the labels degenerates over time and contributes to the staining.

    JTD

  10. #10
    Registered user. Les harland's Avatar
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    Default Re: Clock Labels (By: George Nelson)

    Quote Originally Posted by George Nelson View Post
    Hi, Friends!

    Just a quick question: Why do so very many clock labels have water stains on them? One would think that the clocks would always be pretty well protected within the house somewhere, away from water and the like. But so many clock labels pictured on the various auction sites and even in my collection have pretty heavy water stains on them. What does everyone think the cause of these might be? Curious minds want to know...

    Best to all,

    George Nelson
    Are they definitely warer stains?
    I was wondering about grease from frying food or nicotine and tar stains from smoking tobacco

  11. #11
    Registered User George Nelson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Clock Labels (By: Les harland)

    Hi, Les,

    The stains I'm referring to are most likely water stains, or a similar fluid. Grease stains would have a different appearance, I believe, as would nicotine and tar examples. I do, however, appreciate your thoughts!

    Best always,

    George
    Time is a great story teller... Irish Proverb

  12. #12
    Registered User George Nelson's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Re: Clock Labels (By: shutterbug)

    Hi, Friends!

    Shutterbug, you're the winner! I had a small piece of label that had come loose from a clock analyzed by my friends at the University of Tennessee. Shutterbug, you were correct in saying that the stains could be from kerosene-soaked rags or fumes. The tests showed strong evidence of kerosene residue! The stains appeared to be from water, but no, this particular stain was from the big K. Should the opportunity present itself, I'll have more stains tested and will report back. Way to go Shutterbug!!!

    Best to everyone,

    George Nelson
    Time is a great story teller... Irish Proverb

  13. #13
    Registered user. stewey's Avatar
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    Default Re: Clock Labels (By: George Nelson)

    Thanks for getting back to us with an explanation...Interesting.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Clock Labels (By: George Nelson)

    That's great detective work. And good to see public university resources being put to good use! I hope the researcher gets a paper out of it.

    As stewed said, thanks for letting us know.

  15. #15
    Registered User George Nelson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Clock Labels (By: zedric)

    Everyone is MOST welcome! I LOVE a solved mystery!

    Best always,

    George
    Time is a great story teller... Irish Proverb

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