Help to identify this long-case clock?

Discussion in 'General Clock Discussions' started by Betzel, Jul 31, 2020.

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  1. Betzel

    Betzel Registered User

    Dec 1, 2010
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    Greetings,

    I am considering buying this "find" from a second-hand store here in the south of Italy.

    It's more than 6 feet as I am 5'11" and that point falls about at the base of the 12 indicator on the dial. I do not think it's quite seven feet from the floor though. The dial appears hand decorated and the glass has some waviness, but no dimples or defects in it (maybe replaced along the way). One nail holding the backboard is square (like the old tacks my dad used to keep in a rusty cigar tin), and I am unable to find any hint of a maker's name (front or back of the dial) with the access I had in the store. Nothing even faded against a reflected light. There were some kinds of perhaps paper documents stuck (glued?) on the top of the crown, but they looked almost mummified, so nothing easy to learn there. Any suggestions on how to tease out the information without destroying things would be helpful!

    Also, one weight is marked "12" and the other "13" or "15." If anyone can maybe clarify and advise which weight is for which train, it would be very helpful to me.

    I am buying it solely for the pleasure of working on it, and having it by my side for a few months, as we can't ship it back to the US or take it with us to France. Based on the case, dial and hands, my guess is maybe Scotland, and perhaps the later period, like 1875-1890?

    Hope these photos are helpful. All observations and comments welcome. Thanks in advance!

    GF1.jpg GF2.jpg GF3.jpg GF4.jpg GF5.jpg
     
  2. Betzel

    Betzel Registered User

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    These images are from the crown, taken from above (egads, the dust) and were maybe identifiers of some sort. Not helpful (it seems?) but I'll post them anyway.

    GF6.jpg GF7.jpg GF8.jpg
     
  3. gleber

    gleber Registered User

    Jun 15, 2015
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    I'm sorry I can't help with any identification, but I am puzzled by the bends in the crutch. I can't figure if they are decorative or intended to shorten the crutch to fit a specific suspension spring or some other purpose? I do like the painting in the arch.

    Tom
     
  4. bruce linde

    bruce linde Technical Admin
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    they are kind of hideous and wrong.... looks like someone didn't have the right length of suspension spring and got 'creative'.
     
  5. Betzel

    Betzel Registered User

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    Good eye. I did not even notice that! I did see that someone had placed plywood under the saddle board, but for what reason I couldn't say. The wood is in pretty good shape.

    I think I read somewhere on this board that plywood came into popular use during the depression -- another handy-man piece of creativity?
     
  6. gleber

    gleber Registered User

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    Well, it jumped out a me like a palm tree in the arctic would, so I don't know about that.

    Plywood under an otherwise good saddle makes it sound like marriage made up to fit where it otherwise didn't.

    Tom
     
  7. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User
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    I've seen one bend like that in a crutch but not two, I would think it was to match the block height on the feather they had rather than match the feather to the clock as is usual.

    The dial suggests post 1830. The hands seem ok for that too as far as I'm aware though these clocks are not my area of collecting so I don't know that much about them.

    I don't know that it looks particularly Northern and I think the decoration has a light touch so I don't think it as a lot later than 1830. Jonathan is very good at dating the dial and hand style.

    The weights are, I think, sash weights. Usually these clocks by this date have the same weight on both sides, usually 11 or 12 pound cast iron. Earlier clocks always had the heavier weight on the strike side.

    Not that far from Italy to France, you might want to take it that far at least, though I don't think it would be highly prized in either country I rather like the dial.
     
  8. new2clocks

    new2clocks Registered User
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    I recall seeing this type of crutch before, but cannot remember much more about it.

    Regards.
     
  9. new2clocks

    new2clocks Registered User
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    Can you show a picture(s) of this?

    Regards.
     
  10. Betzel

    Betzel Registered User

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    Thanks folks.

