1930s Cubist, Deco, Bauhaus? Made by...?

Discussion in 'Your Newest Clock Acquisition' started by Peter Planapo, Oct 10, 2019.

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  1. Peter Planapo

    Peter Planapo Registered User

    Mar 23, 2019
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    Hi all,

    I found this Westminster chiming mantel clock at a street market last Sunday, and was taken with the style since most mantel clocks of the period seem to be Napoleon hats.

    It seems to be clearly late 1920s to 1930s, but I'm at a loss to describe the style. It doesn't look English to me (but it might be, of course). Cubist, Bauhaus, Deco or since there's probably some overlap, a combination of two, or all three? Could the case have been made in Germany? It has English writing on the dial, Foreign, Chime, Silent... but the writing is obviously by hand, though I can't say if the words were written by hand on the clock, or on the silk screen or litho plate, or whatever was used.

    Then there's the movement. Looks German, nice detailing like machined pinions, bushed pivots and slotted barrel mounts. No marking at all except FOREIGN, legally compulsory here after 1926. But I wonder why no maker's mark?

    Does anyone recognise it?

    Peter

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  2. Steven Thornberry

    Steven Thornberry User Administrator
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    The hand writing might be someone's attempt to "refresh" the original writing, which perhaps became worn and faded. If the word "Foreign" on the dial was there originally, that, in combination with the word "Foreign" on the movement, would suggest that the clock is not English. Perhaps a better picture of the back plate of the movement would be helpful.
     
  3. Peter Planapo

    Peter Planapo Registered User

    Mar 23, 2019
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    Yes, that's entirely possible. I looked with a bright light and x20 loupe and the writing was definitely put on the clock by hand rather than onto a printing plate. But I can see no trace of any faded lettering underneath (which may just mean the writer did an accurate job in tracing). However, the writing is erratic, all over the place, and I believe if there were properly printed letters underneath, I'd see traces of them, especially since all the other silk screening on the chapter ring is in excellent condition.

    This pic of the back plate is only to show the layout. There are no markings at all other than the word "foreign", which can be seen in the fourth image which is of the bottom right of the back plate.

    Now I'm thinking more about it, I feel that the design of the number 10 on the chapter ring is more typically German than English. But I could be wrong and probably am.

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  4. new2clocks

    new2clocks Registered User
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    Peter,

    Most of the clocks sold in the U.K. with "Foreign" on the face and / or movement tend to be from Germany, but this does not mean that such a clock could only have been from Germany.

    To my knowledge, there was no U.K. requirement to have a trademark on either the face or movement.

    If the dial did not originally have "Foreign" imprinted on it, perhaps the case and face were locally (U.K.) made with a German movement.

    I would describe the clock style as Deco.

    Regards.
     
  5. Peter Planapo

    Peter Planapo Registered User

    Mar 23, 2019
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    Thanks New2,

    Yes, I thought deco, but if it's German-made, then I thought more likely Bauhaus. My own 1930s British clocks are all a sombre dark oak, while this clock is tiger birch.

    The Merchandise Marks Act 1926 required imported goods to state their origin ("foreign" was ok). Prior to that, goods imported blank could be and were being sold as British.

    I have several 1930s clocks with German movements, some in cases that are clearly in the German style, others in possibly British cases, but none has Germany or Foreign on the front, only on the movement. The "chime/silent" is always printed, of course. On this clock, maybe the spaces on the chapter ring were left blank so that the appropriate language could be filled in, but it does seem very odd. I thought it might be an amateur home-made job, but the case would be very difficult to make so well, with the milling of wood, the chrome and striped bakelite feet, the heavy chrome door with its convex glass and so on.

    If this movement isn't German, what could it be? What other country had an industry in mass produced clock movements? USA, yes, but it's not Seth Thomas, I don't know any other mantel clock makers of that era. Hungary, Poland, Switzerland, something like that? I did image searches on HAC, Junghans, Becker, Kienzle, UWS, Kieninger, Hermle, one or two others, but couldn't find any backplates resembling mine with such huge chime wheels.

    I forgot to photograph the front plate and the inside when I had the mvt out for cleaning (there was nothing written on it). I doubt I'll be pulling it out again soon; replacing it was quite a business as the movement is rather bigger than the door opening, and only goes in one way at a certain angle. and the 8 retaining screws are almost impossible to get to. I needed to grind a special screwdriver head to hold the screw slots tight. The first time I replaced it and screwed it in, I realised the gongs wouldn't fit; the gongs must be installed first followed by the movement, the reverse of all other chimers I've played with.

    Here is a better pic of the back. Hoping someone will recognise it.

    Peter

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