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19th c Banjo clock

Mechmusicmuseum

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Jan 27, 2012
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Just acquired a rosewood (or at least, rosewood colour) banjo timepiece with 7" cream painted dial, black roman chapters, moon hands, in a case resembling an E Howard No. 5, except that it has a fine panel in the base of American and British sailing ships fighting (suggesting 1812, but the clock is quite a bit later than that) and a colourful tapered glass with flowers in the waist area. The movement sort of resembles a Howard one but there are several differences. The click on the great wheel is straight, whereas Howard ones are generally curved. All the illustrations of Howard movements I have found show the top pillar pins on the front plate vertical, whereas these are horizontal. There is no maker's stamp or mark on the movement, but there is a carefully scratched signature "Primrose Bensom Fecit", or possibly Hensom, or maybe even Benson, but the last letter is clearly an m.

Howard movements generally have cast iron weights and wood rod pendulums. Ours has a wire pendulum and a lead weight.

The movement is almost identical to movements by Martin Cheney of Montreal (type 2), but many of them tend to look like that.

I have read that some of the makers employed apprentices to finish movements, spoke out wheels etc. I am wondering if Ms (presumably) Bensom might have been one of those? If so, to whom was she apprenticed?

Does anyone have any comments?
 

bruce linde

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Andy Dervan

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Photographs would be very helpful.

Earlier Willard Patent timepieces (more correct term for banjo clocks) typically used iron pendulum rod. Beginning in 1840s the wood pendulum rod became popular.

Case and glass styles became simplified beginning in 1820s to lower cost.

The "Howard" style case was popularized by Howard & Davis beginning in 1842. It used simple black and gold glasses

Since your clock is unsigned it is difficult to determine who made. However, how the movement was attached to the case provides key information where is was made:

single bolt through back of the case - Boston
upper left corner and lower right corner of back plate - North Attleboro, MA

George Hatch in N. Attleboro made singificant numbers of unsigned timepieces from 1850-1870

It is likely someone replaced the traditional black and gold glass reverse painted glasses with fancier reverse painted glasses.

Paul J. Foley wrote an extremely well researched book on titled "Willard Patent Time Pieces" that documented their development and production 1810-1920.

Andy Dervan
 

Mechmusicmuseum

Registered User
Jan 27, 2012
15
10
3
Revelstoke BC Canada
www.revelstokenickelodeon.com
Country
Region
Photographs would be very helpful.

Earlier Willard Patent timepieces (more correct term for banjo clocks) typically used iron pendulum rod. Beginning in 1840s the wood pendulum rod became popular.

Case and glass styles became simplified beginning in 1820s to lower cost.

The "Howard" style case was popularized by Howard & Davis beginning in 1842. It used simple black and gold glasses

Since your clock is unsigned it is difficult to determine who made. However, how the movement was attached to the case provides key information where is was made:

single bolt through back of the case - Boston
upper left corner and lower right corner of back plate - North Attleboro, MA

George Hatch in N. Attleboro made singificant numbers of unsigned timepieces from 1850-1870

It is likely someone replaced the traditional black and gold glass reverse painted glasses with fancier reverse painted glasses.

Paul J. Foley wrote an extremely well researched book on titled "Willard Patent Time Pieces" that documented their development and production 1810-1920.

Andy Dervan
Thank you for all that Andy. The movement is fitted to the case with short countersunk bolts at lower left and upper right corners, with square nuts behind the case. I'll add some pictures shortly.

David Evans
 

Mechmusicmuseum

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Jan 27, 2012
15
10
3
Revelstoke BC Canada
www.revelstokenickelodeon.com
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Another snippet - I have taken some pictures and will upload them shortly.

The painted panel in the base depicts two ships in battle - one US, the other British. I have been doing a little research on the flag flown by the US ship. It has 8 stars in a medallion and stripes, which apparently depicts the flag of a Confederate sympathiser after the secession of Virginia in April 1861, which may help date the paining at least.

More to follow.

David

 

Mechmusicmuseum

Registered User
Jan 27, 2012
15
10
3
Revelstoke BC Canada
www.revelstokenickelodeon.com
Country
Region
Just acquired a rosewood (or at least, rosewood colour) banjo timepiece with 7" cream painted dial, black roman chapters, moon hands, in a case resembling an E Howard No. 5, except that it has a fine panel in the base of American and British sailing ships fighting (suggesting 1812, but the clock is quite a bit later than that) and a colourful tapered glass with flowers in the waist area. The movement sort of resembles a Howard one but there are several differences. The click on the great wheel is straight, whereas Howard ones are generally curved. All the illustrations of Howard movements I have found show the top pillar pins on the front plate vertical, whereas these are horizontal. There is no maker's stamp or mark on the movement, but there is a carefully scratched signature "Primrose Bensom Fecit", or possibly Hensom, or maybe even Benson, but the last letter is clearly an m.

