Help identify cast metal clock

Kelly

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Jul 15, 2009
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The first of my "learner" clocks is probably the strangest of the lot. It has a cast metal (bronze?) case, stands about a foot high by 9" wide (no tape measure at hand, so I'm guestimating), and has no visible maker's mark. The back of the casting is marked "115" and the letters "AF" appear molded into the metal.

Front
94.jpg

Back
95.jpg

The back and mechanism case appear to have once been plated with something, possibly nickel, but most of the plating is gone. The only other markings are a patent mark, a "Made in USA" mark, and someone's crudely engraved signature. The patent mark lists several years and reads "PAT'D OCT 28, 1909 MAY 15, 1906 DEC 15, 1908 PATENTS PDG." The signature, presumably of a past owner, appears to be "Arthur Gabrielsen".

I haven't opened the mechanism, but I'm assuming I'll find some kind of balance-wheel assembly inside: either that or a pile of dust and rust. The mechanism is currently non-functional: winding is irregular, although there is some tension suggesting the spring might still be intact. Any thoughts on maker, year of manufacture, materials (I'm guessing on the metals) or likely mechanism details would be greatly appreciated!
 

Steven Thornberry

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When I see these little pot metal novelty clocks, I first of think either New Haven or Gilbert (i don't know why that). I actually found this case in Tran's Gilbert book, but with a plainer dial. Assuming I have the correct ID, it is the Gilt No. 115, which apparently could come as either a 30-hour time-only clock or a time-and-alarm clock. Tran shows it for 1913; so, it could have been made a few years either side of that date. It was 10.5" high and 8.5' wide. It sold for $2.15 as a time only and $2.65 with alarm. It was gold plate finished, per Tran.
 

Kelly

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Thank you, Steven! Armed with your information, I dug around and found a couple of pictures on the web of clocks similar to mine, so I'm certain your identification is right.

If the casting ever had any gilt, it is long, long gone- but the metal itself has a nice patina to it. It doesn't look like iron to me, but... more bronzy/brassy. But I haven't seen all that many metal clock cases of this age, so that could just be my lack of familiarity.

There is one obvious repair to the casting: the right leg (looking face-on) must have been broken off at some point- the repair is almost unnoticeable from the front, but there is a large blob of bronze-coloured metal on the back. I'd guess, though, that the repair is a few decades old.

The other useful thing I got from your response was the reference to Tran Duy Ly. I had never heard of him or his books up until now, so you've done me a second great favour. Now all I need to do is find somewhere that sells his books!

It always amazes me to see what these clocks sold for 90+ years ago. Barely over $2: these days, that wouldn't even get you the box it comes in :p
 

Steven Thornberry

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Tran's books are sold in a variety of places. The NAWCC sells them, and they can be ordered online - discount to NAWCC members. Tran himself sells them through his Arlington Books website, and I have been able to find them through the Crunruh website. Occasionally they can be had on eBay.
 

Jeremy Woodoff

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There is a patent listed for that date assigned to Western Clock Mfg. Co. (Westclox). It is for a click spring improvement. I think that case design may have been used by more than one manufacturer.
 

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