C1880 French 4 glass restoration really going to need help

turboflyer

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Had this for awhile. But really want to get started. Never done a French movement or exposed escapement. Will search for a book but not sure what I will find. Did go through the past post. My first concerns are is this gilded on the movement hanger. The rest seem to be brass. Second how does the escapement arbor pass thrown the third plate?
Also should I attempt to remove all the glass for brass polishing Or leave it intact? It is not cracked. Lastly would this clock have been polished or completely gilded, maybe an option?
The pic of the nice one is what I think I may have or may not have but sure looks sweet.

E3B22D0F-ABFE-4EDA-8E7E-06625FF9C83C.jpeg 118C7B0F-91D2-487B-9610-02EE785A199D.jpeg E42295DD-FDC6-4E4E-B4B5-BFA014FE8C42.jpeg 2474DD1D-137F-4577-BD7A-10803A242860.jpeg 1A6F2D95-4F91-468F-AFF3-2B1DBA1714A0.jpeg 5B273C51-826D-47C7-A688-AEB1BF9F8501.jpeg 28F521A4-FF76-4BF1-923F-DACA05F55CC7.jpeg ED827672-F308-4219-B529-8A036E57327C.jpeg 28998857-5331-401C-A43F-95AC93E92DBE.jpeg 701AA7AC-0E69-407A-B5B9-85DF94AF994A.jpeg 0C1BC064-A44C-404D-9778-99E62F378879.jpeg 33EDAAFF-090E-4DEC-AE9A-D4FBCE06F826.jpeg C30A1808-EE8A-449B-B045-D9D3F39D5513.jpeg B432E8A6-E374-47CB-837A-13FAF4408CAB.jpeg 5CAB1F96-9F3B-4F3C-BDEF-4FC66DE2075C.jpeg 1D58708F-3ED8-4082-B949-41720B549464.jpeg 7B32B3A9-2D14-49AD-AF5D-D736740D55ED.jpeg B0AB5931-7A69-4CB0-9976-1953DF920EC0.jpeg DC304533-E06E-4DF8-AE16-E32C90233B86.jpeg 15C1F5C5-1144-43F7-97C1-A801D80D9DA5.jpeg
 
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agemo

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Hi,
It is a clock signed by Victor Reclus 14 rue du Temple in Paris registered in 1862. The hanger of the movement is indeed gilded and the cabinet is in polished brass.

Amicalement GG
 
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shutterbug

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When you remove the two screws on the front, the escape wheel should slip right out. Be sure you let the springs down first. The EW is usually the first thing out and the last back in on those.
 
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svenedin

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You mentioned finding a book. “The French Marble Clock” by Nicholas Thorpe is very good. These Pendule de Paris movements are used in many clocks, not just marble.
 
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turboflyer

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You mentioned finding a book. “The French Marble Clock” by Nicholas Thorpe is very good. These Pendule de Paris movements are used in many clocks, not just marble.
Book is ordered Now to find one on gilding. Never thought I would be doing that. Wait , I think I have said that many times in my life.
 

Willie X

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Turbo,

When you disassemble the case, try your best to keep track of any spacers that were used to make the glass tight. Sometimes you can reuse the old ones and sometimes you have to make new ones. The glasses will rattle and chip unless they are held snuggly in place.

Good luck, Willie X
 

svenedin

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By the way, I think your clock would have been mercurically gilded originally ("fire gilding"). The evidence for that is on the photo of the base that you show. The method involves making an amalgam of mercury and gold powder. This is then "painted" on to the parts to be gilded and placed in a fire. The mercury boils off leaving a thick layer of gold behind. You can see some smudges on the base of your clock. I have a French 4 glass too and I spent over 5 years finding one with perfect gilding. Mine too has the odd bit of smudged stray mercuric gilding on the base. Of course this is an extremely dangerous process that was done before any kind of proper health and safety regulations. Unfortunately, electroplating is much thinner and does not look like fire gilding at all.

If you must take the case apart (I would advise against it) be aware that it can suddenly collapse and all the glass fall out. You can lightly pack the inside of the case with newspaper and place elastic bands around the outside but even doing that it is safer with two people (ask me how I know!!).
 