Howard movements generally have cast iron weights and wood rod pendulums. Ours has a wire pendulum and a lead weight.

The movement is almost identical to movements by Martin Cheney of Montreal (type 2), but many of them tend to look like that.

I have read that some of the makers employed apprentices to finish movements, spoke out wheels etc. I am wondering if Ms (presumably) Bensom might have been one of those? If so, to whom was she apprenticed?

Does anyone have any comments?
Hi

Various pictures attached. Will post some of the complete clock when I have assembled it fully.

Thanks!

David

Bottom panel back.jpg Bottom panel front.jpg Clock.jpg Movement top.jpg Movement.jpg Signature 1.jpg Signature 2.jpg Waist panel back.jpg Waist panel front.jpg
 

Andy Dervan

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It is most likely timepiece produced by George Hatch in N. Attleboro, MA. It was originally supplied with geometric black and gold glasses.

Someone had decided to replace them with crudely done War of 1812 naval scene. There were two popular scenes: Constitution and Guerriere and Victory on Lake Erie on original timepieces just after the war o 1812 and later 20th century reproduction. Unfortunately, these glasses are very crudely done.

Attached is an example of nice reverse glass Constitution and Guerriere tablet from a Waltham WIllard banjo clock from about 1920.

Andy Dervan

Figure  2c - Std Constitution & Guerriere tablet.jpg
 

Mechmusicmuseum

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Jan 27, 2012
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3
Revelstoke BC Canada
www.revelstokenickelodeon.com
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Thanks - you are quite probably right. I wouldn't describe our naval scene as crude - it is quite well done. There could not have been a panel with a central aperture, as the pendulum bob is well below the centre so would hardly be seen.
You mentioned that Hatch put movement fixing holes at top left and bottom right - ours are in the opposite corners, but quite likely he was not consistent. The fixing screws have hand-cut threads, not produced by modern dies, more like a rather well used screw plate.

Regards and thanks.

David Evans
 

rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

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Nov 26, 2009
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Thanks - you are quite probably right. I wouldn't describe our naval scene as crude - it is quite well done. There could not have been a panel with a central aperture, as the pendulum bob is well below the centre so would hardly be seen.
You mentioned that Hatch put movement fixing holes at top left and bottom right - ours are in the opposite corners, but quite likely he was not consistent. The fixing screws have hand-cut threads, not produced by modern dies, more like a rather well used screw plate.

Regards and thanks.

David Evans
Pictures are limited, so take all this with a grain of salt, or 2.

Not sure I would attribute to any particular maker, but I will defer to others?

A late "Howard style" banjo made by any # of potential makers, IMCO.

The name scratched onto the front plate of the movement could be that of someone who serviced or owned the clock.

I doubt the originality of the glasses. I suspect once had gold leaf with black background. That ship glass is quite crudely done. May have age, as the fashion for many years was to "upgrade" plainer banjo tablets with the War of 1812 style US vs. UK naval engagement glasses. Ditto for the throat glass.

The pendulum rod is all wrong. Looks like it once may have had a wooden one, now replaced with a length of wire? Bob also looks wrong. Appears to be one from a shelf clock?

Baffle looks new.

Weight looks crude and home made.

RM
 

bruce linde

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in my admittedly limited experience those mounting holes have been lower left and upper right
 

bruce linde

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and… we/you need more and better photos from multiple angles of all components..ly fir example, front and back of bob, both ends (front and back) of pendulum rod/assembly, etc.
 

Andy Dervan

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The movement holes on back plate are upper right and lower left - consistent with George Hatch produced movements. Some Hatch movements have initials on back of front plate.

The reverse painted glass navel scene is very crude - ships details are vague and smoke was used hide further. Timepieces are my favorite clock and have collected many of them over the from early Roxbury to modern Foster Campos reproductions. Quality presentation timepieces have nicely executed reverse painted glasses. I illustrated one well executed glass from a Waltham Willard timepiece that I used to have in my collection.

There is nothing on the reverse painted glass to identify when or who executed the glass. It probably dates early 20th century as individuals were trying update clocks to make them more marketable.

Andy Dervan
 

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