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Foreign Westminster/Whittington clock: Who made it, and is it practically worth saving?

Albano B.

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Hi everyone,

Back on this wonderful forum with some more questions for you all. As I have been isolated on a small island in a state of perpetual boredom for the past few months, I recently found this little tambour clock from the interwebs, and impulse bought it for hardly anything. The description said it was a project clock and it wasn't running, and I figured it would be a nice chiming clock to study without being too upset about potentially breaking things. Plus, my partner is interested in the case restoration side of things, so it semed like a win win situation.

Well, the clock arrived three days ago, and, what do you know? It does run after all, though clearly it's in need of some love. It also happens to have some of the sweetest-sounding chimes in my collection, so, against my better judgment, I ended up getting attached to it and ran it for a day. Pretty great time keeper, too, even in its neglected state.

Fortunately for me, I stopped it the next day in order to take out the movement and see what it's all about. Turns out, not only is the movement very grimy indeed, but it's also got the inner half of three teeth broken on the time barrel. I don't know if those partial wheels engaged at all while I ran the clock. I'm guessing not, since nothing went bang, which I presume would be the case if those partial teeth were to try to engage with those of the adjacent wheels. Silly me went and fully wound up the thing, too.

So now, as stated in my title, my two questions. First, based on the attached photos, would anyone be able to ID the maker of this movement/clock? Based on the "foreign" designation, I take the movement at least to be made after 1926 by a German manufacturer for the English market, and that the case and gong assembly may or may not have been made by the same maker. Any thoughts on who the maker(s) might be would be great to hear.

Second, a trickier question... Or perhaps a matter of opinion. Is this clock worth salvaging from a time and budget-friendly perspective? In particular, I'm thinking about those semi-broken teeth on the barrel... How much of a headache is that to fix and/or replace? Or, should I give this sweetly chiming clock up for lost as a potential salvage, and treat it as a learning clock as I originally had in mind?

As always, thanks much for any and all advice.

Regards,

Albano

foreign movement 01.jpg foreign movement 02.jpg foreign movement 03.jpg foreign tambour case.jpg
 

Betzel

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Nice find, and not just under the circumstances. If you got a pair, what do the hands look like?

I agree, the movement looks German. Maybe Junghans or Hermle? I have seen the word "Foreign" on many dials from Germany, but this is a first on the movement. I can't read the fine print on what's left of the dial. If you use a "black light" on the dial, you may be able to glean more information, but it may only reveal the name of a retailer. Still, good sleuthing fun and it will help you restore the dial.

"Foreign" was a requirement of the UK Merchandise Marks Act of 1926 - clocks made abroad would bear the Foreign legion instead of the actual country of origin.
So, yeah, 1926 to 1940-ish makes sense. Others may be able to pin down the actual maker(s) and actual age. But, usually (perhaps if the movement and case were made together?) the word "Foreign" would be on the dial as it would have been a finished product ready for export and sale? In this case, perhaps the cases were made outside Germany and the movements were supplied to their trade? Maybe the UK. Without a maker's name on the dial, this one may have been made for a more common and less expensive market. Finer movements of this period were branded, but 1930's Germany needed money and had to lay low, and so this was a good way to get more income.

Is it a national treasure in any country(s) where it may have been made? Probably not. Could it be sold for more than what you paid and would need to invest to bring it back to life? Probably not. Would knowing that stop most of us on this board from saving it anyway? Probably not. I'm more interested in improving my repair skills and owning odd chunks of history than rarity and value, so I'm beginning to think of my accidental collection as a "pet shelter" for old clocks. So, you have to decide if you want a project with no reward beyond a true challenge and the pride of a job well done. I tell myself I'm practicing so when I have finer clocks, I will not ruin them. This might be the learning clock to drive you forward?

Boston has a very healthy clock culture, so if your partner can revive the case (but not too much) and you do most of the repair work, you should be able to find someone to help with repairs you may not be ready to make (there is likely more damage than just those three teeth). Or, when others confirm this is a common timekeeper with little historic or monetary value, maybe you will go whole hog and make your first barrel wedge, cutting the new tooth profile carefully with needle files, or better yet --make a fly cutter and get down to it. Maybe you have an artist friend who can try to re-ink the dial? The "P.13cm" means you will need a pendulum with a 13 centimeter length. Not hard to find new or used.

