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Dating A Brass Dial Long Case Clock

macaw

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DSCN4146.jpg DSCN4147.jpg DSCN4149.jpg DSCN4150.jpg DSCN4151.jpg I spent the day straightening out pendulums and weights in 3 brass dial clocks and 1 painted. I got them all working and came up with an extra pendulum. Anyway, this one I liked and to me appears to be complete and original except for a replacement seat board and missing finials. I need advice on if it is original and its age. Mark Hawkins senior or junior, and why a seat board would have needed to be replaced. As I uploaded the pics I realized I didn't take one of it together. I already know he's going to want much more than its worth when he tries to sell it, and I'm looking for a reason to pass on it besides the price.
 

Jeremy Woodoff

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Mark Hawkins of Bury St. Edmonds is listed in Baillie as "early 18th century." However, based on the style of the dial I would put this clock at 1750-70. A replaced seat board could mean a switched movement. Can't tell without additional information. Does the dial fit the case opening exactly? Does the case style fit the age of the clock, ca. 1750?
 

novicetimekeeper

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Mark Hawkins of Bury St. Edmonds is listed in Baillie as "early 18th century." However, based on the style of the dial I would put this clock at 1750-70. A replaced seat board could mean a switched movement. Can't tell without additional information. Does the dial fit the case opening exactly? Does the case style fit the age of the clock, ca. 1750?
I agree with the date based on the rococco spandrels and the style of the chapter ring. The movement appears to have ringed and knopped pillars which would usually suggest earlier but may just be a quirk by the maker.

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Just noticed it says St Edmund Bury which made me chuckle. When local Government was reformed here a number of authorities were joined together and new names had to be found for unitary authorities replacing names that went back centuries. Bury St Edmunds is a town now in an area known as St Edmundsbury, which just goes to show nothing is ever actually new!
 
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jmclaugh

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The Loomes entries are; Mark Hawkins(I) bc 1674 from Newmarket to Bury St. Edmunds where married 1701 died 1750. Mark Hawkins(II) 'At the Seven Stars & Dial' later 'At the Crown % Dial' in Cook Row at the corner of Hatter Street Bury St Edmunds. b 1707 married 1745 died 1767. There was also a second elder son William, corner of Whiting Street & Church Gate Street Bury St. Edmunds born 1703 whom it is believed succeeded Mark(I) c 1740, insolvent 1747 after which he may have worked for Mark(II).

The dial and arch spandrel patterns are often paired and are said to have been much used 1760-85 dial and the rest of the dial fits with that sort of period. The pillars are the early type dated to 1660 to 1740 but that doesn't mean they stopped being used in 1740. Based on that the clock is by Mark(II).

Hard to say why the seatboard may have been replaced but some pictures of the case may help in comparing it to the dial in terms of period.
 

novicetimekeeper

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The Loomes entries are; Mark Hawkins(I) bc 1674 from Newmarket to Bury St. Edmunds where married 1701 died 1750. Mark Hawkins(II) 'At the Seven Stars & Dial' later 'At the Crown % Dial' in Cook Row at the corner of Hatter Street Bury St Edmunds. b 1707 married 1745 died 1767. There was also a second elder son William, corner of Whiting Street & Church Gate Street Bury St. Edmunds born 1703 whom it is believed succeeded Mark(I) c 1740, insolvent 1747 after which he may have worked for Mark(II).


The dial and arch spandrel patterns are often paired and are said to have been much used 1760-85 dial and the rest of the dial fits with that sort of period. The pillars are the early type dated to 1660 to 1740 but that doesn't mean they stopped being used in 1740. Based on that the clock is by Mark(II).

Hard to say why the seatboard may have been replaced but some pictures of the case may help in comparing it to the dial in terms of period.
Were ringed pillars used so early? I always assumed they followed on from finned do you think they ran concurrently for so long?

I've seen clocks where the rings on the movement matched rings turned on the dial feet. Some makers just loved a bit of decoration and it really helps with matching dials to movements.

Seatboards are a bit prone to failure, they take a lot of weight, particularly with 8 day clocks and they get bits cut out which can't help, I agree there are plenty of reasons to change them. It can sometimes explain changes to the cheeks of the carcase too as new seatboards may not be the same thickness as the old ones.

Pics of the case and hood will help form opinions. I haven't seen anything that screams marriage for dial and movement, we all seem to be going in the right direction so far. The most obvious is additional holes in the front of the movement to accommodate dial feet. We haven't seen that view yet.
 