    I might be able to get in for another picture. We'll see :)

    Could be a fit up. The plywood was 3x and only 3-4mm thick. So, I guess I won't know until I buy the thing and get a closer look :)

    Looking for a ziggy crutch (perhaps it really was that hard to get a good long spring during one of the two world wars, but a charge of butchery may be in order) will be something I will be sure to look for in the future, so thanks again, Tom! I learn by making mistakes, and was apparently overly focused on train and escapement wear, which was not too bad. I can fix easier things, but I'm not set up (or maybe not courageous enough) to cut a new escapement wheel, etc. New cabling is needed to replace the natural ones which broke. Perhaps it was a natural fiber or "cat gut"?

    Also, the saddle board was affixed to the lower case. But, it's my understanding that once you have the cables secured for removal, most of these just lift right off maybe secured in a slot of sorts, kind of like the crown slides out and off to reveal the movement. Is a "floating saddle board" something someone can perhaps verify?

    I made a verbal of 300 Euro. Probably too much, but I need something to work on. Maybe I could somehow get it up to France --if I fall in love with it :)
     
  11. svenedin

    svenedin Registered User

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    #11 svenedin, Jul 31, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2020
    Your clock has some similarities (the dial) to a clock of mine which is actually Scottish but these dials were made in the Midlands so it doesn't narrow down the region your clock was made (or perhaps put together is more the term). I think my clock is William IV, 1840-1847 but may be wrong about the date.

    I think your clock is 1840-1850

    I don't think those are sash weights (which are long and thin with an eye not a hook). Appears one is marked 12 Lbs and the other 15 Lbs. Often these clocks were driven by weights heavier than necessary for a well maintained clock but they ground on through neglect with excess weight.


    John Brown, Kilmarnock, Scotland

    IMG_5819.jpeg

    A sash weight from one of my windows marked 8 1/2 Lbs

    IMG_5820.jpeg
     
  12. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User
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    They are far too heavy to be much else, 15lb would run a month going and I don't think they still made those by then.

    Domestic windows had long thing weights but 15lb would be off a big window, though I agree about the hook. Usually just a rope hole for a knot

    The light toch on the decoration suggests it wasn't for Norrthern or Scottish tastes but without a name we can't pin it down any further.

    Yes, seatboards would not normally be fixed to the case except for earlier provincial 30 hours sometimes for particular makers. The movement should be fixed to the seatboard and that just rests on the cheeks of the carcase.
     
  13. Betzel

    Betzel Registered User

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    Many thanks again, people. Maybe it's a little older than I think?

    When I was living in Boston, I serviced some (ok, all of them) double hung windows in an old apartment we were renting. Rusty cast iron weights were found mothballed in the sides with so many broken ropes. Not much different with this clock - a hole is in the base where a weight surely fell right through --right after the rope gave way.

    The 1920's? sash weights were cast iron, and they had an eye loop (cast in) rather than a hook. They were one on each side, and weighed about 5-6 pounds at the most, as I recall. Same general idea, though.

    Maybe these weights are a bit too heavy, but I guess they will work well enough. I'll put the larger one on the time train if my 300 euro offer is accepted.
     
  14. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User
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    The weights won't do it any good, you really should source some lighter ones. They would have been cast iron and they are cheap enough. There would not have been a base in the case originally, if one was added it was a later modification. Yes sash weights usually end up in the bottom of the cavity wall.

    Change the old gut for new gut lines and put a couple of 10 or 12 pound weights on.
     
  15. Betzel

    Betzel Registered User

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    Maybe.

    If I can transport and thus keep the clock, this is good advice to reduce wear. I didn't get a good look at the "base," as it was so dusty and filled with the kinds of things small children would have stuffed into a clock a generation or two ago --I think there was a toy elephant in there. But, something was down there with a silhouette from a dropped weight. It looked like a bomb crater or cutout in an old cartoon after the villain was pushed off the cliff.

    If one of these is 12 and the other 15 (and a pound is a pound everywhere) it might be good to keep the 15 for conservation, put the 12 on the time train, then find another for the strike. Should one look for another 12, or shoot for something even lighter, maybe 10 pounds?

    For guesstim-dating the clock, the consensus so far seems "mid to later 1800's" and British, but (assuming the movement is original, not established) perhaps a midlander, rather than a highlander.