I think you'll enjoy bringing it back to life. There is plenty of help to be found right here, and on YT, so you'll never be alone ;-)

If you can post a shot of the hands and get a few shots of the dial under a black light, it may help with identification.
 
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JTD

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Yes, the broken barrel teeth could be repaired (many descriptions of how to do it on this site). There may be other wheels needing attention but you will only find that out when you have disassembled the movement.

Yes, it's German, not sure of the maker but there are those here who can recognise movements by sight, so perhaps they will be along soon.

It is particularly nice that you have two choices of chime, Westminster or Whittington.

JTD
 
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J. A. Olson

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Erhard Jauch Uhrenfabrik, 1930's. Case was British made and the movement being stamped 'Foreign' was sometimes done in advance of the movement being sold to British clients. This was entirely subjective upon each movement manufacturer.
Quality is typical for a mid-range German movement, comparable to other makes such as Gebr. Petersen and Urgos.
Gong was made in Germany or Britain by a supplier such as Wagner or Hengstler. The dial was a screened transfer and will have to be refinished.
It'll be a great clock when it's restored. Worth putting effort into.
 

new2clocks

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'Foreign' was sometimes done in advance of the movement being sold to British clients. This was entirely subjective upon each movement manufacturer.
CCF,

You should elaborate on this statement.

By law, the Merchandise Marks Act of 1926, required items of import into the U.K. that were manufactured outside the U.K. to be marked either 'Foreign' or with the the Country of Origin.

The law did not allow subjectivity on the part of the non-U.K. manufacturer.

Regards.
 
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J. A. Olson

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I don't believe the law was ever upheld that strictly in practice and there is evidence to the case. Sometimes movements appear without any stampings while others are blatantly signed Foreign such as the Erhard Jauch shown above. The styling of signature on the Jauch does not look any different from the Pendulum length in CM, making it doubtful it was added in Britain. The Pendulum length was always stamped at factory, I have never seen evidence suggesting otherwise.

We also have this Haller brand clock with a Foreign stamp …

… And my own clock without any Foreign or Germany stamp to be found on movement or dial. Notice 'Haller AG' instead of 'Haller'.
Said 'Preston's - Boulton' in barely-legible text on dial.

HallerAG1.jpg HallerAG2.jpg

Then things get strange. Here is my MB Peerless which says Foreign on the dial, Made in Germany on the back plate.
Retailed by Oldfields of Liverpool. Circa 1930 according to serial numbering:

MBa.jpg MBe.JPG MBc.jpg

And finally, this VFU/Gustav Becker made in Freiburg im Silesia: entirely devoid of Foreign or country of origin stamps. Circa 1928-1929.
Out of all the dual chime Beckers found in Britain, only a handful have ever been found bearing the 'Foreign' legion on dial.
GB anchor sometimes appears on dial. Retailer marks are rarely found on this brand.

9042156F-A089-4E76-A91E-AD368C999FA8.jpg 163C95C9-FDB1-442C-8FD8-FBF41D5F7940.jpg

Further photos of these and other clocks are on hand but the point stands: the stampings weren't so consistent as the legalese text might lead one to believe. Personally, I don't see the law holding any significance besides to masquerade the grim fact that so many 'British' clocks were coming out of Germany at that time. Either complete or as parts.

Having handled a number of these clocks I can say they're great clocks, English or foreign German alike. Nice chimes and cases, good timekeepers, and overall durable quality regardless of make. Having Whittington and Westminster chimes makes for better variety compared to other chime clocks' melody selections and they can be silenced at will.

The British made cases tend to have more aesthetic variety which leads to some unusual and rare combinations of movement and case.
Conversely the factory-made cases from foreign Germany tend to be more structurally sound.
 
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new2clocks

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CCF,

My comments are below.

I don't believe the law was ever upheld that strictly in practice and there is evidence to the case.
This is your belief based on your observations. To state it as fact, without the qualification that it is your belief based on your observations, is misleading. Also, see my last paragraph.


