English Brass Lantern Clock Ca. 1710 - John Smorthwait, Colchester

Discussion in 'Your Newest Clock Acquisition' started by rstl99, May 15, 2019.

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  1. rstl99

    rstl99 Registered User
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    I very recently purchased an English Brass Lantern Clock signed "Smorthwait in Colchester". The clock was initially discussed in this following thread, which I will no longer add to:

    Brass lantern clock early 1700's - worth it?

    The clockmaker is John Smorthwait(e) 1675-1739. He is very well described in Bernard Mason's wonderful book "Clock and Watchmaking in Colchester" (Country Life Books 1969). In one of his insightful articles, Brian Loomes also elucidated some previously unknown, and very interesting, facts about Smorthwait's origins, and what he did before arriving in Colchester in around 1706-07 (according to Mason), a widow with a young daughter, and fully trained watch/clockmaker.

    Smorthwait was a successful clockmaker and rather prolific. Mason, a serious collector of clocks and watches made in Colchester, knew of 16 Smorthwait brass lantern clocks still existing, in 1969. In Loomes' article (link below), he writes:

    Three more lantern clocks have gone through auction in recent years, plus the present one illustrated here. This makes a total of twenty-one known, two of them converted to spring drive later, four of them signed in the dial centre, six signed on the chapter ring. He usually spelled his name as Smorthwait without the final e, but a flourish on the t is sometimes mistaken for an e. The surname is more generally written as Smorthwaite. All his lantern clocks appear to have been made originally with anchor escapement and long pendulum.

    Collecting Antique Clocks: John Smorthwaite of Colchester and elsewhere

    So unless mine is one of the two that Loomes was aware as having been converted to spring drive, it would make the total 22.

    I attach a few photos taken from the ad, and will post more photos of some of the details of this clock when it arrives in a couple of weeks. I'll use this thread to solicit insights and advice about issues I will likely come across during my gentle "restoration" of my first lantern clock.

    I'll look forward to any information you would like to share on Smorthwait and this clock in particular.

    Best regards,
    --Robert

    smort1.jpg smort2.jpg smort3.jpg smort4.jpg smort7.jpg
     
  2. rstl99

    rstl99 Registered User
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    #2 rstl99, May 15, 2019
    Last edited: May 15, 2019
    I was able to find a photo of John Smorthwait's gravestone in All Saints' churchyard in Colchester. According to Mason, "the inscription on this stone was re-cut at the request and at the cost of the late Harold Smorthwait in 1923". Harold, a direct descendant of John's brother William, had collaborated with Mason in documenting the details of Smorthwait's family life.

    The stone reads:
    Here lyeth the body of John Smorthwait of this town
    Clock-maker who died Jan.ry 4th: 1738/9
    Aged 63 years

    The photo (thanks to "Carol") is publicly viewable on flickr:
    John Smorthwait IMG_8257

    smorthwait-grave.jpg
     
  3. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    Great to know where a maker is buried right down to the plot. I know one of mine is in Sherborne Abbey but never found him.
     
  4. NigelW

    NigelW Registered User

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    As a fourth generation Colcestrian, albeit one who no longer lives there, I have always hankered after a clock from the town of my birth - a Smorthwaite or a Nathanial Hedge would be very nice! Yours has a very handsome dial but, as was discussed in the previous thread, the movement appears to be much later.

    Mason not only left his large collection of clocks to the town but also a very handsome timber framed medieval town house to display them in. The town council however has closed the museum and leased it out as a tea room. A small selection of his clocks is now displayed in the Hollytrees museum next to the castle. The remainder of the collection - the vast majority - is presumably gathering dust in a warehouse somewhere, unseen and unloved. Such was Mason's zeal in adding to his collection it was said that some unscrupulous clock dealers changed the names on their clocks to Colchester makers to elicit his interest, but I rather doubt the veracity of these claims as Mason was clearly highly knowledgeable.
     
  5. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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  6. rstl99

    rstl99 Registered User
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    Hi Nigel,
    Glad to meet a "Colcestrian" (I would never have known how to call Colchester residents!!).
    I was vacationing in London a few weeks ago, and had a thought to take a train to Colchester to have a look around, but came down with a bit of a cold, so stayed in the city. Hopefully in a few years when we go back and explore the English countryside (saw enough of London in our previous two trips!), we'll make a little trip to Colchester.

