George Prior, silvered fusee drop dial, early 19th C

novicetimekeeper

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I never expected to win this one, it came at a very good price. It's quite early for a drop dial, given the silvered dial, concave bezel , and those hands. Nice early design of drop dial case too.

Auctioneer described it as 1810 but I think it is earlier based on the dial and hand features. Those features match one of my verge dial clocks, I think this is possibly a contemporary. When did drop dials make an appearance? Prior was a good maker, he had an eye for business, I think he would have been at the forefront of new opportunities.

george prior 10.jpeg george prior 9.jpeg george prior 8.jpeg george prior 7.jpeg george prior 6.jpeg george prior 5.jpg george prior 4.jpg george prior 3.jpg george prior 2.jpg george prior 1.jpg
 

zedric

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Congratulations on your latest purchase- looked good in the auction photos, hope it looks as good at home!
 
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novicetimekeeper

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Yes, definitely up there with the best of the dial clocks, and certainly the best drop dial. I'm looking forward to seeing it, the case will need work, dial needs resilvering and the movement going through.
 

Chris Radano

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When it comes to fellow clock collectors, I believe everyone should have the best clocks they are able to procure. The more the merrier. But I must say, I am feeling pangs of jealousy for the first time in years.
When I get Bowen we have to compare. They are similar clocks. Maybe Will (who is the current caretaker for Bowen) can post some pics.
Prior is a glorious beast.
 

novicetimekeeper

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I really like wooden dials so Bowen is a great clock, I never thought I would be fortunate enough to have another silvered dial, and I think this is the rarest because you really don't see many silvered drop dials. There are a couple in Rose, I think this is in the first 10 years of the 19thC
 

Chris Radano

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Prior looks like a 14" dial. It may have a 12" chapter ring but then there are the Arabic 5 minute markers so that would be closer to a 14" dial. I love those hands, too. That is just a great brass dial clock.
Bowen has a very similar case. But a 16.5" painted wood dial with concave brass bezel. And brass hands with a counter weighted minute hand. Diamond 5 minute markers within the chapter ring and no Arabic numerals outside the chapter ring.
 

WIngraham

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Great clock, I really like the silvered dial with a beautiful signature. I am sure you will do it justice, I look forward to better pics when it is in hand.

The dial on the Bowen clock is 17.25'' I am not sure if I ever measured it for you or not, but I just measured it now. The other differences are that the ears on the Bowen clock are not all veneered with one piece like this clock and the trunk door is curved. You guys know a lot more about these clocks, I am sure you can tell much more easily from a pic. The trunks are probably the same dimensions on each? The Bowen clock is similar to Plate 71 in Rose's book, even down to the DM stamped on the movement which is seatboard mounted.

To help with the discussion here are some pics to compare, you know I can't do just one or two (I have since put a pin in the ratchet wheel):

20211004_153737.jpg 20220120_193849.jpg 20220120_193950.jpg 20220120_194025.jpg 20220120_194118.jpg 20220120_195939.jpg 20211005_185802.jpg 20211005_185324.jpg 20211005_185401.jpg 20211005_185459.jpg
 

novicetimekeeper

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The prior is a 13" dial. (just as well, I don't have room for a big clock!)
 

Chris Radano

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There is no intention to distract from the Prior clock (pun).
However, you did ask when did drop dials first appear. I'm not sure there were any earlier than Prior (pun). We are getting into tavern clock and (probably later) Norfolk clock territory.
Prior also displays the formula that was the norm for a drop dial. The movement pinned to dial feet, the dial (pinned!) on a thin surround, then attached to the trunk with wood pegs via dial surround rails.
Prior and Bowen have similar case styles. Also the movements have similar oversized rectangular plates. So what is the difference in age between the two? I agree Prior is older. Rose pictures a similar clock to Bowen he dates at 1820.
Prior in it's original finish in very good condition. A rare bird indeed.
I also find noteworthy is Prior's wide, forked pendulum crutch. From your photo Prior's pendulum appears relatively long.
 

jmclaugh

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Lovely clock. There are 2 George Priors who were in London listed in Loomes. The first has dates of 1765-1810 and the second, originally from Skipton and later Leeds was also in London after 1822. The second George Prior is the more celebrated having won awards from the Society of Arts for a clock escapement and a remontoire escapement in 1809 and 1811, the remontoire was later patented. He became a reputed maker of watches for the Turkish market.
 

novicetimekeeper

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Lovely clock. There are 2 George Priors who were in London listed in Loomes. The first has dates of 1765-1810 and the second, originally from Skipton and later Leeds was also in London after 1822. The second George Prior is the more celebrated having won awards from the Society of Arts for a clock escapement and a remontoire escapement in 1809 and 1811, the remontoire was later patented. He became a reputed maker of watches for the Turkish market.
I didn't know that, I rather assumed it was the turkish clock guy. I think it is between 1800 and 1810, nearer to 1800. As pointed out the ears being integral rather than added is an early feature.
 

novicetimekeeper

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I'm finding the two Georges a bit confusing.

