BLINKING EYE CLOCK, FACT CHECK FAMILY HISTORY

Jim NZ

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May 6, 2021
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Hi from New Zealand. I have got this old clock operating again. It has had a very hard life, including being retrieved from a farm house fire in 1904, seriously dropped and case damaged... but it has been with the same family for 5 generations. Documented family history with it suggests it was brought from Scotland then taken to a remote farm in NZ in 1859. Question is: Could the clock actually be that old...1859....or is an earliest date estimate possible? While there is a lot written about Blinking Eye clocks on the Internet I have no real knowledge about them. Much I have read seems contradictory or wrong and also there seem to be many copies or reproductions. I am confident the family would be pleased if the historical record could be confirmed or corrected. Thank you.

F507B329-DF64-4A57-A200-2421D8C42BFE.jpeg 88C66B21-2427-4630-B8C3-75BB98F5EF0E.jpeg 9826266C-528E-4293-BC74-AB0987C202F6.jpeg 00E27454-233D-49F9-9FB7-D8D3A2DDB1FE.jpeg
 

rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

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Nov 26, 2009
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Another scarce American clock showing up in New Zealand!

You have clock called a "blinker" or "blinking eye" clock.

They were figural clocks. The cases were painted cast iron and made by the Bradley and Hubbard Company of Meridan CT.

It might have made its way to Scotland and then New Zealand? The date is about right.

Your particular clock is called "the Cavalier".

The case of your clock is, well, a bit in the rough. Damage to the base, bezel door and glass missing, repapered dial, replaced hands, looks repainted. But still very worthwhile!

The movements were small 30 time only lever movements made by a variety of companies. Not sure what showing the back plate adds?

I love these clocks. A search of the Forums will yield further information. For example, see this:

Marine clocks | NAWCC Forums

See specifically postings # 30, #53, and # 59. Information and rec's for further reading.

Here are some teaser pictures:

blinker group.JPG spaniel 1 (2).JPG

These are originals in very good original paint. The first and last of the grouping of 3 are characters from the book "Uncle Tom's Cabin", Sambo and Topsy respectively. The one in the center is "John Bull". The 4th one is a King Charles Spaniel, the rarest of the 4 shown.

Some of the blinkers, like the spaniel, had little pendulum "tic-tac" movements rather than lever movements.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of repainted ones and even worse, a slew of reproductions of various vintages. Some of the older ones are pretty close and may have correct movements, dials and bezels. They were meant to deceive. Some of the more modern ones are so bad, for shame if you can't tell.

Again, thanks for sharing an interesting American clock...from New Zealand!

I wish our American collectors could post such nice things on the Forums.

RM
 
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Jeremy Woodoff

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Jun 30, 2002
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Here is an original blinking eye "lion" model with a pendulum movement. The dial paper is replaced, but all else is original including, I think, the paint, though I've seen others with more color. Jim's "Cavalier" is a good, original clock, deserving of care and maybe a bit of restoration.
IMG_2358.JPG IMG_5451.JPG IMG_5452.JPG
 
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rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

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Nov 26, 2009
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Here is an original blinking eye "lion" model with a pendulum movement. The dial paper is replaced, but all else is original including, I think, the paint, though I've seen others with more color. Jim's "Cavalier" is a good, original clock, deserving of care and maybe a bit of restoration.
View attachment 653503 View attachment 653504 View attachment 653505
Nice.

The lion is a rare one.

There is also a recumbent dog with that movement.

The blinkers were hand painted & one finds variations.

RM
 

Jim NZ

Registered User
May 6, 2021
12
3
3
71
Country
Another scarce American clock showing up in New Zealand!

You have clock called a "blinker" or "blinking eye" clock.

They were figural clocks. The cases were painted cast iron and made by the Bradley and Hubbard Company of Meridan CT.

It might have made its way to Scotland and then New Zealand? The date is about right.

Your particular clock is called "the Cavalier".

The case of your clock is, well, a bit in the rough. Damage to the base, bezel door and glass missing, repapered dial, replaced hands, looks repainted. But still very worthwhile!