We also have this Haller brand clock with a Foreign stamp …
Not sure what your point is here. The movement clearly is stamped 'Foreign'.

Then things get strange. Here is my MB Peerless which says Foreign on the dial, Made in Germany on the back plate.
Although we use the term 'Foreign' as an indication of the Merchandise Marks Act of 1926 (probably since the vast majority of the post-1925 German clocks imported into the U.K. used the word 'Foreign'), as I stated above, the non-U.K. manufacturer of products imported into the U.K. had the option of indicating Country of Origin on their products. As a result, your Peerless was marked appropriately under the MMA.

And finally, this VFU/Gustav Becker made in Freiburg im Silesia: entirely devoid of Foreign or country of origin stamps. Circa 1928-1929.
This begs the following question:

- how do we know it is circa 1928 - 1929? Also, see my next point, below.

Out of all the dual chime Beckers found in Britain, only a handful have ever been found bearing the 'Foreign' legion on dial.
And how do we know that these GBs without the mark of country of origin (or 'Foreign') were originally manufactured for export to the U.K.? There are a plethora of German made clocks in the U.S. that were made post-1890 that have no indication of compliance with the rules and regulations of the McKinley Tariff act of 1890. Do we assume that each of these clocks were exported to the U.S. in violation of the McKinley Tariff Act of 1890? No. We are, as an example, aware that many clocks were brought home from the European continent after WWII.

It also does not make sense why some of the dual chime Beckers were marked in accordance with the Merchandise Marks Act of 1926 and some were not.

I don't see the law holding any significance besides to masquerade the grim fact that so many 'British' clocks were coming out of Germany at that time.
There was no masquerading of any sort.

All of these laws, whether they were for tax dollars (or pounds or French Francs) or simply an indication that the consumer was purchasing an object that was not made in the home country, were protectionist at their core. This is one reason why some German manufacturers set-up 'assembly' operations in France. There were tariffs on complete movements coming from Germany, but if the pieces were imported and assembled in France, there was no tariff (or lower tariffs). Whether this French law attempted to create French employment or not, it effectively did so, along with additional tax francs.

In addition, the Merchandise Marks Act had been in force since at least 1836. The Merchandise Marks Act of 1926 was the update to the previous MMA in force at the time the MMA of 1926 was signed into law. The MMA in force prior to the enactment of the MMA of 1926 was much less stringent. In that previous MMA, a clock could not be imported into the U.K. if it intimated (my words) that is was a U.K. product in any way. This was very subjective. So, when a much more stringent and more easily enforced law comes into effect, such as the MMA of 1926, it is enforced.

Regards.
 
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J. A. Olson

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To state it as fact, without the qualification that it is your belief based on your observations, is misleading.
It is misleading to state that every clock imported to Britain was marked 'Foreign' under the 1926 MMA, when there is evidence that this wasn't always so. Even if the 'exemptions' are sporadic, they still run contrary to the oft-held statement.

Not sure what your point is here. The movement clearly is stamped 'Foreign'.
The other clock from the same brand lacks the Foreign signature on movement or dial. It just says 'Haller AG' with their trademark.
This particular clock was imported from Britain almost 10 years ago without any indication it started off in another country.
It shows all the typical hallmarks of a British case with German movement and other components (gong, dial, pendulum).
Preston's of Bolton was one of several jeweler firms selling these clocks in Britain during the 1930's.

Its two chime movement does not appear in any catalog from Haller AG or Kienzle prior to 1926 which rules out the previously-held assumption it was made prior to 1926. If we are to now suggest the Foreign stamp was not done at the factory, why wouldn't it have been done when the clock movement landed in Britain?

...the non-U.K. manufacturer of products imported into the U.K. had the option of indicating Country of Origin on their products. As a result, your Peerless was marked appropriately under the MMA.
I appreciate the explanation for this. It is fairly unusual as no other German make I've handled opted to stamp their movements 'Made in Germany' for British exports at that time.

how do we know it is circa 1928 - 1929? Also, see my next point, below.
We look at the serial number (1848) in accordance with John Hubby's extensive serials database. If he has a more precise date range then I'll be glad to acknowledge. The first instance of the dual chime 'Wewi' movement is a 1926 catalog entry without any evidence they were made beforehand. They don't appear in the earlier catalogs.