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Willie X

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Yep,
Taking them apart is about the only way to get everything polished and lacquered to a high level. But ... it takes just way to much time! Willie X
 
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svenedin

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Yep,
Taking them apart is about the only way to get everything polished and lacquered to a high level. But ... it takes just way to much time! Willie X
Yes but the problem is it was not polished to start with, it was gilded. Polishing it will certainly remove any remaining gilding and is a destructive process.
 

turboflyer

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Yes but the problem is it was not polished to start with, it was gilded. Polishing it will certainly remove any remaining gilding and is a destructive process.
If all are sure that is the way it is suppose to be I will gild the entire case and bezel. Should the movement be polished?
Oh and thanks Sutter bug the the escapement came out just as you said. Never a doubt.
 

svenedin

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If all are sure that is the way it is suppose to be I will gild the entire case and bezel. Should the movement be polished?
Oh and thanks Sutter bug the the escapement came out just as you said. Never a doubt.
Perhaps I am totally missing something here.........I cannot see what is wrong with your case at all! Personally I think it looks in excellent condition for the age and I would leave it alone. Yes the movement should be polished as it is seen. If any help I can post some pictures of my similar (Samuel Marti) French four-glass which also has a visible Brocot escapement.

Edit: my error! Your first picture is what you think it should look like. I misunderstood. Yes it should look like that. You first picture shows a clock with intact mercuric gilding as mine has.
 
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Willie X

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Post #2 says "the cabinet is in polished brass". Case looks fine to me also.
Willie X
 
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svenedin

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Post #2 says "the cabinet is in polished brass".
Yes but it is not. Now I realise which pictures are which I can see that the OP's clock is gilded brass worn down to the brass in places. It's not actually that bad even so. It's obvious that the case was gilded. For instance, the inside gilding is intact, the back looks better than the front (the effect of being dusted over the years, dust is abrasive, gold is very soft and easily scratched), the pendulum gilding is intact, the bezel gilding is intact. Added to this is the clear difference in colour between the movement which is (or was) polished brass and the case.

This clock (my clock) has intact gilding. I think is actually so unusual to see near perfect gilding that it has lead to the widespread and erroneous belief that clocks such as this (and carriage clocks) were polished brass. Perhaps this is true for the very, very cheapest of such clocks but all the rest were gilded. Unfortunately, the vast majority have deteriorated gilding now. Most of this damage has been caused by cleaning or polishing. Some clocks of course have been taken apart, polished (stripping remaining gilding) and lacquered over the course of their long lives but that is not their original finish. You can see this on the OP's clock. Where people have left it alone it has intact gilding. Where it has been fussed over the gilding is worn away. Pet rant over............by the way the other one is people saying porcelain when they mean enamel.......

IMG_5879.jpeg

Sometimes it can be difficult to appreciate that parts were gilded at all. Here are some parts from another French clock of mine (Vincenti). So little of the gilding remains that it takes a bit of detective work to work out that they were gilded. It can be found in areas that were protected. This clock was in a damp cellar for over 50 years.

IMG_1016.JPG IMG_1029.JPG IMG_1039.JPG IMG_1040.JPG IMG_1259.JPG
 
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turboflyer

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Thank you. Stunning . Guess I am really going to have to learn how to gild. It is a very soft elegant look. Have been researching books and supplies.
Also did you refinish the cherub? If so I am all ears.
 
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daveR

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The most interesting thing about yours Svenedin is that it does not have the high mirror finish so often seen on these clocks. Is that due to the process (which is what I believe) or that the underlying brassneeds to be brought to a high polish first?
 

svenedin

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Thank you. Stunning . Guess I am really going to have to learn how to gild. It is a very soft elegant look. Have been researching books and supplies.
Also did you refinish the cherub? If so I am all ears.
I did not refinish the cherub myself. I had it done professionally along with various other parts of that clock. I was quite surprised that this did not cost a fortune. I did all the prep work (cleaning etc) which is time consuming and adds to the cost.
 
