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  1. #1

    Default Black "Finish" - Paint, or What?

    A friend game me an old Ingraham clock to look at. I've removed the movement, cleaned it (a bit) and oiled it, and have it running on a plywood mount. The mainspring for the chime is broken, but time works okay, and that's all they're interested in. The movement is engraved:

    E. INGRAHAM CO.
    PATD OCT. 8 '78, NOV. 11 '79
    BRISTOL CONN.

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    No serial number or date below that. I read on the Net that this means the clock was made prior to 1897, when they started adding serials and dates. I've checked all available Ingraham catalogs, and can't find this model, or anything close. In fact, /very/ few wall-mounted kitchen clocks are in the catalogs. I have found this same model, but as a mantel clock, in photos on the Net, and have also found the same design with a different lower portion (base) as a wall clock. (There are so few kitchen wall clocks that I've even seen pictures of, that I wonder if it's been modified since new, possibly with the base of another clock added. Possible?)

    The clock has both a thermometer and bubble level (I took the brass plate off the level while working on it). It used to have an alarm mechanism, but that's gone. The metal dial itself appears original, but the paper dial has been replaced, with only one hole located in it. Well done, though. So, I imagine that was done after the chime mainspring failed, to keep people from trying to wind it (seems silly though). Obviously, a cheap and more contemporary dial, not being clearly printed and having "Made in U.S.A." printed on it.

    Okay, per my post title, this clock appears to have a black paint or finish applied it. I can't believe this was done originally and just "turned black", and can only guess someone painted it at some point, but can't imagine why. The base portion (which was loose, so I removed it) is also painted black, as is all the back, except the very front of the base does not seem to have the same black finish on it. As I can't believe the person painting it neglected to paint that part, I can only assume someone tried to remove the black paint in this area.

    I'd like to know more about the clock, if possible, but the main thing is: What do to with the black "paint"? What with the scrollwork and "carving", I'm assuming paint stripper would be about the only thing to use. Of course, that will also remove any filler used and will require the clock to be restained and refinished. My friend would prefer it just look "old", but I'm not sure the black finish is best, and don't really believe it's even original.

    Thoughts and suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
    Registered user. Sevant's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black "Finish" - Paint, or What?

    I am not aware of any techniques that would not take a MASSIVE amount of time. You may want to try cleaning it as it does look like there is some brown showing (kinda tough to tell from the pic) on the bottom corner of the clock suggesting that the clock could be very old/aged. After you give it a good cleaning and you determine is has been painted the first step would be to determine what type of paint they used. Hopefully someone will be around shortly and maybe teach both of us something?
    Last edited by Sevant; 07-22-2017 at 07:09 PM.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Black "Finish" - Paint, or What? (By: rraisley)

    Is it painted black, or did it come with an ebonized finish?

  4. #4

    Default Re: Black "Finish" - Paint, or What? (By: PatH)

    It appears to be painted black. I never heard of this style of clock having an ebonized finish. It appears crudely done, but that could just be age. None of it is smooth. The inside of the clock, as well as the portion of the front behind the dial, is natural finish (not painted black). So either it's painted after-the-fact, or could it be that it was stored somewhere that turned the finish black? That black?

  5. #5

    Exclamation Re: Black "Finish" - Paint, or What? (By: PatH)

    By the way, an apparently identical clock, but with a different base, is shown about 1/3 the way down this page:

    http://www.discoverclocks.com/e-ingraham-clocks.html

    under "My Clock Needs a Name and Age..." by Sheila. The case and glass are pretty much identical to the one I have, except as I said for the base, it has a thermometer and level as well, but has Arabic numerals on the dial. I realize mine is not an original dial, but in all the pics I've seen in catalogs of Ingraham kitchen clocks, they've all be Roman numeral dials.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Black "Finish" - Paint, or What? (By: rraisley)

    Your clock, with it's attached shelf or bracket, is indeed rare. With it's elaborate late Victorian embellishments, it's not really a kitchen clock, it's a parlor clock. Parlor clocks were frequently made of American Black Walnut, a rather expensive wood, even then. I feel quite certain that it was originally ebonized. It's clearly not painted, as you can partly see the grain of the wood in places. Near the end of the 19thC, there was a vogue for what's now called the "Aesthetic Style", which incorporated design elements from (newly opened) Japan. Aesthetic style decoration runs to schematic, or stylized, floral or vegetative designs (such as your sunflowers on the sides) often executed as shallow, incised, often (and perhaps, in your case, originally) gold-filled vine-like lines. Aesthetic style furniture is frequently, or even usually, ebonized.
    Although dark finishes are mostly out of style today, this was not the case in the Victorian era. So if you want it to look "old", avoid the Ikea look. You might take the advice of our local antiques guru, Terry Addison, who advises cleaning with Gojo. To positively ID it, I'd suggest Tran Du Ly's book on Ingraham clocks- it's available from the NAWCC lending library.

  7. #7
    Registered user. Sevant's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black "Finish" - Paint, or What? (By: Bill Ward)

    I love the GoJo, best clock cleaner I have ever used! Especially for a clock case in this condition.