The info on the second is all about him being the one exporting to the Turkish market, but there was a George Prior exporting to the Turkish market from London in the 18th century.

Were there really two entirely separate George Priors making watches and lantern clocks for the Turkish market?
 

novicetimekeeper

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This from the V&A.

"George Prior (1735-1814) was the most significant clockmaker exporting clocks and watches to Turkey in the late 18th century. In order to supply an expanding trade he also retailed clocks made by other makers, adding his name to the clock faces. He exported thousands of watches, and a smaller number of lantern clocks and musical bracket clocks. Many clocks supplied by Prior and others were made and packaged ready for export by the firm 'Thwaites', whose name appears on the movement of this clock. John Thwaites, who had premises in Rosoman Row, Clerkenwell, took over from his father Ainsworth in about 1780"

I'm pretty sure the first George is the one who had a major role in developing the Turkish market, to the extent that the name became the generic name for an English clock or watch, rather like Hoover for vacuum cleaner.

If the second one alsohad a trade with that marklet it wouldhave been built on that.
 

novicetimekeeper

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There is a chance, then, that this is a Thwaites. That would help enormously with the date

Edit, no it won't, too early :(
 

Chris Radano

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I think when you have the clock in your hands you may find more. There may be initials stamped on the movement plate.
I think judging by the hands and the dial you're at around 1800-05. The hands style may have gone on a couple years later, but I can't see that dial being too much later than 1800. Actually the dial looks more like 1795 to me. So to date, you look at the common denominators of the clock's components.
The clock was made by London's finest and this clock was the height of fashion (although the dial style may have been aging at that point) for the nature of where it was in service. Most likely a public setting.
 

novicetimekeeper

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Won't be here for ages yet. Dial clocks were originally introduced as a cheaper form of domestic clock and this isn't far off that introduction, it is also small enough for a domestic setting.

If it is thwaites it should be numbered, and whilst there are no records it would still be a guide to age. There are 42 clocks by Thwaites made for Prior in the customer lists in Rose's book.
 

Chris Radano

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The dial is what's holding me back on dating. The dial seems a throwback to the 1790's. But then it has the movement mounting style that became the norm on later painted dials, pinned to dial feet. So many examples we've seen in Rose and at auctions of early dial clocks with screwed or riveted pillars, seat boards, even movement dial feet integrated with the movement front plate and screwed through the dial. All these methods fell by the wayside in favor of dial feet pinned through holes in the front plate such as this Prior example.
 

rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

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Won't be here for ages yet. Dial clocks were originally introduced as a cheaper form of domestic clock and this isn't far off that introduction, it is also small enough for a domestic setting.

If it is thwaites it should be numbered, and whilst there are no records it would still be a guide to age. There are 42 clocks by Thwaites made for Prior in the customer lists in Rose's book.
Very lovely clock which will ultimately be in very good company.

Interesting that you state that one of the motivations for the development of the dial clock was to provide a less costly (than a tall case?) time keeper. I have heard the same said with regards to the American patent timepiece (“banjo clock”). Also roughly @about the same time. Yes, a bit later for the banjo. Reflects the presence of a growing middle class??

Also like the dial clock, the tall case & banjo would be produced simultaneously for years, I suppose meeting different price points?

Congrats on another fine acquisition.

RM
 
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Chris Radano

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Early dial clocks and banjo clocks were contemporaries and also there are parallels as to how the 2 clocks types were used. They were appropriate for both domestic and public use. And absolutely going into the 19th century, these clocks were more affordable for more types of folks.
I can't help but think the larger dialed examples like Bowen were either used in very large rooms, or in public settings.
 

novicetimekeeper

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My earliest style of dial clock is my wooden bezel dial clock. That one is 1780s and has the dial feet riveted to the dial and the verge movement pinned to that. It also has rectangular plates just to throw another curve in the dating game. It is more bracket to dial clock than cartel to dial clock from a movement point of view.

