ID on Black Forest Boule (?) Clock.

pelops

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Jan 8, 2011
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This was given to me by a Swiss/Germany friend who's now in her 90s.She said it belonged to her grandmother and her mother before her. It was sent for repair about 70 years ago and she believed that when they got it back the mechanism looked different, though her mother thought it was the same.
It looks very old. The case is coveted in creosote from it standing on their mantlepiece above their open hearth.

I've no idea of it's age, as I can't find anything like it. It is also very temperamental. Sometimes going okay and at other times racing ahead x4.

Can anyone help answer these questions please, as I'm sure she would be interested too.?

1) Can anyone date it?
2) Is the movement original?
3) What are the 3 adjustment discs (?) on the back?
4) Is it possible to regulate it and how do I do it....
5) Am I correct in calling it a 'Boule'?

Also, I've never attempted to clean it, other than a soft cloth, as pieces of 'patina' break off from the case and what ornamentation is missing from the sides (see photos)?

There are lots of markings to the inside back case, including a signature, probably the case maker, though I can't read it (last photo).

Many thanks
Andrew

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pelops

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Jan 8, 2011
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Forgot to mention it's a 'ting tang' striking the hour and quarters on 2 bells. Though this again is very temperamental, as it doesn't strike 3 quarters at 45m, instead it strikes the hour:???:
 

CCInet

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Actually the state of the brightness is terribly bad, rarely seen.
Wow, that's a pretty unusual move for me. Why would they put a separate spring for a bell sound that has only one bell?
What is the wind-up key on the foot for? Is there a music box in there or is it just so you don't lose the key?
 

pelops

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Jan 8, 2011
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Hi, I should have said there are two bells, one large and one smaller, they sit on the same spigot, one above the other, with a wooden washer separating them. The RH hammer strikes the large bell and the LH hammer the small.
The hole beneath, is just to hold the key.

When you say brightness, do you mean the mechanism, or ate you referring to the creosote being bad?. Thanks
 

CCInet

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I was referring to the finish, was the creosote deliberately put in for some reason? Looks to me like it's decomposed shellac.
Having two bells makes more sense a third string.
Then the inscriptions are noteworthy watchmaker. Maybe they are repair dates but I can't figure them out.
11/2/28?
2/14/28?
1/18/63?
11/18/83?
 

Uhralt

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This is a nice and rare piece! I see no indication that the movement is not original to the clock. The movement looks Austrian or Swiss to me, not Black Forest. I also believe that the inscriptions are repair dates. I read 13.1.63 as the oldest date (January 13, 1863). that means the clock is no younger than that. Likely it has been running some time before the first service was due.

Uhralt
 

pelops

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Jan 8, 2011
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CCInet, the creosote is from smoke from their wood fire. My friend said it sat above the fire at the family farmhouse in Germany when she was a child. She says it's creosote but I suppose it could be mixed with the shellac as its a hard substance.
 

pelops

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Jan 8, 2011
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Uhralt, what makes you think it is rare and can you recognise what movement it is, so that I can know more about it and get a better idea of what I need to do to regulate it?

I know they were Swiss German. Her father was Swiss, her mother German. She was born in Switzerland but raised in Germany at the families Farmhouse. I presume it was from this same farmhouse she mentioned in Germany.
 

Uhralt

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Uhralt, what makes you think it is rare and can you recognise what movement it is, so that I can know more about it and get a better idea of what I need to do to regulate it?

I know they were Swiss German. Her father was Swiss, her mother German. She was born in Switzerland but raised in Germany at the families Farmhouse. I presume it was from this same farmhouse she mentioned in Germany.
I think it is rare because you do not see many of these movements around. Typical Black Forest movements are much more common. unfortunately, I'm not a specialist in Austrian/Swiss clocks but I'm sure others will tell you more about your clock.
To regulate the clock, you move the pendulum bob up, if the clock is slow, down if the clock is running fast. You do so by turning the nut beneath the bob.

Most likely the movement would benefit from a good cleaning and oiling.

