Any info on Samuel Smith of Newcastle?

ToddT

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I purchased this longcase clock this weekend. Just got it home and am beginning to look at it. So far the only Samuel Smith I've found is from Walton-on-Trent from about 1829 into the late 1850s, but that's a long way from Newcastle. Looks to be fairly original. Can see the scribe marks on the front plate. Case needs some work. I'll post more info as time permits. But I'd be interested right now on any info for Samuel Smith of Newcastle. Thanks!

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ToddT

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Thank you for that, Dick and Roughbarked. I had checked these. Most seem to be from the area between Birmingham and Sheffield. The closest one is from Middleborough, which is still a ways from Newcastle but the dates didn't seem close. This clock was listed as circa 1800. From the reading I've been doing (Loomes, Robey) that would seem to be about right, or it might even be a bit earlier.

There was an interesting note found in the clock. The note is old (50 years?) and reads: "1 Grandfathers Clock from Stowe House - England costing 2500.00 owned by Mr. Clements - Bay City - Regent of Un of Mich and gave airport to Bay City."

William Clements (1861-1934) was an industrialist from Bay City, MI who made his fortune building equipment used to build the Panama Canal. He grew up in Ann Arbor and graduated from University of Michigan in 1882. He was also a significant book collector of old and rare books. He more-or-less built the William Clement Memorial Library at UofM to house his collection.

Stowe House is a huge estate in England. Due to no longer being able to support the estate, the family had the house and contents auctioned in 1921. The auction took 19 days! So these dates would work out for William Clements, now a wealthy 60-year-old, being on-hand at a significant auction in England in order to buy books (and possibly other things). The catalog for the auction has been digitized and includes a listing for "A grandfather's clock, in a Sheraton oak and inlaid case" on page 115.

William Clements married his second wife in 1931. He was 70 and she was 50. He died of a heart attack in 1934. His widow lived until 1973.

My understanding from the auctioneer is that this clock came out of the estate of a 90-year-old collector from Holt, MI. If this person had purchased the clock from the Clements estate in 1973-1974, this person would have been 43-44 at the time. If this information had been provided at the time of the sale and jotted down at the time, then that note would be almost 50 years old.

I realize this is all speculation and none of it is proof of anything. But it is very interesting!

I did see some names scratched on the back of the dial with dates of 1885, 1901, and 1995. I'll have to see if I can decipher more from those scratchings.
 

ToddT

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Yes, I assume so. If I can eventually read the names, it would be interesting if we could align them with anyone.
 

JimmyOz

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Baillie's Watchmakers & Clockmakers of the World Vol 1 has 'Samual Smith Newecastle-o-T, 1825'.
 

novicetimekeeper

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It looks mid 18th century on, always hard to dare Northern clocks they ran styles on later than makers nearer London. The spandrels don't help, Tompion used them in 1709 and they were popular until the end of the brass dial period.


Not sure about the Stowe connection unless the family had another estate in the North and items came down but this isn't a grand house clock but a far more humble provincial one. At the time this was made longcase were out of fashion in London and very few made there so the fabulously rich, as owners of Stowe at the time were, wouldn't be likely customers. Another of their houses was sold to the Crown as a private house for GEORGE III's queen and turned into Buckingham Palace for George IV though it was still being worked on during William IV reign and I think Victora was the first to use it as a Palace.
 

jmclaugh

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1825 seems a tad late for this clock. There is a Samuel Smith listed in Newcastle-Under-Lyme 1759, died or left 1774.
 

ToddT

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Interesting. I didn't realize there was another Newcastle. I was associating this with Newcastle-on-Tyne (I have another long case from that area). Newcastle-under-Lyme is not that far from the Tatenhill and Walton-on-Trent areas where a Samuel Smith (later Samuel Smith and Sons) are listed between about 1829 and 1851. But again, this clock seems a bit earlier than that.
 

novicetimekeeper

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That's a good spot, I should have picked up on that, yes there are two and in the days before trains and wider travel they were both referred to simply as Newcastle. (but said with a different accent.)

Jonathan's dates fit well with the design.
 

novicetimekeeper

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Jonathan, where did you see this listing? Thanks!

In the Central England book by McKenna you find,

Smith Samuel, 1759-73

free by purchase 1760, Possibly the man apprenticed to John Gardner in London. Died or left Newcastle by 1774.
 

jmclaugh

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The problem of course with Smith is it is such a common name linking them is problematic.
Jonathan, where did you see this listing? Thanks!
Loomes' Watchmakers & Clockmakers of the World 21st C Edition.
 

ToddT

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The dial, while beautiful, is dirty and dull. I see remnants of what looks like old Brasso polish in some of the engraving and spandrels. There are also some fingerprints showing.

I'm not necessarily of the mind to restore this like new, with re-silvered chapter rings, etc. If anything, I'd like to take more conservative approaches first and see the results before going any further. Certainly I can start with simple soap, water, and probably a soft toothbrush.

What recommendations do you have for this? I'm not in a hurry to get started and want to consider valid options. I've read about cleaning with vinegar and salt or lemon juice and baking soda. I've been reading about re-waxing the engraving, but this doesn't look in too bad a shape and I may wish to leave it as it is. I've watched videos regarding cleaning and re-silvering. I'm hesitant to take any abrasive to this, even as fine as, say, 600- or 1000-grit wet/dry paper.

And I realize this can be a controversial topic with some leaning towards doing nothing to the other side of a complete restoration like new.

Primarily I'd like to take something that is beautiful as it is, though dirty and dingy, and make it more attractive, without the splotches and old polish and fingerprints. Thoughts?
 

jmclaugh

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As you want to leave it pretty much as is washing up liquid should remove the dirt etc. You could clean the chapter ring with cream of tartar. Mix some in water so you have a paste which in not too thin or thick and use it like a polish and wipe clean with a damp cloth. It will remove dirt and tarnish and leave it brighter but not overly shiny. I've used it and it works well.
 

novicetimekeeper

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There is an environmentally friendly range of cleaners called horogrene. You can buy a small quantity set quite cheaply. A tooth brush is handy but also a soft brass wire brush as the dial plate has been planished and will be much harder than soft brass bristles.

Don't clean the back of the dial plate, only the front

Make sure you rinse and dry thoroughly.

Jonathan's proposal of cream of tartar for the silvered parts is good, it is a mild abrasive, and also a ligand used to mop up copper ions during resilvering. I have used it instead of resilvering, and often as a way of seeing if I must resilver.

Rewaxing is done before resilvering so if you don't want to resilver you can't properly rewax, however I have only ever had one chapter ring rewaxed and that had been electroplated so all the wax fell out in the pickle. Usually a bit of wax loss is not harmful to the appearance of a clock.
 

NigelW

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Newcastle under Lyme in Staffordshire had an significant clock making industry in the 18th century. An ancestor of mine was one of three brothers who were clockmakers there in the late 17th and early 18th century. I have a lantern clock c.1680 signed by his older brother.
 

NigelW

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Neat! What were their names?
Thomas, John and Joseph Swinnerton. My maternal grandmother was a Swinnerton, descended from John. Clocks by signed by Thomas and Joseph seem to be more common than those signed by their brother.
 

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