These hands are listed in Rose as the later version of this style, and they are certainly later than the similar ones on another of my dial clocks which I would have said was 1790s.

I think this is in the first few years of the 19th century. when the war with Napoleon was at its height, perhaps just before Trafalgar.
 
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Chris Radano

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Here is another thought. Did the formula for dial clocks that became the norm and lasted until mechanical clocks were last produced, did that originate from drop dials?
What became the formula was the movement pinned to dial feet, the dial screwed to a surround, and the surround pegged via rails to a back box or trunk.
Early dial clocks had verge movements. Either the movement was screwed onto an back iron rail such as a cartel, the movement pinned to dial feet but the dial screwed to a one piece dial and box, or the movement was mounted on a seat board.
With a long pendulum, these methods would not be feasible. Hence the dial surround was pegged through rails on to the back box. Maybe what became standard case construction arose with the onset of the drop dial.
 

Chris Radano

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The side rails to mount the dial surround to the trunk is a tavern clock feature. However a tavern clock's movement is seat board mounted.
So, Bowen is more like a tavern clock. Which was a public clock. So the drop dial integrated the dial clock's dial feet with the tavern clock's dial surround rails.
 

novicetimekeeper

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My wooden bezel has side rails and very narrow wooden pegs. Originally it probably had iron pegs, you see these on some early cases. It is a bit of a transition, before the standard design came about.
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Reading up on dial clocks can be sometimes, be a mystery when It comes to dating them, in fact, many people who collect these clocks (Has I used too) cannot determine when these clocks came about, and they distinguish between the early large wall clocks and the later round dial clocks, but they except drop dial clocks that look like the old large wall clocks calling them Tavern clocks. I see no difference at all. They are all dial clocks that developed over many years. If people want to distinguish these clocks why not by the escapement, Verge, Anchor, Lever, Dead beat, Platform, and many others, it could maybe make it easier. The expert Ronald E: Rose does not distinguish at all, and by the standards, he used Nicks clock is not all early.

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A little research in Loomes tells us that this George Jeffery´s from Maidstone in Kent, app. 1748, working Chatham Kent post-1755-1783.
So a little earlier than the statement on the above. I think somewhere I read that the movement in Nicks clock is from Thwaites and Reed, it would be interesting to know this serial number to date the clock. An example would be 1815, 5391 to 5580. All their serial numbers are in Ronald´s book.
The clock above by Jeffrey´s is not the oldest at all in this form.

Hope this helps,

Allan.
 
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novicetimekeeper

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It may be by T&R, Prior used them. No guarantee. It is early for a drop dial, not early for a dial clock. However that conversation is for the other thread. The question here was about what appeared to be an error in Britten, which has been copied across to other references.
 

Allan C. Purcell

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At the end of all this Nick, we are in fact trying to help you decide how old your drop dial is. One of these was to tell you that Britten was writing long ago, and did not have the opportunities we have today. Always try to stay informed. Next time you see Ian, give him my regards for a wonderful story on George Prior & Sons. (30 pages)

Best wishes,

Allan.
 

jmclaugh

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Just for information, whether it helps or not is another matter.

Britten has the following for Prior George. " George 31 Prescot St. Goodman's Fields, 1765-88; Rosomond's Row, 1794; 5 George Yard, Lombard St., 1798-1810. George son of John, of Otley and Leeds; in 1809 he received from the Society of Arts a silver medal and 25 guineas for a clock escapement, and in 1811, 20 guineas for a remontoire escapement; in 1818 he patented (No. 4,214) a remontoire; in the Yorkshire Directory for 1822 he is described as of Woodhouse Lane, Leeds, but he afterwards removed to City Road, London, and became reputed as a maker of watches for the Turkish market."

Loomes has "Prior George, London (Prescott Street, Goodman Fields) 1765-1812, when succeeded by son Edward Prior. Prior George, Otley (Yorks) date unknown (late 18th C?). Probably the man from Skipton. Prior George, Skipton (Yorks) b1782 son of John Prior q.v., -1807, then Upper Headrow, Leeds (Yorks) 1807-17, then Woodhouse Bar, Leeds (Yorks) 1817-53, d. 1857. Awards from Royal Society of Arts for inventions. Also in London after 1822."
 

jmclaugh

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Reading up on dial clocks can be sometimes, be a mystery when It comes to dating them, in fact, many people who collect these clocks (Has I used too) cannot determine when these clocks came about, and they distinguish between the early large wall clocks and the later round dial clocks, but they except drop dial clocks that look like the old large wall clocks calling them Tavern clocks. I see no difference at all. They are all dial clocks that developed over many years. If people want to distinguish these clocks why not by the escapement, Verge, Anchor, Lever, Dead beat, Platform, and many others, it could maybe make it easier. The expert Ronald E: Rose does not distinguish at all, and by the standards, he used Nicks clock is not all early.

