help ID banjo / patent time piece?

Discussion in 'General Clock Discussions' started by bruce linde, Aug 10, 2017.

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  1. bruce linde

    bruce linde Technical Admin
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    this is one of my clock mentor's banjo clocks... one of three he purchased from a friend long ago.

    he's wondering if y'all can tell him who made it, when, etc.?

    thanks!

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
  2. bruce linde

    bruce linde Technical Admin
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    a few more photos... seems like an iron dial... very heavy

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
  3. harold bain

    harold bain Forums Administrator
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    Bruce, the only other company I know of that used that method of attaching the movement with screws is Stromberg. But, I have never heard of a Stromberg banjo
     
  4. Peter A. Nunes

    Peter A. Nunes Super Moderator
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    Simon Willard, Aaron Willard, Elnathan Taber, William Cummens, Aaron Willard Jnr., and other early Boston makers all featured diagonal through bolts such as these for movement mounting. The T-bridge pendulum suspension is also an early feature. The hands are mismatched, and I don't think either are original. The dial looks to have been repainted, probably a long time ago. It's hard to tell if the tablets are original. It looks as though the frames have been re-gilded. As always, I highly recommend getting Paul Foley's book, "Willard's Patent Time Pieces". It's worth its weight in gold.
     
  5. Jim DuBois

    Jim DuBois Registered User
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    I agree with Peter on all points and add a couple more. But, to your original question, and as Peter suggests, there were a number of makers of T bridge banjo (timepieces) that used the long diagonal bolts, bolts that originally only threaded into the wood backboard with no metal "nuts" if you will. This clock has had enough rework that additional clues as to the maker have been masked or lost. It appears to me as if the doors have been replaced possibly at the time the glasses were created. The weight shield behind the pendulum is most likely replaced, and the pendulum tie down is entirely missing. By the way, thanks for the excellent photos...the pin for tieing off the end of the weight cord is a nice earlier feature. The cord tie off pin, the T bridge, and the diagonal long bolts are certainly suggestive of the Boston area earlier makers, as does the brass ferrule on the hour hand. But, as to which one, it is frequently difficult under the best of circumstances to pin down a maker on completely unmolesed examples. Paul Foleys book is also recommended by me if you care to investigate further.
     
  6. rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

    rmarkowitz1_cee4a1 Registered User
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    #6 rmarkowitz1_cee4a1, Aug 11, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2017
    I agree with Peter.

    To me, the most interesting feature of the clock is the movement. It appears to me to be one of the earlier and larger "T-bridge" movements mounted by diagonal through bolts. Your clock also suggests why these are often changed and the mounting method was ultimately abandoned. The bolts screwed through the back board. The holes in the backboard eventually became stripped and the bolts no longer were able to secure the movement to the case. So, in the instance of your banjo, this necessitated the use of washers and nuts. There were other problems with this mounting method including the effects of compressing the front plate.

    Is it a "step train" movement? See Foley's book for what that is.

    The weight is new.

    I believe that the dial is a repaint. In this instance, I don't see all the stray mounting holes that were present in the last example you posted so I do believe that based upon the evidence provided, it is at least original.

    In my opinion, the hands are replaced and the minute hand is the wrong style.

    I agree that at best, the case was re-gilded and not well. For example, look at all the wrinkles in the gold leaf. The rope molding concerns me. Doesn't look right.

    Can't tell from the images provided if the side arms are right or wrong. Note how they pin to the case. It was my understanding that at least the earlier Willards pinned through one of the "diamonds".

    I believe the glasses to be replacements, possibly old ones. Note how the design on the throat glass doesn't quite fit.

    Tie down is missing.

    Foley has much information about how cases were constructed, eg, how the "head" was chiseled out, glue block configurations, back board construction etc.... this is info, plus other fine points of movement, dials, hardware, etc., that you might consider when evaluating a banjo before acquiring and that could assist you in your efforts to "date" and "id". Get the book. It's not the end all and be all, but it will help.

    A comment about the pix. A few well chosen full shots and then close-ups to illustrate important details are the most informative.

    I have to say that this and another recent posting remind me of a conversation I had not too long ago with a dealer in antique clocks. We were chatting at a clock auction and were doing the "post mortem" of a recent general antiques auction were 2 banjo clocks were offered. I spoke about one that sold reasonably but I listed it's various short comings and wondered if I should have tried to buy it as it was a pretty clock. This person chuckled, shook his head and said, "Bob, if you want to buy problematic banjo clocks, the world is your oyster."

    Made me pause and think.

    RM

    PS: didn't see Jim's posting before posting mine...what he says. I went back and looked at the pix of the back of the door. I had focused on how the "rope" molding looked and the quality of the gilding...I do believe he's correct about that the door and probably both frames are replacements.
     
  7. George Nelson

    George Nelson Registered User
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    Hi, All,

    Not much to add to the other, more knowledgeable comments. I was struck, however, but a bit of what I consider 'crudity' to the doors, leading me to believe something is not quite right. Probably replacements by a not so skilled person, or perhaps another problem we may never know.

    I, too, am unsure about the glasses. I can say that the bottom glass was broken by a stress crack, not an impact of any kind. This may support the door replacement theory. In my one patent timepiece, the glass floats a bit within the frame, allowing it to move rather than break if the door is accidentally forced out of square. All of the original patent timepieces I've seen have doors that are quite delicate, and their original glass is thin, allowing for easy breakage. One last comment on the glass. The designs are a bit unusual, and not quite as colorful as most of the other clocks of this type that I have seen.


    The movement looks to be of good quality to me, and pretty much unmolested.

    Best to all,

    George
     
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