Brass was expensive in the 18th century

Discussion in 'General Clock Discussions' started by novicetimekeeper, May 9, 2019.

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  1. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

    Jul 26, 2015
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    We know brass was a lot more expensive than iron. Part of the problem was temperature control when alloying zinc with copper, so they combined zinc ore with copper as they could not control the temperature well enough to alloy the two metals as elements.

    We also know that very posh clocks would get solid silver chapter rings.

    Here we have the other end of the scale, I can't find any record of the maker, not in Bellchambers, Baillies or Loomes. I can't decide if it is Metford ot Melford but can't find anything like it.

    I also don't know if this is lead as advertised, I think it is probably pewter. They were making plates out of it, this seems a natural step.

    DSC_1266.JPG DSC_1267.JPG
     
  2. JTD

    JTD Registered User

    Sep 27, 2005
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    The name is Metford. There is quite a lot of information on Richard Metford of Chard in Clocks Magazine, October 2013 (page 7-8).

    Hope this helps.

    JTD
     
  3. TEACLOCKS

    TEACLOCKS Registered User
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    JTD
    You are like an engineer of Information.
    I love what you do
    Lloyd Watson
     
  4. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    I thought it might be Robert, I wasn't at all sure. Glad he gets a mention somewhere.
     
  5. Uhralt

    Uhralt Registered User
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    The German 18th century clock I presented some time ago also has a pewter chapter ring and gilded pewter spandrels.
    Uhralt
     
  6. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    Yes, I've seen pewter chapter rings on continental clocks, this is my first on an English clock.
     
  7. zedric

    zedric Registered User

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    I have seen a few pewter chapter rings in books from memory. If you want to learn about the history of brass making, there is a book published in 1866, called Birmingham and Midland Hardware District which can be found on-line, and contains a quite detailed history. Once the canal was built to Birmingham (just before 1770), and they now had access to coal to create power, then rolled brass became viable. Around 1780, the Cornish copper miners introduced a price rise, which led to a 7.5% hike in the price of brass overnight. This was unheard of, and may have led to some makers offering alternatives until the price fell back.. Do you have dates for this maker?
     
  8. Jim DuBois

    Jim DuBois Registered User
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    We used a lot of pewter on this side of the pond. This clock, dates 1755, has the pewter chapter ring, as well as the boss, the calendar ring, and of course all the spandrels all of pewter. We jokingly refer to the Blasdel family as "America's master engravers". There were 3 generations of clockmakers in this family and they were all pretty much endowed with the same engraving skills. They were working a bit out in the country when they were making clocks, both in Amesbury Mass. as well as Chester New Hampshire.

    There are also several clockmakers circa 1815-1830 that made clocks with pewter plates including a few Munger clocks. This little banjo clock is not by a known maker, but it is certainly interesting, and it saved brass too.

    20190509_184155 (2).jpg 01.jpg 11_Medium.jpg
     
  9. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    I don't have dates yet, JTD has found an article in Clocks magazine which he is posting to me. I would think before 1750 as the lozenges are rooted.
     
  10. Chris Radano

    Chris Radano Registered User

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    Here are a couple clocks with lead dials.
    Primitive 18th century wag/wall clock
    I don't own either of these any more, so unable to verify if pewter or lead. They were pretty soft dials.
     
  11. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    They do seem much more of a thing in mainland europe, particularly northern europe.

    I have made no effort to test this but I think pewter rather than lead, doesn't seem dense enough for lead, a tin alloy seems more likely. We had plenty of tin back then.
     
  12. DeanT

    DeanT Registered User

    Mar 22, 2009
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    I know many of the continental ones were silver rather than pewter. Many of these the engraving was filled with glass enamel although there aren't many with the original enamel remaining. The melting temp of pewter is below the melting temperature of the glass and consequently silver with its higher melting point would have been required.
     
  13. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    top notch London clocks sometimes had silver, particularly skeletonised chapter rings.
     
  14. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Nick,

    Thomas Pyke of Bridgwater was making use of pewter in clock dials in the late 18th century. There was a three-part article on this in AH, starting in June 2015, (volume 36 number 2).

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  15. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    Perhaps it was a local thing, Chard isn't too far away.
     
  16. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    JTD has very kindly sent me a page from Clocksmagazine which has a detailed readers letter by a former owner of this chapter ring. They found a later more conventional 30 hour with the same signature.

    They also searched the parish records.

    They found a Richard born 1683 who married in Chard in 1703. They had a son, Richard, baptised in 1706. After his wife died in 1712 Richard Senior remarried in 1714 and his profession is shown as Blacksmith.

    The author of the letter concludes that the son was the clockmaker of both clocks, however I'm inclined to believe the pewter dial is from a clock made by Richard Senior, the later thirty hour by Richard Junior.
     
  17. Jim DuBois

    Jim DuBois Registered User
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    Just an aside but does not silver melt at about 962 degrees C and glass at about 1725 C?
     
  18. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Jim,

    Yes, glasses become liquid at 1400ºC to 1600ºC, but the majority of enamel dials are on a copper substrate, which melts at 1085ºC. Enamels are finely powdered glasses which will fuse in the range of around 700ºC to 800ºC, so nowhere near the copper's limit.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
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  19. DeanT

    DeanT Registered User

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    Correct Graham. But 700-800 degrees is above pewter's melting point, hence they either had a brass or silver backing plate.
     
  20. abe

    abe Registered User

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    #20 abe, May 16, 2019
    Last edited: May 16, 2019
    What is the chapter ring made of on my Thomas Lister of Halifax made of? Thom Lister, Jr. died in 1814. What about the rest of the dial?

    IMG_20180207_124840890.jpg

    IMG_20181102_152034883.jpg
     
  21. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    on the clock Mr Lister made it would have been brass that was then silvered. That looks like a more modern replacement, which could still be brass, or might be aluminium.
     
  22. abe

    abe Registered User

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    What are you saying is a more modern replacement? The whole dial or parts of it? Lister engraved his name just below the date dial.
     
  23. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    the chapter ring looks like a more recent replacement, perhaps if you take it off and have a look at the back? It does look engraved and waxed, but the design reminds me of much more recent clocks. Half hour markers like that were used on much earlier clocks, but I've never seen them on an early clock without the quarter hour divisions. The chapter ring also seems to have fixings showing, how is it fixed to the dial?
     

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