    Yes, I had read about Mason's house-museum being closed down, and some of the pieces moved to the Hollytrees museum. I'm sure it's a big challenge for financially challenged councils to do justice to such collections. Even in London, the Guildhall collection (that was moved to the Science Museum a few years ago) is an outstanding collection, that I visited twice during our stay (and got to chat with its new curator), but the reality is that only a very small percentage of the visitors to that museum (largely children and their parents) would venture onto that part of the building, and would soon exit after having briefly looked at the displays of beautiful and historically significant clocks, watches, and makers. I was in seventh heaven taking in all the wonderful exhibits, but the average visitor to that museum is probably not that interested, sadly, given the other attractions in the building (dinosaurs, etc.). Same probably goes for small town museums like Mason's in Colchester...

    Well, maybe eventually some of those museums will be forced to sell off some of their holdings, and loving collectors and enthusiasts will get an opportunity to acquire and care for some of those survivors from a bygone era. And the cycle continues...

    I had hoped to pick up something interesting while in London, but the visit to Portobello was not all that fruitful (some very expensive dealers there!), but I met some nice older gentlemen who restore watches or clocks. I bought a pair of relatively affordable silver-cased watches (one English, one French) from a most interesting gentleman who entertained me with watch collection stories. He lamented the fact that average "watch collectors" today are much more interested in Rolex and Omega wristwatches of the 1950s and 1960s, then in the amazing older pocket watches.

    Indeed, Nick may be able to point you to a nice Colchester tall case clock. It would be unthinkable for me to buy and have one of those shipped across the ocean. I know some people do it, but I'm not that brave.

    Good luck in your search for a nice Colchester clock!
    --Robert
     
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  7. rstl99

    rstl99 Registered User
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    Speaking of Bernard Mason's collection and their original location at Tymperleys Clock Museum (now sadly converted to a tea room as Nigel informed us), I just received the postcard below, which shows some of the Colchester-made lantern clocks once exposed there. I had picked it up on eBay a few weeks ago, after my return from the UK, I suppose to remind me to return and do a little pilgrimage of sorts to Colchester some day. And I thought at the time that maybe the closest I would get to own such a clock would be on a photo.

    Kind of serendipitous for the Smorthwait clock to pop up for me last week, and to now be following the postcard toward my house.

    IMG_0245.jpg
     
  8. rstl99

    rstl99 Registered User
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    I love how Brian Loomes closes his article on Smorthwait (link above):

    We clock enthusiasts tend to become bogged down in the details of the clocks, their style age, fine engraving, unusual escapements. We tend to forget that the maker was not a clock-making machine, but a real person often with far more of a burden in the form of the stresses and worries of life than we experience ourselves. Interesting as they are, [Smorthwait's] clocks reveal no signs of his incredibly harrowing childhood and background and the tragedy which seemed to follow him through life.

    During the relatively brief period that I've been acquiring and becoming familiar with a few timepieces (mostly old pocket watches and movements from England and France), my research into the maker's history, his life and times, is probably what I've found most interesting. These surviving objects are like a little time machine allowing us to travel back to bygone times, and imagine ourselves in the shops of the long-forgotten craftsmen who made them, and in the houses of those whose lives were marked by their ticking.
     
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  9. rstl99

    rstl99 Registered User
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    My clock is in-country and should arrive this week -- so I'll have more photos and details of it to share then, for those who might be interested.

    In the meantime I'm doing a bit of comparative searching, and found another Smorthwait clock (that sold at auction in 2015) -- lot 186 Dreweatts Sept 15, 2015. The description from the sale is as follows:

    A Queen Anne brass lantern clock John Smorthwait, Colchester, early 18th century The posted countwheel bell-striking movement with anchor escapement regulated by seconds pendulum swinging outside of the frame clock to the rear, the dial engraved with an asymmetric stylised leafy spray beneath signature Smorthwait In Colchester to upper margin, with iron hand within applied Roman numeral chapter ring with stylised fleur-de-lys half hour markers, the frame with column turned corner posts beneath foliate pierced and engraved front fret, vase turned finials and domed bell bearer, on turned ball feet, 40.5cm (16ins) high. Provenance: From the estate of an esteemed antiquarian horologist. Literature: The current lot is extensively illustrated and described in Darken, Jeff (editor) TIME & PLACE, English Country Clocks 1600-1840 as exhibit 29 pages 104-7.