Allan.
In the introduction to his book on dial clocks Rose writes of "the need to put the evolution of dial clocks into perspective, together with that other neglected area - tavern and English cartel clocks." In essence he is distinguishing between them and the most obvious distinguishing thing apart from the period of evolution is the style of case and of course that tavern and Norfolk dial clocks in addition to having very different cases to dial or drop dial clocks are also weight not spring driven.
 
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DeanT

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At the end of all this Nick, we are in fact trying to help you decide how old your drop dial is. One of these was to tell you that Britten was writing long ago, and did not have the opportunities we have today. Always try to stay informed. Next time you see Ian, give him my regards for a wonderful story on George Prior & Sons. (30 pages)

Best wishes,

Allan.
It appears you are confused between a drop dial and a dial clock.
 

novicetimekeeper

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Reading up on dial clocks can be sometimes, be a mystery when It comes to dating them, in fact, many people who collect these clocks (Has I used too) cannot determine when these clocks came about, and they distinguish between the early large wall clocks and the later round dial clocks, but they except drop dial clocks that look like the old large wall clocks calling them Tavern clocks. I see no difference at all. They are all dial clocks that developed over many years. If people want to distinguish these clocks why not by the escapement, Verge, Anchor, Lever, Dead beat, Platform, and many others, it could maybe make it easier. The expert Ronald E: Rose does not distinguish at all, and by the standards, he used Nicks clock is not all early.

View attachment 692119
View attachment 692118
A little research in Loomes tells us that this George Jeffery´s from Maidstone in Kent, app. 1748, working Chatham Kent post-1755-1783.
So a little earlier than the statement on the above. I think somewhere I read that the movement in Nicks clock is from Thwaites and Reed, it would be interesting to know this serial number to date the clock. An example would be 1815, 5391 to 5580. All their serial numbers are in Ronald´s book.
The clock above by Jeffrey´s is not the oldest at all in this form.

Hope this helps,

Allan.
You do seem a bit confused between the different styles of clock, I don't know how far your collecting of them went. I recommend re reading Ron Rose's book as Jonathan suggests.

This clock is an early drop dial, not an early dial clock. The features that mark it out as early are the ears being part of the front panel, the chisel or wedge bottom to the drop, the concave bezel, the silvered dial, and the style of hands.

Drop dials are spring driven, the reason for the extended case is to accommodate a longer pendulum. (Not always as I have one that doesn't need the drop, but that's why they were made originally), That does mean they are usually anchor, though can be deadbeat. No point in a drop dial with a verge movement.

They came after dial clocks, which came after cartel clocks. Fusee dial clocks continued right up to the 1970s, and the dial style continued into electrical clocks so it has been remarkably successful as a design. Drop dials were originally more desirable but they did not replace dial clocks and now they are not as desirable as they need more space.

This clock is an early drop dial clock, and the signature does seem to be that of the first George Prior, the one who made a name for himself in the Ottoman market. Britten appears to have some errors in it as I suspected, but it was, as I said before, written before the internet made searching more easy.
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Points are taken, I gave up collecting clocks about five years ago, though I do still have them. There are five different types but to me all Dial clocks. I only got involved here with the mistakes by Britten, if you can call them that, it was just a lack of information, but they were threads to go from. We have to remember George Prior died in 1814. I can quite believe he is behind this clock, they also used Prior & Sons, and I wondered if George senior used that, or his son Edward after his father's death. I will look into that.

Allan.
 
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novicetimekeeper

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I can't see this being made as late as 1818.

Will know more if it turns out to be Thwaites.
 

P.Hageman

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What a beautifull clock this is Nick!! Think you are getting probably the best collection of early dial clocks! A tiny bit jealous :)
 

novicetimekeeper

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What a beautifull clock this is Nick!! Think you are getting probably the best collection of early dial clocks! A tiny bit jealous :)
I am not that keen on cartel clocks so I think with the very limited space remaining I just want a passing strike and a silvered dial with mock pendulum. However Dorset clocks are always of interest. Sadly I'm not the only Dorset collector and that makes sure the prices are sky high.
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Nick, last night I got out my huge copy of the Tradespeople of London 1808. (Post office Directory)

Prior, Edward, Leather- Seller, 35, Brook Street. Holborn.
Prior. George, Watch-Maker, 9 George-Yard, Lombard Street. (Notice not George Prior & Sons)
Prior Joseph, Dry- Salter, 4 and 17, Prince´s Street, Spitalfields.
Prior -M. Piano forte-manufacturer, 33, Uü- Charlotte, Street. Fitzroy-Square
Prior Thomas, Coal merchant. 24. Salisbury Street, Strand.
Prior William, Attorney. 10 Argyll Street.