And how do we know that these GBs without the mark of country of origin (or 'Foreign') were originally manufactured for export to the U.K.?
While these clocks were not intentionally aimed at a singular market, the vast majority of dual chime Becker mantel clocks I've documented came from Britain without any evidence or claims that they were imported twice over from another country.

It also does not make sense why some of the dual chime Beckers were marked in accordance with the Merchandise Marks Act of 1926 and some were not.
I agree it's an anomaly and had hoped you would have more insight on this since no one else had an explanation. I appreciate the discussion but would like to invite taking it to a separate thread or direct discussion to avoid throwing off the original post's subject.

In any instance, Albano's Erhard Jauch clock will make for a great piece when finished. The one weak point on these clocks is the wood screws and holes which mount the movement inside the case. These can sometimes strip out with age or rough handling, and must be rethreaded to hold the movement firm. One must also be careful when removing the gong rods so they don't get crushed on the ways out and in. The chimes tend to have a mellow sound, like Bow Bells pealing in the distance.
 

Albano B.

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In any instance, Albano's Erhard Jauch clock will make for a great piece when finished. The one weak point on these clocks is the wood screws and holes which mount the movement inside the case. These can sometimes strip out with age or rough handling, and must be rethreaded to hold the movement firm. One must also be careful when removing the gong rods so they don't get crushed on the ways out and in. The chimes tend to have a mellow sound, like Bow Bells pealing in the distance.
Thanks, Justin, for the ID! I had this funny feeling it might be a Jauch... Though gongs aren't necessarily indicative of a maker, I did find a Youtube video of a Jauch dual chime mantle clock that chimed identically to mine, and the ticking and chime train sound signatures were also the same. Still, I figured it was best to check here and make sure before assuming.

It's also interesting that you should mention the mounting screws... I discovered that the top two screws on my particular example are actually slightly larger steel replacements, while the bottom two seem to be original. So, clearly this clock has been worked on before.
I also notice that the movement sits rather crookedly within the case. The top two mounting brackets are tilted away from the inside of the case, while the bottom two are directly against it. Tightening the two top screws does improve the situation slightly, but there's still a noticeable gap between brackets and case. As a result, the hand arbor and chime and silencing levers don't stick out of the dial quite as much as they perhaps should, and also because of this, the hour hand doesn't have very far to go in before it starts contacting the dial. Any idea why this might be?
 

J. A. Olson

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It sounds like your clock's movement was badly remounted. It simply wouldn't have been so sloppy when new. All arbors, levers, and hand shaft should align well enough to ensure they can all be accessed. The movement's mounting screws are just wood screws in a shorter size than what's normally made. If the brackets got bent up for any reason the movement won't sit level inside the case. This tends to happen due to poor transit. These clocks shouldn't be shipped on their backsides because the wood screw threads strip out more easily with the weight of the entire movement going downward against the threads.
 

Betzel

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Amazing what you can learn here. A mid-grade movement with a better case may take this one out of the base/practice work category, but I think it's still worth restoring and hope you agree.

Looking more closely at the three damaged teeth, they are only partially shorn. New full depth teeth would be ideal, but when you present the barrel to someone with the experience to mill new teeth, they may advise a less difficult and less costly fix. If you can show us the (lantern) pinion it mates with, maybe we can give an opinion on this and perhaps the repairs might not be as extensive as first thought?

Hope this helps and inspires.
 
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Albano B.

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Amazing what you can learn here. A mid-grade movement with a better case may take this one out of the base/practice work category, but I think it's still worth restoring and hope you agree.

Looking more closely at the three damaged teeth, they are only partially shorn. New full depth teeth would be ideal, but when you present the barrel to someone with the experience to mill new teeth, they may advise a less difficult and less costly fix. If you can show us the (lantern) pinion it mates with, maybe we can give an opinion on this and perhaps the repairs might not be as extensive as first thought?