    That clock has a very similar signature to mine, as well as a similar hour hand, so they are likely quite close in age. This one has a silver (?) chapter ring whereas mine is brass. Like most clock makers of that period, no two clocks of Smorthwait appear to be aesthetically exactly alike. I suppose that's one thing that makes those old clocks so interesting, the fact they are all unique in many ways.

    two-smorthwait-clocks.jpg
     
  10. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    Both chapter rings would have been silvered originally. Yours has just lost the silvering through being over cleaned.
     
  11. rstl99

    rstl99 Registered User
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    Interesting, I did not know that! Thanks, this clock will prove a great learning experience for me. Cheers.
     
  12. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    I scan the auction listings every day, so I have sent a PM to Nigel.
     
  13. NigelW

    NigelW Registered User

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    #13 NigelW, May 20, 2019 at 3:55 AM
    Last edited: May 20, 2019 at 4:10 AM
    I bought my lantern clock, unrestored, from Brian Loomes. I went to see him at his home in Yorkshire where he had twenty or more lanterns - most of which he seems now to have disposed of in two recent sales at Bonham's. He told me that he tended to silver the chapter rings if they were London made but not if they were provincial. Mine, made by Thomas Swinnerton of Newcastle under Lyme in Staffordshire (the brother of a direct ancestor, John, also a clockmaker), dates from around 1680 and was converted from balance wheel to anchor, possibly in the 18th or 19th C. I have got it back into working order but I have yet to complete its bracket. I have decided not to resilver.
     
  14. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    He always was a conundrum :)

    It's difficult with 17th century stuff, are you a museum or a collector? That seems to be where the distinction start. Museums would leave it as they found it usually, apart from stabilising and degradation. If the engraving was very shallow I would not resilver, but if there was a ressonable depth relivering would always be my choice.

    In the case of this one, where the movement is gone, I think resilvering would enhance the clock. It's an unusual chapter ring, is there any evidence it has been changed?
     
  15. NigelW

    NigelW Registered User

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    I posted about this lantern about four years ago:

    Lantern clock made by the brother of my ancestor

    Although the going train had been replaced the striking train and overall structure appears to be original. The frets and sides are replacements and there was no pendulum. The bell looks old but I am not sure about the bell straps and finial. A previous owner had started to restore it, for example by making a new single hand, fitting new frets etc but the motion work was still for a two hander and a surprisingly long pendulum (at least 1 1/4 second). I replaced the two-hand motion work with once closer to what it might originally have had, with a ratch to initiate the strike and ratios to allow a seconds pendulum, which I also made. I tried putting new wax into the chapter ring engraving but didn't do a great job. I now realise where I went wrong - the ring is convex and I should have made a matching concave piece, rotating about the centre, to hold the abrasive paper when flattening the wax. I have decided to leave well alone now, at least for the immediate future.
     
  16. rstl99

    rstl99 Registered User
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    Nice hearing the story of the acquisition of your ancestor's clock, Nigel. Must have been a nice experience to meet Brian, whose 21st century book is never far from my reach, and whose writings on his website have always interested me. Interesting his approach to re-silvering, which is a bridge I'll have to cross with mine at some point...

    Interesting to hear the opinions on resilvering. I can see that I'll have some interesting decisions to make about my Smorthwait clock. I don't have it yet (supposed to be delivered tomorrow), so can't answer about the chapter ring, but hopefully that will all be clarified once I start sharing more pictures and details about it on this thread.

    Thanks for sharing information and details about your clock Nigel. You bring up another topic (waxing the chapter ring) that I'll need to think about, among many other things about this clock, going forward. This should be a fun (and for me, educational) project! Cheers.
    --Robert
     
  17. rstl99

    rstl99 Registered User
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    #17 rstl99, May 21, 2019 at 4:12 PM
    Last edited: May 21, 2019 at 4:32 PM
    Old Smorthwait has arrived to its new home in Canada. I like it. A few initial photos follow for your interest.

    Movement is German, Lenzkirch, which I gather was good quality. Serial number (1,259,156) indicates it was made around 1900, so that was probably when the clock was converted to springs. Movement ticks nicely with the balance off (broken suspension spring). Pivot holes look dirty but ok, so I expect the movement will be just fine after a good cleaning and service. Will need to sort out the chiming mechanism.

    The brass clock looks fine and solid, dirty in places. Possibly the broken suspension spring relegated it to the shed or attic, many decades ago, until some "antique hunter" dug it out and put it up at auction.