The movements were small 30 time only lever movements made by a variety of companies. Not sure what showing the back plate adds?

I love these clocks. A search of the Forums will yield further information. For example, see this:

Marine clocks | NAWCC Forums

See specifically postings # 30, #53, and # 59. Information and rec's for further reading.

Here are some teaser pictures:

View attachment 653495 View attachment 653496

These are originals in very good original paint. The first and last of the grouping of 3 are characters from the book "Uncle Tom's Cabin", Sambo and Topsy respectively. The one in the center is "John Bull". The 4th one is a King Charles Spaniel, the rarest of the 4 shown.

Some of the blinkers, like the spaniel, had little pendulum "tic-tac" movements rather than lever movements.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of repainted ones and even worse, a slew of reproductions of various vintages. Some of the older ones are pretty close and may have correct movements, dials and bezels. They were meant to deceive. Some of the more modern ones are so bad, for shame if you can't tell.

Again, thanks for sharing an interesting American clock...from New Zealand!

I wish our American collectors could post such nice things on the Forums.

RM
Grateful for that information and the links - thanks. Some amazing and quirky figures were created. Obviously these clocks present a very diverse and interesting collecting field. Great also to know that a manufacture date of 1859 is a definite possibility. As noted, the clock is not in particularly good condition but it has so many family and local history stories associated with it, plus "backwoods" repair jobs - including some done by family members - that more than make up for its faults. The family will pick up the clock later today so will be pleased to know this information.
 

Jim NZ

Registered User
May 6, 2021
12
3
3
71
Country
Here is an original blinking eye "lion" model with a pendulum movement. The dial paper is replaced, but all else is original including, I think, the paint, though I've seen others with more color. Jim's "Cavalier" is a good, original clock, deserving of care and maybe a bit of restoration.
View attachment 653503 View attachment 653504 View attachment 653505
That is a interesting clock and fortunate to have one that it is highly original. The family's clock now works fine but could maybe benefit from some case work. I will find out what, if anything, they would like done further. Thanks for your post.
 
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rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

NAWCC Member
Nov 26, 2009
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That is a interesting clock and fortunate to have one that it is highly original. The family's clock now works fine but could maybe benefit from some case work. I will find out what, if anything, they would like done further. Thanks for your post.
I would elect to leave the clock as is.

It speaks of its history.

RM
 
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Jim NZ

Registered User
May 6, 2021
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Agreed. "Do no harm" applies.

If it needs to sit level to operate, then a "temporary" leg could be added to the bottom.

One of these was featured on the PBS TV show "Antiques Road Show" Season 20 which I saw just last night.
The clock stands level held on the centre section left hand side of the base so no problem there. Father and son - 5th and 6th generation family members - collected the clock today and are “over the moon” to have it working and like it just as it is currently appears and plan to feature it in the new house the family are constructing. So, a good outcome, and thanks to Forum members for helpful posts.

0D8C3EF3-CAB0-4EE3-A46D-AA9D82BC3F7D.jpeg
 

rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

NAWCC Member
Nov 26, 2009
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The clock stands level held on the centre section left hand side of the base so no problem there. Father and son - 5th and 6th generation family members - collected the clock today and are “over the moon” to have it working and like it just as it is currently appears and plan to feature it in the new house the family are constructing. So, a good outcome, and thanks to Forum members for helpful posts.

View attachment 653657
For appearances, it’s good that it is level. However, it doesn’t need to be level to run properly as it has a lever movement.

RM
 

rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

NAWCC Member
Nov 26, 2009
5,868
1,220
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The clock stands level held on the centre section left hand side of the base so no problem there. Father and son - 5th and 6th generation family members - collected the clock today and are “over the moon” to have it working and like it just as it is currently appears and plan to feature it in the new house the family are constructing. So, a good outcome, and thanks to Forum members for helpful posts.

View attachment 653657
Looking at this picture which shows the paint better in good natural light, I do think it may be original??

Certainly does have age.

They looked quite pleased.

A five generation clock. How rare it is to be able to trace a clock back more than a generation or 2.

Very nice story and again, thanks for sharing!!

RM
 

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