That is all there is. I looked too at PRYER & PRYOR. Nothing there.

George died 1814. So it had to be before that date. (Post 34, I did originally put 1818, but changed it 1814 which is correct).

666-66.JPG Here is one of mine, nothing as good as your Prior, but you can hang it on the wall, or just put it above the fire-place.

Regards,

Allan.
 

novicetimekeeper

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Surprised to find it here when I got home, it is going to be a stunner. The dial is pinned to the surround which is another early feature. Have not taken the movement off but I can't feel a number on the front plate so prob not thwaites.
 

Chris Radano

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Allan C. Purcell's clock is referred to in Rose's revised edition dial clock book as a "bank clock", which sits on a bracket (p. 189).

Fantastic you have your clock, Nick. One of the better clocks I've seen lately and you have it.
 

novicetimekeeper

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We used to call the directors clocks, or boardroom clocks.
 

novicetimekeeper

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The clock is now in the process of restoration, the hands are brass and will be polished. The dial will have to go with the case to the cabinetmaker so will be silvered later. The movement has no identification so no further dating indication.

However the pendulum is correct for the clock and certainly fits with very early 19th C which is as close as we will get.
 

novicetimekeeper

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well this one has taken an unfortunate turn.

It seems it was once a verge movement, though has always been with this dial. This means it is a marriage though it seems a very old one. The earlier repair marks have been affected by the conversion, perhaps the later marks came after the conversion?

The pendulum is certainly an early one, perhaps new at the time of conversion.

I'm disappointed, but not too much. it is a handsome clock none the less.

The movement needs a lot of work but I'm going along with that.

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Chris Radano

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I'm not ready to deem it a "marriage". That would imply there was a previous movement in the case. I think it is possible the dial and movement have always been in the case, and/or the case was made for the dial and movement after the conversion.
a clock was not a throw away in the early 19th c.
That is the answer to the question of the dial being stylistically older than the case.
Also, a movement that should not be considered for a reversion to verge.
Consult Ron Rose' English Dial Colcks, revised edition, Chapter 8, "Alterations and Marriages".
 

novicetimekeeper

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Yes I would not reconvert this one.
If the case had been made for it I'm not sure it would have needed previous fixing holes filled on the dial, why not just use the existing ones. Otherwise I would have said yes, case made to go with the conversion. It may still have been, but I think the conversion was later than the style of the case. However it is a 13" dial, so I'm not sure how easy it would have been to find a suitable case.

Either way I'm happy with it.
 

Chris Radano

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I can't explain the filled dial screw holes. The filled holes in the dial could be from early in the dial's life. I don't ever recall seeing filled screw holes in a dial. Yes, filled winding holes.
Oh, I forgot the dial has 2 mounting feet pinned to the surround. Then there is no reason not to think the screw holes were filled when the dial was fitted to the drop trunk case at the time of the anchor conversion.
I can't tell if that is a drilled hole that interferes with the repair date. It looks as though brass was filled excessively, then filed down. As if it were a bushing. Maybe you have that repair date etched.

Also the first time I have seen an anchor conversion for a longer pendulum.

Dial clock alterations were common enough that there is chapter 8 in Rose's book.

Whoever had it liked it so much they ran it into the ground. And it still fetched a rather high price at an auction.
To me the clock tells a cohesive story. This is different than a faked clock or a marriage.
 
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novicetimekeeper

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Yes, sorry, clock not here.

The two dial feet were added when it was recased and the original screw holes then filled.

I see it as an upgrade to a better time keeper, like the conversions of lantern clocks to anchor with a long pendulum, but this meant a new case.

I adore the case so I'm not complaining, I still love the clock and I'm having the movement fully restored in its current form. It will have a new pinion rather than trying to redress that one.
 

novicetimekeeper

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Case and movement now restored and clock up on the wall. I have yet to resilver the dial

The clock is about the same age as that little water colour of ships of the Royal Navy held in ordinary following the end of the Napoleonic wars.

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