    Anyway, it's found a good home, and I look forward to inspecting it more closely and eventually taking the movement out for service, and giving the whole clock a good cleaning and polishing that it deserves.
    --Robert

    IMG_0248.jpg IMG_0251.jpg IMG_0253.jpg IMG_0257.jpg IMG_0259.JPG IMG_0260.jpg IMG_0261.jpg IMG_0268.jpg IMG_0269.jpg IMG_0277.jpg IMG_0278.jpg
     
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  18. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    I don't get the bell within a bell, does the hammer hit the little one?

    Will be more interesting if you can get the cover plate off the top, and to see the back of the chapter ring. Looking good so far though.
     
  19. rstl99

    rstl99 Registered User
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    The hammer's not doing its job right now, but it would want to hit the big bell (which has a very nice sound). Not sure about the little one. Need to read up on these clocks...
    Yes, there is some good exploration to do on this venerable old clock.
     
  20. rstl99

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    As in: the original top plate will reveal how the clock was originally configured?
    And: what can one expect to see at the back of a chapter ring?
     
  21. zedric

    zedric Registered User

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    There is a small, blurry, black and white photo of a Smorthwaite lantern clock that I just saw yesterday in the book "The Lyle Antiques and Their Values: Identification and Price Guide: Clocks and Watches". I assume that this one went to auction in 1987, given the book dates from '88, so would probably be counted in the "known" list of Smorthwaite clocks.
     
  22. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    Yes the top will give us more knowledge about the original movement, and the chapter ring should be able to confirm its originality.
     
  23. NigelW

    NigelW Registered User

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    #23 NigelW, May 22, 2019 at 3:31 AM
    Last edited: May 22, 2019 at 3:58 AM
    Lovely looking clock. The only thing that jars a little for me is the way the front fret relates to the chapter ring. Sometimes chapter rings in lanterns seem to be flattened off a fraction at the top where they meet the top/fret, but I would not expect the fret the cover part of the XII. I would be tempted to slip a washer or two between the fret and the top to raise it up a little.
     
  24. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    I have a small doubt about the chapter ring. The fret is already raised up as it sits on the plate covering the top plate though that seems quite thin.
     
  25. NigelW

    NigelW Registered User

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    The chapter rings in all four Smorthwaites illustrated on p 67 of Mason overlap the top plate to some extent. The two on the right also overlap the frets but is not clear if the fret is tucked behind the ring or cut away so as not to obscure it.

    20190522_091305.jpg
     
  26. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    This chapter ring has different half hour markers again. Did he never make two the same or is it just so many are missing?
     
  27. NigelW

    NigelW Registered User

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    One thing I have learned since starting to restore old clocks is that finding one that is in a completely original state is very rare, and possibly even impossible to know for certain. My tutor is very helpful in this respect - he is more an antiquarian than an active restorer. He has looked after some seriously old and interesting clocks and has a good nose for things which aren't quite right. I have also learned to relax a bit - why should it matter if some bits have been replaced or altered as fashions change and technology improves, so long as it has been done honestly? The problem with us today is that mechanical clocks are no longer utilitarian objects which above all have to keep time, but curiosities.
     
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  28. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    There are limits, and the older the clock the more relaxed those need to be.

    I'm bidding on a clock today with most of the wheels replaced, or at least re colleted, I have a particular interest in this clock and it is an orphan without a case, weights, or pendulum. I think you hsave to be aware of what has been done as much as you can and bid accordingly.

    Here the interest was in the signature, and sometimes that outweighs the other considerations.

    Also some, like me, can only really afford the wrecks, and some of the fun is getting them back in some semblance of order.
     
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  29. rstl99

    rstl99 Registered User
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    Hi Zedric,
    Any chance of you posting that photo from the Lyle guide, so we can compare with the Smorthwait being discussed here? Thank you.
     
  30. rstl99

    rstl99 Registered User
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    Thanks Nigel, and good observation. If you look at the comparative photo in post #9 above, where I showed another Smorthwait clock that had a silvered dial, the chapter ring on that one does also seem to tuck under the front fret. I agree with you that it would seem more esthetic for the chapter ring to be in FRONT of the fret, thereby showing the full circle to the observer, but maybe there was a reason for that relation. By the way, the chapter ring on mine is NOT squared off in any way, it's a full circle, just that the top edge is not visible, hidden behind the fret. Good suggestion about the washers, makes sense.
     