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macaw

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I'll be going back next Saturday and will take pics of the entire case. The dial seems to fit the movement exactly, but more knowledgeable opinions than mine help a lot.
 

novicetimekeeper

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I'll be going back next Saturday and will take pics of the entire case. The dial seems to fit the movement exactly, but more knowledgeable opinions than mine help a lot.
From what you have shown of the case so far you have a mark made by the pendulum that matches the current pendulum, that's a good start. The backboard is very red has it been painted? The bottom ledge of the door frame doesn't show any marks of rubbing by the weights so no clues there. Brass cased lead weights are not what I'd expect on a later clock like this. I would expect just lead.

The hinges on the door look like the standard replacement and the shape of the door edge looks good for the period. The flash doesn't make the finish look great but that might just be the flash.

If you get the chance pics of the cheeks where the seatboard rests, the back of the case, the hood in and out, and the pediment.
 

macaw

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The red in the back of the case is from the flash, it's the same finish as the rest of the clock. I have no clue how that happened. When did they change to all lead? And is the lead incased in iron? (2 of the others have weights that look like iron and they look pretty much alike) The door is now a bit warped so it doesn't close, which I'm pretty sure is from the way he stored it, and the others. The same thing happened with 2 of the others, one of which I new well 40 years ago, and it wasn't warped then. (That really gives my age) The top of the pendulum suspension spring has a small piece that's loose so the pendulum can move freely in all directions, and it fits perfectly in the sort of cup shaped indentation on the piece on top of the movement that holds the pendulum out. (I'm not up on terminology at all).
 

novicetimekeeper

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The red in the back of the case is from the flash, it's the same finish as the rest of the clock. I have no clue how that happened. When did they change to all lead? And is the lead incased in iron? (2 of the others have weights that look like iron and they look pretty much alike) The door is now a bit warped so it doesn't close, which I'm pretty sure is from the way he stored it, and the others. The same thing happened with 2 of the others, one of which I new well 40 years ago, and it wasn't warped then. (That really gives my age) The top of the pendulum suspension spring has a small piece that's loose so the pendulum can move freely in all directions, and it fits perfectly in the sort of cup shaped indentation on the piece on top of the movement that holds the pendulum out. (I'm not up on terminology at all).
There is nothing fixed in dates with these clocks, fashions start in London and work their way out. The further you get from London the longer it may take to change but sometimes somebody works in London then returns home so styles may take a jump. We can give opinions, which don't always agree, but we will be around plus or minus 10 years at the most usually.Clocks nearer London perhaps within 5 years.

Brass cased weights were used in London into the 18th century, I've seen them on provincial clocks from the first quarter. (they don't usually look as neat and tidy as yours) Cast iron weights came in at the end of the 18th century and are used ion painted dial clocks. I've seen it said that there were never cast iron weights on brass dial clocks but I'm not convinced anybody can have such certainty, but all of my clocks have lead weights. Weights get changed, particularly in auction houses and dealers where there are a lot of clocks dismantled for moving.

Doors mainly warp from central heating, these things were made when houses were drafty and damp.

18th C Longcase are usually waxed or on the outside and unfinished on the inside. (That's unless they are a laquered finish of course with painted and gilded decoration) The wood can look amazingly fresh after a couple of hundred years protected from the light and wear.
 

macaw

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DSCN4161.jpg DSCN4163.jpg DSCN4165.jpg DSCN4168.jpg DSCN4166.jpg DSCN4167.jpg DSCN4170.jpg DSCN4182.jpg So- inside the cabinet is a different color, it doesn't seem to be paint, if it is, it's flat. The top slides nicely into place against the top of the back, which extends above the top as shown in the last picture. Original? The missing pieces on the sides are in the cabinet.
 

macaw

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DSCN4169.jpg DSCN4171.jpg DSCN4172.jpg The top is missing the finials, the brown stuff is masking tape. I couldn't see any extra holes from mounting a previous dial in the front plate, I got the best shots I could without taking the dial off.
 

novicetimekeeper

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Pics of the cheeks where the seatboard rests would be useful, as that is where there can be more obvious signs of modification but nothing so far shouts problem. Certainly the paint inside the case isn't original and may be to cover something up. Do you have a pic of the back?
 

macaw

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I figured I miss something in my picture taking. Does the back extending above the top of the hood tell anything? Or is it normal on some of them? What should I look for in the cheeks? Anything else I should look closely at? I'm afraid the next time I see it, will be decision time.
 

novicetimekeeper

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I figured I miss something in my picture taking. Does the back extending above the top of the hood tell anything? Or is it normal on some of them? What should I look for in the cheeks? Anything else I should look closely at? I'm afraid the next time I see it, will be decision time.