Uhralt
 
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Ticktocktime100

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Hi,

Yes, that is a very fine clock indeed. I would vote Austrian myself, based on the movement structure, rather than Swiss. The clock dates to around 1780, perhaps a bit later - I agree with Uhralt that the markings are repair dates. The clock would originally have been guilded, so I would refer to it as giltwood or rococo style, but certainly not as Boulle - Boulle refers to tortoiseshell inlaid with brass, a type of marquetry developed by André-Charles Boulle (1642-1732), Louis XIV’s favourite cabinetmaker. The three discs on the back plate are the click assemblies for each of the three mainsprings.

Regards.
 

pelops

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Jan 8, 2011
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Ticktocktime100, thank you.

I'm amazed it's that early, I was thinking mid C19th but as I said, didn't recognise the movement and couldn't find anything similar on the Internet.

It's going at the moment. It's been running for just over 24 hours and seems to be keeping fairly accurate time but the quarter strike is wrong.
Ever quarter it strikes 4 on the small bell at 15m, 30m and 60m. At 45m it strikes 3 which is correct (instead of increasing from 1 to 4).
This is followed every quarter by the hour strike on the large bell, which I would have expected to strike just on the hour and not every quarter.

It's also finicky in that it doesn't like to be enhanced. If you move the fingers forward (letting it complete each strike), it can silence one or both strikes. Instead I have to stop it running and remember to restart it at the right time. The hour strike runs down quite fastest but even so I can get away with winding it once every day.

Obviously it's way overdue for a clean. I'm wondering would this solve the quarter chime issue, or do you think it's wear within the mechanism?

Thanks
 

CCInet

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With only that photo of the movement I understand it will be very difficult to help you. You should remove the movement to see what type of mechanism governs the bell quarter. I'm imagining a counting wheel, but I'm just guessing.
 

PatH

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Is it my eyes, or is it a silk string suspension (see picture 6)?
 

Uhralt

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Hi,

Yes, that is a very fine clock indeed. I would vote Austrian myself, based on the movement structure, rather than Swiss. The clock dates to around 1780, perhaps a bit later - I agree with Uhralt that the markings are repair dates. The clock would originally have been guilded, so I would refer to it as giltwood or rococo style, but certainly not as Boulle - Boulle refers to tortoiseshell inlaid with brass, a type of marquetry developed by André-Charles Boulle (1642-1732), Louis XIV’s favourite cabinetmaker. The three discs on the back plate are the click assemblies for each of the three mainsprings.

Regards.
I think the three discs are part of the stop works for the three mainsprings. The "fingers" attached to the winding arbors, that interact with the discs by moving them forward one notch with every turn of the winding arbor, are missing. That happened often because a person who repaired the clock didn't understand how they worked and just removed the fingers. The clock will still run and strike without them but will be less precise. The purpose of the stop works is twofold: One is to limit the use of the spring to a range where the power is more or less unchanged. The other is to prevent damage to the spring by not allowing to wind them too tight.

Uhralt
 
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pelops

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Jan 8, 2011
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I think your clock strikes correctly. It has a Grande Sonnerie strike.
You are a Star!
I was going to say it's not a repeater, as it doesn't have that facility but I've just found it (see pics).
Top left is the repeater lever, which would have had a thread passing through a hole at the bottom side of the case.

Its only possible to see it from the inside due to the patination on the case.

As for the chimes, they have calmed down a bit and are now 75% of the time correct. It is still having an occasion hiccup but is Chiming the quarters first, followed by the past hour.

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pelops

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Jan 8, 2011
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With only that photo of the movement I understand it will be very difficult to help you. You should remove the movement to see what type of mechanism governs the bell quarter. I'm imagining a counting wheel, but I'm just guessing.
I'll try to remove the movement tomorrow and will post the photos here, as I would like to know more myself.
 

pelops

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Jan 8, 2011
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I think the three discs are part of the stop works for the three mainsprings. The "fingers" attached to the winding arbors, that interact with the discs by moving them forward one notch with every turn of the winding arbor, are missing. That happened often because a person who repaired the clock didn't understand how they worked and just removed the fingers. The clock will still run and strike without them but will be less precise. The purpose of the stop works is twofold: One is to limit the use of the spring to a range where the power is more or less unchanged. The other is to prevent damage to the spring by not allowing to wind them too tight.

Uhralt
Thanks again. I'll post pics tomorrow of the mechanism, hopefully that will help everyone with identification.

As for the outside patination to the case, I've done some research and understand that excessive heat can melt the adhesive used to glue the gesso to the wood. This melts passes through the gesso and bonds with the paint and creosote forming a hard surface.