  31. rstl99

    rstl99 Registered User
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    Very nicely put Nigel, in all respects.
    I only wish I had a helpful tutor as you seem to benefit from.
    And indeed, these timepieces, whether clocks or watches, have lived a long life and have often needed repairs and upgrades, that have changed some of the original design to a certain extent.
    I'm not a car collector, but I gather that in somewhat recent years, the trend has been for collectors to pay Big Money for cars that have been unmolested ("Barn finds" they are often referred to), and even though dusty, or rusty, or damaged cosmetically in many ways, collectors fight over such specimens that are as they left the factory floor, albeit with the ravages of time. That way, the collector can get his/her favourite restorer do the car over knowing they were starting from an original basis.
    I suppose the same holds true for something like a lantern clock. The seller who sold me mine, sold another one, which was more a "barn find" specimen, dusty, rusty, possibly incomplete, but appearing fairly original. The latter sold for around 4 times what I paid for mine. Not sure I ascribe to those kind of collector principles but I admire people who strive for originality. I tend to lean a bit on the side of functionality so my Smorthwait with a nice german movement, which will happily sit on my mantle, is just fine for me.
     
  32. rstl99

    rstl99 Registered User
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    I echo your sentiments, Nick, well put. Yes in my case as well, it's not so much being only able to "afford the wrecks" as you put it, but I have a penchant and a weakness for objects that have been a little neglected, and derive pleasure from acquiring them at a reasonable cost, and enjoying getting them back in order as you say, looking nice and doing what they were intended to do. But I applaud those of us, either more fortunate in having the means to do so, or having very discerning tastes, who acquire some of the beautiful and exquisite (and usually quite valuable) objects. All of us play a part in the antique horology "ecosystem". :)
     
  33. rstl99

    rstl99 Registered User
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    I believe Mason has a comment about that, saying the Smorthwait never made the same clock twice, that he always introduced some small cosmetic changes to differentiate them. The half-hour markers were certainly a way to do that.
    Which brings me to a question borne out of a certain ignorance and lack of good reading material on the subject:

    Question: how much of the lantern clocks from that period (17th, early 18th) did the clockmaker actually MAKE? Probably, like in watches, there was a division of labour and a plethora of parts and components suppliers, who would make and sell individual parts that would be put together by the maker into a clock, or a watch. So for example, was the chapter ring something a clockmaker would buy already made, with the roman numerals already etched in, and maybe the half-hour markers? Or would he put in the half-hour markers himself, to his taste? The same question would go to most of the other components (movement, case, bell, etc. etc.) but I'm presently interested about the chapter ring.
     
  34. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    There are no hard and fast rules in this, every clockmaker was very much an individual, and none more individual than the provincial clockmaker.

    However we know that even in the 17th century parts were bought in. Foundries made wheels, frets, posts, and presumably sheet for dials and chapter rings. There were makers of hands, engravers and presumably makers of dials.

    Some makers did their own engraving and were skilled at it offering services to others, some did very simple engraving or decoration presumably to save the cost of putting it out.

    Robey has written on the subject of London foundry marks on 17th century clocks.Presumably Smorthwaite would have had access to London foundries which were all east of the city.
     
  35. rstl99

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    #35 rstl99, May 22, 2019 at 9:56 AM
    Last edited: May 22, 2019 at 10:15 AM
    I took a few photos of how the chapter ring is attached to the dial, by three substantial feet (two on each side at the bottom, and one around 10 o'clock at the top), secured by a bent pin. You can see on the two bottom ones how an additional hole has been added, connecting to the existing one, for the barrel arbours sticking out the front. So I gather that the chapter ring is attached to the dial, and the dial is attached to the front plate of the clock by 4 small screws, one at each corner. For the two bottom ones, it looks like the worker mistakenly drilled the hole right through the chapter ring, as you can see the opening on the outside (not so for the two two screws). For the two top screws, no holes exist through the chapter ring.

    The movement is attached by three substantial pillars secured somehow to the back of the front plate of the clock, two at the bottom and one at the center nearer the top. These pillars are turned down at their end, stick through holes in the movement plate, and are secured by steel pins. All is very snug and no play exists.

    So my strategy will be to (1) remove the hands, (2) remove the movement, (3) remove the 4 small screws holding the dial/chapter ring to the front plate, (4) disconnect the chapter ring from the dial. Clean and inspect.