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svenedin

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The most interesting thing about yours Svenedin is that it does not have the high mirror finish so often seen on these clocks. Is that due to the process (which is what I believe) or that the underlying brassneeds to be brought to a high polish first?
I think it is the process. The OP’s first picture shows a clock with what appears to be an identical finish to my clock. Electroplated gold can look cold and harsh but I believe it is what was used for most carriage clocks from the latter part of the 19th century onwards.That finish seems to work for small clocks but when they get as big as a four-glass it can be a bit overpowering. I do not know when they generally stopped fire gilding with mercury -there is someone in Germany who still does it because electroplating never looks quite the same and the gold layer is much thicker from fire gilding. I think also the gold plating can be either highly polished or not at the time of manufacture which means a soft look can be achieved. Lastly, there will be a lacquer layer or wax layer over the gold to protect it. This is not always clear but may have a yellowish tint. Maybe it ages over the decades to become slightly orange -I think it does but I don’t know for sure.
 
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daveR

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Thanks for that Svenedin, I had heard that there was someone in Germany doing fire gilding, but know nothing more . I like your explanation, it is an interesting explanation
David
 

svenedin

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Thanks for that Svenedin, I had heard that there was someone in Germany doing fire gilding, but know nothing more . I like your explanation, it is an interesting explanation
David
It is Mr Dirk Meyer: Dirk meyer‘s fire - gilding studio

And see his explanation of different colours and finishes here: Coulor of Fire-Gilding "Mat De Pendule" (clock matte) is the colour and finish of our 4 glasses.

Electroplating on the other hand gets even more complicated when you consider what the layers are underneath gold. This affects the look of the final finish. A complicated area of which I am no expert but I hope you can see why I get a bit agitated about this common idea to polish the cases and the mistaken thinking that they were polished brass. It is such a fuss and bother to put right if someone has casually removed all of the remaining gilding!!!
 
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svenedin

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As it is winding day (Sunday) I took the pendulum off to photograph the base of my clock. Here you can very clearly see the original untouched fire gilding and some makers marks. One photo taken with light from a torch, the others daylight.

I cannot quite make out the writing underneath the number. I'm assuming it's the gilder or finisher's name rather than the caster.
IMG_6649.jpeg IMG_6650.jpeg IMG_6651.jpeg IMG_6652.jpeg
 
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gmorse

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Hi Stephen,

Electro-gilding was beginning to take over from the mercury process from the 1840s, but a lot of the expertise in creating texture and colour was carried over I believe. There's an interesting article by Michael Edidin in the March 2021 AH on this subject.

Regards,

Graham
 

daveR

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Yes, itis a good gilding reference point as well.(A side issue, I wondered if those two IIX were meant to show the last repairer how to align the base, did he get them 180 deg out?)

And yes...... Sunday winding day, just done mine. It's 10pm
 
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svenedin

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Yes, itis a good gilding reference point as well. I wondered if those two IIX were meant to show the last repairer how to align the base, did he get them 180 deg out?

And yes...... Sunday winding day, just done mine. It's 10pm
Yes it’s to show the alignment. I rotated the base 180 degrees years ago as the back had better condition gilding than the front. I also swapped the doors over. My case is completely symmetrical
 

svenedin

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Hi Stephen,

Electro-gilding was beginning to take over from the mercury process from the 1840s, but a lot of the expertise in creating texture and colour was carried over I believe. There's an interesting article by Michael Edidin in the March 2021 AH on this subject.

Regards,

Graham
Yes and there’s no doubt a lot of things were electroplated from then on but not all. My grandfather used to “borrow” my grandmother’s wedding ring to do electroplating. Poor ring got thinner and thinner!
 

daveR

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And for turboflyer, who maybe thinks weve lost him ! , to answer one of your questions, the movements on these and French clocks generally, are usually highly polished. Sometimes (maybe only on carriageclocks) the back plate was also gilded, but the others can more accurately confirm or deny this.
David
 

turboflyer

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I been reading ever word. On my clock, not the beauty, some one must have polished the top plate. I like a dummy polished two of the vertical frames. Totally different look. I am going to try the fire gilding as soon as I can get the correct Mercury gold mix and prep. Looks pretty straight forward so far. Apply mercury base, then mercury gold amalgamation , use a propane torch and heat just enough to vaporize the mercury. I will practice on a spare parts case first. The gold leafing looks tedious and not as permanent as the fire method actually bond the gold to the sub metal, not glued on. But hey I think this whole thing is an adventure and definitely something new.
i survived playing with mercury as a kid, years of hands soaked in MEK and dizzy from the fumes in the military in the paraloft patching life rafts. I will take precautions as required. Any one with experience I appreciate cutting the learning curve.
A few pic after US cleaning, and my screw up polishing .