  8. #8

    Cool Re: Black "Finish" - Paint, or What? (By: Bill Ward)

    Thanks very much for your comments, Bill. I found them very interesting.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Ward View Post
    Your clock, with it's attached shelf or bracket, is indeed rare. With it's elaborate late Victorian embellishments, it's not really a kitchen clock, it's a parlor clock. Parlor clocks were frequently made of American Black Walnut, a rather expensive wood, even then. I feel quite certain that it was originally ebonized. It's clearly not painted, as you can partly see the grain of the wood in places.
    Well, I didn't know if someone tried to clean that off, or what. If it's considered a high-quality finish, though, wouldn't the same black finish be on the case behind the door? Here's a picture with the door open:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Here's a better picture of the base, some of which has the black, and some doesn't:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    I was wrong about all of the back being black; the clock itself is black on the back, but the base is not:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Here's a close-up of the back of the base:
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    And finally, a close-up of the back at the top. The "hanger" looks like something done at the factory (I would think), rather than what I or others might add on. Which makes me think it was originally a wall clock, despite the base being different in some ways:
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    Near the end of the 19thC, there was a vogue for what's now called the "Aesthetic Style", which incorporated design elements from (newly opened) Japan. Aesthetic style decoration runs to schematic, or stylized, floral or vegetative designs (such as your sunflowers on the sides) often executed as shallow, incised, often (and perhaps, in your case, originally) gold-filled vine-like lines. Aesthetic style furniture is frequently, or even usually, ebonized.
    Although dark finishes are mostly out of style today, this was not the case in the Victorian era. So if you want it to look "old", avoid the Ikea look. You might take the advice of our local antiques guru, Terry Addison, who advises cleaning with Gojo.
    Really? Gojo hand cleaner? I was wondering what to try (water, alcohol, paint thinner, 409, etc.).
    To positively ID it, I'd suggest Tran Du Ly's book on Ingraham clocks- it's available from the NAWCC lending library.
    My local library system has book 1 of Tran Du Ly's series, and it's being sent to me.

    I really appreciate these comments. :-)

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Black "Finish" - Paint, or What? (By: rraisley)

    Works great! I use a soft bristle brush, water and paper towels. You need to make sure you have a good space to work in too as you will want to put some plastic down (using the toothbrush will get it all over the place). Below is a video of how I do it, others may use a different process though? It is not on a parlor clock but it does cover the process.


  10. #10

    Default Re: Black "Finish" - Paint, or What? (By: Sevant)

    Thanks for the video, Sevant. I will have to try that. One question I had, that I think you answered: You mentioned then using shellac or lacquer afterwards, so Gojo doesn't prevent finishes from applying well? Even stains and such? (Not sure what I'll be doing, if anything, to this one. Cleaning is certainly first, and Gojo sounds great. But depending on what the black and wood areas look like, it could then be stripping, finishing, refinishing, I really have no idea.)

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Black "Finish" - Paint, or What?

    The shellac or lacquer is optional and personally I would only consider doing it if the clock originally and had one of the finishes and it was worn off/flaking in spots. and I was trying to match it up. I would not use either on your clock as that is a very old and rare clock. I would keep it original. If you are committed to getting it refinished take it to a professional, you do not want to learn how to refinish on a clock like that. With that being said, I have never had any issues with it, just make sure you clean it good and give it time to dry (a week or two).
    Last edited by Sevant; 07-23-2017 at 09:28 PM.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Black "Finish" - Paint, or What? (By: Sevant)

    Well, as I mention above, I'm still confused as to what the original finish was. If it was an ebonized finish, as Bill thinks it was, I still wonder why there was no ebony finish behind the door, on the main clock case. I would also have expected it to have ebony on the inside, but that's just what I think it /should/ have, to match, not what it would have. I definitely agree that it should be cleaned first, and intend to use Gojo, as suggested. Maybe I'll post again after that is done, to help determine what the original finish was. From what I see, the black does not seem professionally done, and if so, then probably not original. But we'll see.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Black "Finish" - Paint, or What? (By: rraisley)

    You may be dealing with a darkened finish resulting from years of "Baking" in a very hot attic. If you notice, the "Ebonized Finish" is not present where the door overlays the face frame. Shellac and Varnish can become extremely dark when they're baked.
    The man who knows how to make it work will always have a job, The man who knows why it makes it work will always be his boss. Website

  14. #14

    Default Re: Black "Finish" - Paint, or What? (By: BLKBEARD)

    Quote Originally Posted by BLKBEARD View Post
    You may be dealing with a darkened finish resulting from years of "Baking" in a very hot attic. If you notice, the "Ebonized Finish" is not present where the door overlays the face frame. Shellac and Varnish can become extremely dark when they're baked.
    I agree. After cleaning with Gojo, if there is not substantial change in colors, what is the best way to determine if it is some sort of black finish, or simply darkened original finish?

  15. #15

    Default Re: Black "Finish" - Paint, or What? (By: rraisley)

    If you remove the hinges, you might find "Virgin Finish" beneath them.
    The man who knows how to make it work will always have a job, The man who knows why it makes it work will always be his boss. Website

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