Hope this helps and inspires.
Oh, I completely agree! This clock is quite nice, and if I can get it restored, I will definitely give it a shot.

I spent much of yesterday researching case restoration methods... Found some pretty useful ideas, too. While I suspect it might be too visual of a task for me to do, I sent my findings to my partner, so she can give them a try once she finishes writing her final exam essays. Both she and her father are artists, so I'm in luck in that regard. That said, we're not quite sure on how to best restore the dial and its almost warn off numbers... Any pointers on that would be greatly appreciated.

In regards to the movement... Yes, those three teeth are only broken on the inside of the barrel. I find it interesting how three of them in a row seem to be broken in the exact same way, with the outer halves preserved. I don't know if there's enough of them left to engage with the pinion they're supposed to drive... I don't think there's a way for me to reach deep enough into the movement to tactally tell, anyway, as there are lots of other wheels and such from the strike and chime sides in the way. I'm guessing I'd need to take the plates apart to check that, and I haven't gotten that far in my studies/abilities so far... I haven't even gotten to let down my first spring as of yet.

It also doesn't help that I have very few tools and resources right now... I'm currently at my partner's family's house in BC, Canada, and all I've got to work with are a set of screwdrivers, a set of pliers, a universal clock key, and a kitchen table as a work surface. I'm adding new tools as I'm learning that I need them, but since we're on a small, rather out of the way island, the acquisition process is quite slow.

As of now, there is a clock repairer on Vancouver island who seems pretty friendly... My girlfriend had him fix the braille pocket watch she gave me for my birthday last year, and he said he'd be interested in helping me learn more about clock repair. Sadly, Canada hasn't been doing too well on the COVID front of late, so we haven't been able to travel out to see him. Nonetheless, I'll give him a call and see what he has to say... Maybe I can ship the movement out to him.

In the meantime, studying this movement has been very informative. All the parts of the chiming and striking mechanisms are clearly organized and easily accessible by touch, so I've been learning a lot about how they interconnect and trip one another to a certain degree. Still, I'm very much looking forward to post-COVID times, when I can maybe find someone who could help me learn more in-person, either here in BC or back home in Boston.
 
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Betzel

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Well,

Okay. If you have mechanical aptitude, but no clock experience, tools, or workplace now I would still encourage you. But, I would suggest from personal experience it might be best to find something less challenging to begin with. Why not put it all back together with a non-existently light coat of oil and come back to it later when you're more advanced?

The first few clocks and pocket watches I serviced survived, but with scars. The best way to start, IMHO, is with weight driven clocks, not springs and clocks with a pendulum, not a balance. Though they are still a challenge, they are less likely to frustrate, and are still cool to hang on a wall when you're done. You will slowly acquire skills, specialized tools, and learn not to lose as many small parts by plugging every hole and crack that exists in your work area, and over-clean (removing original metal from parts until you can stop yourself) as you find your way. Fixer-uppers are all over second-hand shops just waiting for you :)

Making parts well, especially wheels and pinions, is high level skill. Most of us have to unlearn bad habits we picked up over the years. And, with "just" disassembly and cleaning, clock springs can permanently claim your eyes and fingers. To run well most clocks will need skilled (but not impossible) pivot and bushing work. Not having a spring winder is fine if you have used one for decades and are replacing all of them, but this is rarely a good idea. I suspect you have at least a broken spring on the going train, and the others may be set. New springs are so much stronger now, it's frustrating to order the right one. Pendulums will swing 2x as wide and Big Ben will sound more like an alarm clock. Plus, there will be much more damage inside. If you have to disassemble it, take a thousand pictures from every angle. Best to stop now, I think.

Do you have a local repair shop with a kind old man who can point you towards a local enthusiasts club? Have you seen the introductory NAWCC you-tube videos? These seem peer reviewed and are very well done free education. As usual, be careful of guys (physical and virtual) who gladly share their ignorance as knowledge - there's a lot of misinformation out there, and not just on clocks. I would park this one and check back in when you have done a few easy ones. The guys here will help you through both.

Good luck!
 

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