3FBB0738-D34D-4E11-AD31-CFAAC4A22EBB.jpeg 222334D3-20B0-4DF3-9244-FDDE69B48154.jpeg 1D62C83F-1522-4786-ACEC-DECB1BAE6D3B.jpeg
 

svenedin

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I been reading ever word. On my clock, not the beauty, some one must have polished the top plate. I like a dummy polished two of the vertical frames. Totally different look. I am going to try the fire gilding as soon as I can get the correct Mercury gold mix and prep. Looks pretty straight forward so far. Apply mercury base, then mercury gold amalgamation , use a propane torch and heat just enough to vaporize the mercury. I will practice on a spare parts case first. The gold leafing looks tedious and not as permanent as the fire method actually bond the gold to the sub metal, not glued on. But hey I think this whole thing is an adventure and definitely something new.
i survived playing with mercury as a kid, years of hands soaked in MEK and dizzy from the fumes in the military in the paraloft patching life rafts. I will take precautions as required. Any one with experience I appreciate cutting the learning curve.
A few pic after US cleaning, and my screw up polishing .

View attachment 648855 View attachment 648856 View attachment 648857
If the gold came off easily it suggests the layer was thin which makes it more likely it was originally electroplated. As Graham suggests, electroplating was used from around 1840 onwards and by around 1870 was very much the predominant process. I do wish that your mishap had not happened. This is how these clocks get wrecked. If they were only left alone there would be a lot more with decent intact gilding. I appreciate that someone had already damaged your case in the past. As to my own four-glass I do not let anybody touch it but me. It is never dusted. The cleaner is banned from going near any of my clocks. Dust is abrasive and "sharp" so I blow dust off if it is really necessary. Any more cleaning than that, a damp cloth is all that is needed. NEVER POLISH!!! Renaissance wax very occasionally is OK.

I would really not attempt to recreate the fire-gilding process. I doubt it is even legal to release mercury vapour into the atmosphere assuming you can keep yourself safe. Mercury is extremely toxic and a cumulative poison (meaning the body finds it very hard to get rid of and it builds up). It acts on the nervous system (amongst others) and gave rise to the phrase "mad as a hatter". Hatters used mercuric nitrate to make felt. Erethism - Wikipedia

The best result you will get is by having it professionally electroplated and lacquered. It will look amazing then.
 
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turboflyer

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Have decide the electro plating will serve a wider range of uses. Will definitely have to do some experimenting. To get that soft not shinny gold look I am thinking the brass will have to prepped with possibly 800 too 1200 paper. Not sure. Getting supplies together.
Also upon dissemble found an interesting signature.
Not able to determine yet if this particular piece used the L bricks like the one pictured anchored from the pillars to the bezel. Book is not getting here fast enough. Any advise welcome for sure.

F9554B7D-90A6-4542-B459-6154FEDB7C74.jpeg 3BFAD3C6-40A6-48BA-94BB-D0EA3342772D.jpeg
 

turboflyer

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Update. Decided to delve into the gold electro plating so I can be around a few more years to bug everyone. Was able to get all but one screw out of the glass frames and had to drill it out. Now faced with trying to find or make what looks like a 2.5x .45mm screw. Why the put steel screws in and brass hole I do not know. They were rusted in good. Plus the 100+ Years had to help.

A lot of the gold plating cleaned well, but seem someone decided to polish or it was just to thin. So new adventure.
Since I am new at this electro plating does the old plate have to come off or wii it accept new plating?

CF42D22C-F288-4CBE-BE8C-0178E53CAC48.jpeg
 

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