    It's all good, so thanks for all the comments and advice.
     
  16. svenedin

    svenedin Registered User

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    Just to say that there is a remote possibility you might pick up the remains of a maker’s name on the dial by looking with a UV torch. Try looking obliquely too. it’s a long shot. Your offer if accepted seems a very good deal to me. I had a look at one of the supply houses (Meadows and Passmore) and the cast iron long case weights for sale were from 8 Lbs to 17 Lbs in one pound increments.
     
  17. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User
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    The heavier weights could be for a small turret clock.

    As to keeping the 12 and looking for another the 12 is fine on either train but no need for anything heavier. If you find a 10 put that on the time side but another 12 will be fine.
     
  18. Betzel

    Betzel Registered User

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    OK.

    I will see if I can pull off the oblique UV Sherlock Holmes dial reading trick. Brilliant; it seems non-destructive.

    Wish I could read what's on the paper glued to the crown without damaging it. I'm thinking vacuum the dust, then use distilled water/ one drop of dish soap misted onto a linen cloth starting at the edges with a light touch to see if anything good happens. This worked for getting cigarette smoke (etc.) off an "ivorine" dial, but this is rather different, as it's old (mummified!) paper. MAYBE, it got hit with some shellac?

    I'll look for a set of 10 pound weights, maybe at M&P, but if a 12er presents itself, I'll do that. My wife isn't too keen on striking in our small house, so that train will get less use. I need to settle down and open up a shop! Someday.
     
  19. jmclaugh

    jmclaugh Registered User

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    Very odd crutch arrangement. Anyway the brass matching hands are the last type used on these clocks but only indicate a not earlier than around 1810 as they were used right through until the demise of longcases. No minute numbering dates from around 1820 and the dial painting as mentioned suggests not too much later than around 1830. If you check the back of the dial you may find a dial maker's name. The case looks around about 1830 or so.

    I don't recall coming across numbered weights before but 12lbs for the going and 15lbs for the strike would not be an unusual combination though in terms of wear and tear less is better as long as it runs on it.
     
  20. svenedin

    svenedin Registered User

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    You do get used to striking clocks although some long cases do have particularly strident bells. My rule rule was no striking clocks upstairs but I have broken it with carriage clocks. They're not very loud though. You can adjust the hammer to give a softer strike.
     
  21. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User
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    The movement is not designed for leaving the strike unwound, this may case problems. better to adjust the hammer for a softer strike or wire up the rack so that it can't fall when released. You really don't notice after a while. (we didn't notice the hall clock had stopped completely for nearly two days and that has a passing strike on the half hour too)
     
  22. svenedin

    svenedin Registered User

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    I hardly notice the striking any more but I certainly do notice the absence of the strike if there's something wrong!
     
  23. Betzel

    Betzel Registered User

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    More good advice. I'll test with less weight after servicing and see if/how it works. Good pivot work...

    Strident is fair. All heads turned in the shop when I energized the strike train and moved the hands. A BHI student, I've read about of these in the DLC, but never actually heard one hit before. I appreciate the phrase "Clear as a bell" a bit more now.

    I have a no-name gilded (1860ish?) bronze frenchie mantle/boudoir that has an amazingly quiet pendulum, but it's in "her" bedroom, so even after adjustment and some tries with felt and leather, the bell had to come out...old spurs strike as their wear patterns dictate. I usually leave those alone.
     
  24. svenedin

    svenedin Registered User

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    #24 svenedin, Aug 1, 2020
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2020
    Strident is probably a bit mean of me. I'm a campanologist so bells are my thing. Long case bells mean you to pay attention; they're very "bright" in sound and they are hit rather hard too! I think the idea is you were meant to be able to hear them throughout the house. They were very expensive in their day and they would have been a prized possession and probably the only clock a person owned. It's a real shame that so many are unloved these days. Really glad you're keen and I do hope you secure the deal and give it a new life.

    As an aside, here's a bit more about my clock for anyone interested (it did get published in print):
    Scottish Longcase John Brown Kilmarnock

    Also noticed I got my dates for William IV wrong by a decade in post #11, should be 1830-1837.