The hood looks like it may have been altered with the flat top behind the arch, the back may line up with the original design of the hood.
 

novicetimekeeper

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Looking at the hood again, does it not have an opening door? The capitals to the pillars look odd as in not matched. One appears to be out of place. I wonder if the hood was dropped at some time and has had a lot of repairs.
 

macaw

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The door does open, although the hinged side doesn't seem to be attached at the bottom. I should have look closer to see the problem when I was there.
 

novicetimekeeper

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The door does open, although the hinged side doesn't seem to be attached at the bottom. I should have look closer to see the problem when I was there.
It should have a pin hinge, the pins stick up out of the pillars and extend into the hood.
 

gmorse

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Hi Mark,

That red finish inside looks like red lead paint, which was used inside a lot of old furniture that I've come across, especially chests of drawers and wardrobes dating from the 19th century. Whether this suggests that the case is later is another matter; it could have been painted at any time.

Regards,

Graham
 

novicetimekeeper

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Hi Mark,

That red finish inside looks like red lead paint, which was used inside a lot of old furniture that I've come across, especially chests of drawers and wardrobes dating from the 19th century. Whether this suggests that the case is later is another matter; it could have been painted at any time.

Regards,

Graham
What wood do you think that case is Graham? I think 1760s is about when Mahogany was entering the longcase market, it was later in longcase than other furniture and was initially used as trim and then veneer on oak
 

gmorse

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Hi Nick & Mark,

The inside of the hood and the top mouldings look like pine, and that top section at the back certainly seems to have been altered. It's hard to say what the rest of the case is under all that old finish, but mahogany is most likely I think. There are so many variants of mahogany.

The red lead paint was used inside pine carcases which were veneered on the outside. I don't know if this was done to try and disguise the fact that they weren't solid.

Regards,

Graham
 

macaw

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Hi Graham & Nick,
If I had to guess as far as the hinge, I'd guess pin hinge that has come out of the bottom so it doesn't stay (at the bottom). Any percentage guess as far as originality, or if I should run from it? What do I still need to look more closely at before I make my final decision on the clock? If I remember correctly Mark Hawkins 2 died around 1750, feel free to correct me!
 

novicetimekeeper

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Hi Graham & Nick,
If I had to guess as far as the hinge, I'd guess pin hinge that has come out of the bottom so it doesn't stay (at the bottom). Any percentage guess as far as originality, or if I should run from it? What do I still need to look more closely at before I make my final decision on the clock? If I remember correctly Mark Hawkins 2 died around 1750, feel free to correct me!
Jonathan says Mark II died 1767, assuming he made clocks up until or nearly until his death then a mahogany case is much more possible. I don't know much about East Anglian clock and case styles but I do think it probably had an arch to the hood originally which has been replaced by a flat top leaving the backboard sticking up in the air. I've never owned an arch top, I prefer flat tops, but I seem to recall the backboards ending square and the arch part of the back being part of the hood. I'm sure both are possible, I think Smike's round dial clock has an arched backboard. However if the backboard is original this seems the most likely explanation.

Only you can decide, it is very hard to make these sort of decisions from photographs at the best of times and you have not given us enough of them for a complete review. You can get this sort of thing done professionally, Brian Loomes still does it I think for £50 a clock but he would want more photographs.

In the end you have to be happy with the clock and what you pay for it, you are the one who is going to live with it. I have originals in their cases, marriages and movements without cases. I paid different prices for each. I'm very happy with my collection.

One thing to be aware of is that the price of longcase clocks is still falling and not every dealer has adjusted to the new reality. I've seen the same clocks for sale for years, some I regard as old friends.
 
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macaw

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This dealer is definitely one who hasn't adjusted to the new reality, and I'll most likely wait until he has no choice but to sell it at whatever price he can get. All I can hope for is if I do buy it, I don't find out it's been so altered that it's not worth the wood it's made from.
 

novicetimekeeper

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Thanks Ralph, this is a very good article!
It's a starting point, but I think it is a shame he picked such an obvious marriage as an example. There is a lot more information in the books he uses as references.

He also seems to miss the nuances in English clockmaking, apparently unaware of the regional variations. It isn't just about London and the provinces, there are separate characters built up in each area of the UK that are evident throughout the 18th century. A lot of those are lost by the 19th century as clockmaking becomes more centralised.

It was this centralisation that brought the price down and made longcase clocks available to a much wider market, it is when most British longcase clocks were made though by far fewer makers, so you often find generalisations made by people whose main experience is of these later clocks.

He is quite right, though, when he says that the name on the dial isn't the first place to start dating a clock or deciding who made it!
 

macaw

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DSCN4257.jpg DSCN4259.jpg DSCN4272.jpg DSCN4268.jpg DSCN4269.jpg DSCN4263.jpg DSCN4267.jpg I took more pics to get as much info as I can. The change in decor is due to its joining the B. Gaunt in my home. I got it for the $1200.00 I had decided I'd pay. Probably paid too much but I like the clock. Any info from these pics would be great.
 

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