    Anyway, I'm just slowly familiarizing myself with how this clock is put together. I am resisting the urge to start taking it apart, because I have many other things on the go, and this would be a great project for the Fall, unless I decide to do it beforehand, of course...

    IMG_0248.jpg IMG_0250.jpg IMG_0251.jpg IMG_0254.jpg
     
  36. rstl99

    rstl99 Registered User
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    Thanks for those insights Nick. Indeed, I thought that it might have been a little different from a provincial maker like Smorthwait, as opposed to a London maker who would possibly have more ready access to manufactured parts. Maybe the provincial makers had to be a bit more autonomous, and make a few more things themselves. Then again maybe not, I'm sure there were distribution networks back then, supplying provincial makers with the necessary bits. And that this helped lantern clocks retain characteristic and fairly consistent sizes and shapes, no matter where they were produced in England.
     
  37. rstl99

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    Speaking of consistency, I wonder if the bells on lantern clocks were produced with a particular tone in mind? Mine comes out as a pretty clear "C note". Good quality bell, it keeps ringing for almost 30 seconds when struck, the sound fading away very slowly.
     
  38. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    I look forward to seeing the chapter ring and dial off, I don't quite understand the construction at the moment. My concern would be that there has been more change than just swapping the movement but it will all become much clearer when you take it apart.
     
  39. rstl99

    rstl99 Registered User
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    I don't quite understand it either!
    Yes, I'm sure all will be revealed, good and bad, when things start coming apart and revealing their secrets.
    I'm a curious person, so will likely get at this sooner than later...
    Thanks for your help and insights.
     
  40. rstl99

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    From "English Lantern Clocks and their Conversions" by Basil Brewer (England). NAWCC Bulletin, 1969. Well stated.

    One has to live with clocks, so to speak, and these good quality conversions have many advantages. In the first place they keep accurate or nearly accurate time. Also, it is more convenient to accommodate them in some free standing space without the need to hack walls about to mount a substantial bracket with all the attendant drapings hanging down in the form of ropes or chains to take driving weights and counter weights. And, of course, there is less likelihood of an 8-day clock being left unwound; in this connection a 30-hour clock often stands run down unless the owner is charged with some kind of military precision orderliness to ensure that the daily winding ritual is not forgotten. (...) The converted William Martin (*) clock gives me very good efficient service, at the same time giving an air of maturity in regard to its antiquity. (...) In conclusion I think that readers will agree that a lantern clock has a pleasing character of its own and this may account for their manufacture, extensive repairing, conversions and reproductions for some 350 years or more.

    (*) William Martin of Bristol clock, converted at turn of 19th/20th century with an 8 day fusee movement signed Barnsdale, London. Total weight of clock with replaced movement was 15 pounds.
     
  41. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    I don't entirely agree, I can see that there is an advantage for some to have a clock you can put on a shelf or mantelpiece. I also agree with Brian Loomes , that without these conversions many of these makers would be lost to us because the clocks would have been scrapped.

    However I love 30 hour clocks, and there is no military precision required to wind them, that's just silly.

    Having said that, many lanterns would only run for 12 hours :)
     
  42. rstl99

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    I briefly owned a 30 hour wall-hanging dutch clock, but I wouldn't say it gave me great "pleasure". I suppose one would get used to them, even attached to them. Especially an antique lantern 30 (12) hour... ;)

    Carried to the extreme, Brewer's argument would probably make it acceptable installing a small modern quartz movement inside a vintage Lantern clock to drive the hands! I know, sacrilege!! But there just might be a vintage bracket clock SOMEWHERE, running on a quartz movement (or, more plausibly, on an electric movement...) :eek:
     
  43. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    I bought a 30 hour longcase dial that had been converted to quartz. Fortunately they kept the movement in their loft, and although it is a single hander they didn't lose the loose hour wheel. Also all the holes drilled for mounting were under the chapter ring. I'm pleased to say that all the right bits have now been reunited.
     
  44. rstl99

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    Glad you were able to rescue that 30 hour clock, and a bit of a miracle that the bits were saved! Oh well, can't blame people I suppose... ignorance, laziness, and convenience have undoubtedly spelled the doom of countless clocks and watches over the centuries... Still going on today by the sounds of it. Nice to be able to rescue one once in while...
     
