Early Steeple Clocks ?

Ontime

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When were they introduced, and what are the most notable characteristics of the early steeple clocks - case design and movement types.
 

R. Croswell

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When were they introduced, and what are the most notable characteristics of the early steeple clocks - case design and movement types.
Not sure about the absolute limits but I believe the American ones became popular mid 1800s after wooden works movements gave way to brass. The early ones ran one day and had brass springs. Steeple clocks characteristally have, well, two or more steeples. Lots of different variations.

RC
 

Jeremy Woodoff

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Early steeple clocks are also found with ripple moldings on the cases, and, in double-steeple cases, with movements powered by "wagon springs" (aka "lever springs"). I think the earliest steeples more commonly had simple cone-shaped finials, with the later standard being the more ornately turned variety.
 

Ontime

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These are the details I was curious about - the 'wagon spring movements' and cone finials. I assume the steeple form was first seen, circa 1845.
Early steeple clocks are also found with ripple moldings on the cases, and, in double-steeple cases, with movements powered by "wagon springs" (aka "lever springs"). I think the earliest steeples more commonly had simple cone-shaped finials, with the later standard being the more ornately turned variety.
 

Jeremy Woodoff

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I have a Brewster and Ingraham's 30-hour, brass-spring steeple, which must be one of the earliest ones. However, it has the fancy steeples. I don't know whether they were replaced long ago or whether this style finial was available early on, even if not common.

I think 1845 is generally considered the beginning of this style.
 

R. Croswell

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I have a Brewster and Ingraham's 30-hour, brass-spring steeple, which must be one of the earliest ones. However, it has the fancy steeples. I don't know whether they were replaced long ago or whether this style finial was available early on, even if not common.

I think 1845 is generally considered the beginning of this style.
I had a Terry and Andrews in for service a few years ago. It was a 1-day clock and it had brass springs and the sharp pointed steeples. The sharp points are easily broken so it seems entirely possible and reasonable that during the past 170 years that some steeple clocks would have had their broken steeples replaced. It would also seem reasonable that clockmakers soon realized that this style was very fragile and opted for something different. I have no idea when the earliest example of each style was.

RC
 

Jim DuBois

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Per Ken Roberts the "round Gothic case" that we usually call a beehive, was introduced in 1841. By 1843 Charles Kirk had introduced his patent number 3233 clock in a "sharp Gothic case" that today we call a steeple clock. By 1846 steeple on steeple clocks with wagon springs were being offered by at least 2 firms, as well as candle stick steeple on steeple versions. They were quickly made available in both 30 hr and 8 day versions, and a very few were offered later in 30 day versions (1847+/-) Very soon the wagon spring models were replaced by fusee models as they were a bit cheaper to produce and now equipped with American made coiled springs, they were the latest thing. I am of the opinion that the only thing driving the market was profit, not mechanical efficiency, or timekeeping accuracy, or even customer input, other than input from folks opening their pocketbooks....or offering other commodities in trade.
 

Steven Thornberry

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There is an interesting but undocumented (and possibly apocryphal) story (mentioned by Roberts in his Contributions of Joseph Ives, that Elias Ingraham designed the sharp gothic case, whittling it out on a return voyage from Venezuela where he had gone following his 1840 bankruptcy. A bit horologically romantic, I suppose, but I also suppose that Ingraham, who was an early major figure in designing and manufacturing clock cases, may have played a role in the development of the sharp gothic.

That aside, an interesting place to start looking at the development of early steeple clocks is Joyce Wahler's article in the June 1986 NAWCC Bulletin, pp. 195 ff.
 

Ontime

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There is an interesting but undocumented (and possibly apocryphal) story (mentioned by Roberts in his Contributions of Joseph Ives, that Elias Ingraham designed the sharp gothic case, whittling it out on a return voyage from Venezuela where he had gone following his 1840 bankruptcy. A bit horologically romantic, I suppose, but I also suppose that Ingraham, who was an early major figure in designing and manufacturing clock cases, may have played a role in the development of the sharp gothic.

That aside, an interesting place to start looking at the development of early steeple clocks is Joyce Wahler's article in the June 1986 NAWCC Bulletin, pp. 195 ff.
Informative article - thank you
 

Jim DuBois

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Steven, appreciate the link to the 1986 piece, I have not looked at that one in a very long time. Good to review it. There is at least one earlier version of the round Gothic case, and the would be the the one with the Joseph Ives label, having basically a very similar rack and snail strike 8 day like the Brewster and Ingram model, but with a stamped brass backplate and two very large fusees in the base of the clock driven by some rather robust brass springs. This clock can be seen in Supplement 9, A Survey History of the American Spring-driven Clock 1840-1860 pages 14 and 15. They are very rare, but not quite as rare as Dr. Shaffer thought in 1973 when he wrote the supplement.

And here is a round Gothic in a very tall case. There are 3 or 4 of these out and about. One of them I have photos of has an original weight driven movement in it using 2 weights, time only, and it runs 60 days. I have photos of it someplace. It is about 48" tall and a bit later than these were are discussing in this thread.
 

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Steven Thornberry

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Thanks for mentioning the supplement by Dr. Shaffer, Jim. Just FTR, this is one of the supplements that are available on line. Here is a link (I hope it works).
 

Jim DuBois

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Thanks for mentioning the supplement by Dr. Shaffer, Jim. Just FTR, this is one of the supplements that are available on line. Here is a link (I hope it works).[/QUOTE

Yeah, I wish all the supplements were on line. I didn't link to it as I was thinking that non NAWCC members who read this thread can't access that part of the library? Is that correct, or not? I still personally prefer paper copies but recognize the value of on line resources, more and more. Much easier to find, and much easier to search.
 

harold bain

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Jim, Columbia is getting some new website software that "might" be more easily navigated. It is just one more reason to join, to access what is on line. The reason some are not on line has to do with permissions and copyrights.
 

Jim DuBois

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Jim, Columbia is getting some new website software that "might" be more easily navigated. It is just one more reason to join, to access what is on line. The reason some are not on line has to do with permissions and copyrights.
It is completely beyond my comprehension why people with a serious interest in clocks and or watches avoid joining up. I am a 40+ year member and I owe much if not all my knowledge to either the NAWCC or the people I have met because of the NAWCC. The resources available are beyond the pale. However, many are greatly underutilized I fear.
 
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