    Stephen
     
  25. Betzel

    Betzel Registered User

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    I wouldn't be so hard on yourself. When most (southern, at least) Italians are engaged in even mundane conversation, and even if it's "just" on the telephone, they are locked in a sweetly lost world of their own requiring everyone's full concentration --I mean practically unstoppable. The striking of the bell stopped all that dead. Attenzione! Maybe they thought a train was coming. For a second the Walter Mitty in me thought I was going to get the occio male, but it was done for love of art and antiques; so, all was forgiven. Ars longa vita brevis. I knew it was coming, and it caught me off guard as well. A few of my bench hammers are smaller than that!

    If you ever get a chance to (safely) visit Italy, swing by the Pontificia Fonderia Marinelli in Agnone. They have been making bells for almost a thousand years, and people say they still give quite a tour for bell lovers everywhere. Maybe you've already been? I've only seen videos, but really want to go someday.
     
  26. svenedin

    svenedin Registered User

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    Thank for the tip. No I've never been there. I have watched bells being cast at the Whitechapel bell foundry in London. In fact they were 2 new bells for our church. Sadly the foundry has now closed after 450 years of continuous operation, 250 on the same site.
     
  27. Betzel

    Betzel Registered User

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    So, I broke down and gave the guy his price before the vacation/holidays really set in. I now own my first longcase! Attached are some "at home" pictures that may help further ID/date. Some observations/thoughts:

    1) It's 84 1/4" tall, so about 7 feet, and originally came with these 15 and 12 pound weights.

    2) The saddle was not fastened, but was indeed floating, though not like I would have thought. I'm beginning to think the saddle-board was replaced, as it seems out of sorts and machine chamfered. Too good. But methinks it was too thin and too narrow, so this oddly thin plywood base may have been used to compensate for that thinness, raising it, and the dust shadow shows it (IMHO) not being wide enough (but, this is my first longcase experience). Perhaps it needed a supportive platform to rest on, so someone made-do. Still don't know if the movement or dial is original to the case, but some old nail holes (?) are sized about right for the current dial. Did people originally nail these dials down?

    3) I'm thinking the crutch was replaced, rather than the feather, which is why it was shortened with the zig-zag (Z-plasty) technique. There were two long, sad world wars.

    4) The pendulum is made of ribbon steel with brass faced bob and a square regulating nut. Maybe this is standard.

    5) Maybe all of these had 8-sided nuts on the bell? Dunno. But, it really is "strident" and rings quite well. I love it.

    6) I looked at the dial in the direct sun today. Still could not make out any markings. Will try the UV trick.

    7) JUST FOR FUN: The "tag" I found crumpled up inside the case looks like something from a British gentleman's club (Auction party? --with cigars and cognac in real leather chairs?) held around Dec 27, 1911. Don't know when this got to Italy, but it may well have still been in England as of winter, 1911.

    I have other clocks apart at the moment, and one should get the others back together and running well before dis-assembling anything new. And, a package arrived today with needed material. It's a stretch goal, but I'm trying! I do not see anything identifying on the back of the dial, visually, and it all looks dark as hell, but something maybe will present.

    Are there any other things to photo to help ID and date? I will provide a close-up of the dial if that helps.

    Thanks in advance if anyone can guide...

    Tag.jpg PendoBack.jpg 8sidedNutonBell.jpg InsideCase.jpg UnderSaddle.jpg BehindPendo.jpg R-Plywood.jpg WithoutSaddleBoard.jpg
     
  28. Betzel

    Betzel Registered User

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    In the clear light of day, I think Tom was right in #6. Perhaps this is a "workshop wedding," as the gap between the dial arch top, and that of the crown should not, I think, be there. The existing saddle was made not very long ago, and does not really fit this case well, so plywood! The replacement (?) crutch was shortened as I think it would have been too long for the movement. None of this is right or proper ;-)

    I bought it for the experience of repairing it, and the price was OK. So, what would reasonable changes be for an effort to restore/conserve what's left? Any advice is appreciated.

    Gap.jpg
     

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