  45. zedric

    zedric Registered User

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    16B4E643-28D5-4003-932C-1510108A0837.jpeg
    Here you go. The image in the book is tiny so there is not a lot of detail to go on
     
  46. rstl99

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    #46 rstl99, May 23, 2019 at 4:09 AM
    Last edited: May 23, 2019 at 4:14 AM
    Thanks for uploading that picture from the Lyle book, Zedric. I put it in an image editing app and tried to tease out some of the details.

    What came out, as you can see by the attached edited image, is that the dial of that Lyle Smorthwait clock is not the same as mine. In the Lyle, his signature does not appear in the top half of the dial, but rather it is some curvy engraving pattern as is often seen in later lantern clocks of his, where he chooses to display his signature on the bottom of the chapter ring. (See clocks no. 88 and 145 in Nigel's image in post #25, for similar dials). In this case, the dark photo does not allow seeing the signature on the bottom, but it's definitely not in the dial, as it is on mine.

    Thus I conclude that this clock in the Lyle guide is probably one of the other 21 Smorthwait clocks that Loomes was referring to, and that mine may still in fact be "number 22".

    Interestingly, whoever wrote that listing in the Lyle book did not research very well, by ascribing a date of 1680 to that Smorthwait clock (he would have been 5 years old at the time!) :)

    Cheers.
    --Robert

    smorthwait-auction-clock.jpg
     
  47. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    There are loads of mistakes in the older clock books, I find them all the time. However we have the internet, they did not, so I ciut them a lot of slack.Even though they have led to all sorts of perceived truths that are quite false. (eg all 30 hours longcase are countwheel, there were no marquetry provincial longcase, plus loads of dating anomalies)
     
  48. rstl99

    rstl99 Registered User
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    Yes Nick, you are quite right, editors of some of the older reference books can be forgiven for some errors due to not having ready access to some of the information sources the Internet now provides us. Lyle's book (that Zedric picked the photo from) dates from 1988, but likely much of the pricing information in it (and details on particular makers) was repeated from year to year. Anyway, for fun I checked into two of the usual sources that someone writing summary blurbs for such books would have at their disposal (which would likely not include Mason's book on Colchester!):

    1. Baillie's Watchmakers and Clockmakers of the World (Second Edition 1947):
    Smorthwaite, Colchester, Early 18c. Lantern and l.c. clock. Watch

    2. Britten's Old Clocks and Watches and their Makers (Seventh Edition 1955):
    Smorthwaite, Colchester, Lantern clock, about 1680

    Lyle (and/or the auction house) evidently used 2. in coming up with 1680 as the date in the descriptor of the clock in question.

    Of course, our friend Loomes gets it right in his 21st Century Edition:
    Smorthwait, John. From Middleton in Lonsdale (Westmorland) (b.c. 1675) to Colchester (Essex) 1706-d. 1739
     
  49. rstl99

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    #49 rstl99, May 23, 2019 at 9:42 AM
    Last edited: May 23, 2019 at 10:02 AM
    For fun I took the hands off, and took a photo of the dial unencumbered with them. I would presume that the maker would mark a circle on the dial (from the inner diameter of the chapter ring) to guide the graver's work. In this case, the person who engraved the floral arabesques at the bottom espoused the edge of the chapter ring perfectly. And the floral engraving was possibly done after the center hole had been made and edge beveled, as you can see the engraving spilling slightly into the beveled portion from the bottom.

    The person who engraved the name, however, might have been a little unfocused that morning, and ran out of room at the end of the name. Left too much space between the "w" and the "a", and then tried to compensate by squeezing the last letters together and by leaning them back, but still ran out of room and slightly exceeded the space laid out initially, so that part of the "t" is hidden under the ring. (I know, Nick, this probably adds fuel to your doubt about the originality of the chapter ring ;))

    Even though the minute hand is obviously a later addition, the restorer/converter took some care to emulate the style of the original hour hand, and the brass square insert is a nice quality touch.
    I'll likely put the hands in a small electrolytic bath to remove surface rust without frictional contact. Any advice on what to do to them to get them looking semi-original in colour? Would they have been dull or glossy black originally?

    smorthwait-dial-nohands.jpg smorthwait-hands3.jpg smorthwait-hands2.jpg smorthwait-hands1.jpg
     
  50. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    Is the hour hand tapered in thickness, and does the brass centre rest in a square? I always thought the hour hand was like from the original movement. It would have been blued originally I would think, pretty standard practice by the time this was made.
     

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