The small pieces breaking off are due to natural age shrinkage in the wooden case. The gesso doesn't shrink, creating a gap between the wood and the applied surface. The same problem effects old victorian picture frames and why bits break off (that's how I found the info).
 

pelops

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Jan 8, 2011
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Here are the photos of the mechanism removed. Unfortunately I couldn't remove the dial, as I don't know how to take the hands off but the plate behind covers any view of the mechanism. If you need more photos from a different angle, just ask and thanks again.

I've also tested cleaning a small area of the case. I'll put that in a separate thread in restoration, so I don't tie up this thread.

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Uhralt

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Other from being in need of a good service, the movement looks in pretty good shape, as far as I could see. To remove the hands, you need to unscrew the knurled nut that holds the minute hand. The minute hand then pulls right off. The hour hand is likely just a friction fit and can be pulled off too. There may be a small screw that becomes visible after removal of the minute hand. If so, this needs to be unscrewed before the hour hand can be pulled off.

Uhralt
 
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pelops

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Right, that took some forcing but it's done. The fingers are off. Now I'm face with this plate covering the mechanism. There are 2 small pivot holes not used at 9 O'clock.

There is no maker marks behind the dial.

To remove this plate, I will have to remove 4 pins on the inside. Just hope I can get it back together.

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pelops

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Jan 8, 2011
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This is the reveal. The photos of the mechanism from the front from different angles. I've seen quite a few mechanisms from wall and mantle clocks but I've never seen anything like this before. It looks completely alien to me.
Can anyone identify country, maker and age from this?

Thanks
Andrew

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Burkhard Rasch

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verry nice and quality movement , I´d vote for Austria , too , especially per the non-moving barrels. Note that these Austrian clocks nearly all are 30hour runners , not 8 or 14dayers as their french counterparts.Servicing this is a job for a professional , I wouldn´t dare to take it appart.
If I were You I´d oil every pivot front and rear with a tiny drop of clock oil and have it running for a few weeks , intime look for a well reputed clockmaker to have it serviced. Cannot say anything about how to treat the case , perhaps leave it as it is...
Best regards
Burkhard
 
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pelops

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Jan 8, 2011
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verry nice and quality movement , I´d vote for Austria , too , especially per the non-moving barrels. Note that these Austrian clocks nearly all are 30hour runners , not 8 or 14dayers as their french counterparts.Servicing this is a job for a professional , I wouldn´t dare to take it appart.
If I were You I´d oil every pivot front and rear with a tiny drop of clock oil and have it running for a few weeks , intime look for a well reputed clockmaker to have it serviced. Cannot say anything about how to treat the case , perhaps leave it as it is...
Best regards
Burkhard
Thank you Burkhard for the help and advice. Would you have a clue to the date, It's been suggested circa 1780?

As for the case, I've already started the process of removing the creosote. I'm taking it back to the gesso base before repainting and gilding it with gold leaf.

I would have liked an aged patina, but unfortunately there's no real alternative, as I have to remove the old surface for a stable foundation.
The good news is that the heat hasn't caused any damage to the case, it will need some new gesso in places but I'm confident I can get it looking appropriate for its age.

I'll post before and after pics as soon as it's done.

As to the oil.... I have some longcase oil somewhere. Would this be suitable?
 

pelops

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Jan 8, 2011
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I think the three discs are part of the stop works for the three mainsprings. The "fingers" attached to the winding arbors, that interact with the discs by moving them forward one notch with every turn of the winding arbor, are missing. That happened often because a person who repaired the clock didn't understand how they worked and just removed the fingers. The clock will still run and strike without them but will be less precise. The purpose of the stop works is twofold: One is to limit the use of the spring to a range where the power is more or less unchanged. The other is to prevent damage to the spring by not allowing to wind them too tight.

Uhralt
I'm sorry Uhralt but I'm not technical enough to know what I'm looking at with the mechanism, so don't really understand what you're saying, though I do appreciate your help and advice.

Is this what you were expecting to see, and is there any sign of missing parts, or what it is causing the quarter strike problem?

Thanks
Andrew
 

Uhralt

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I'm sorry Uhralt but I'm not technical enough to know what I'm looking at with the mechanism, so don't really understand what you're saying, though I do appreciate your help and advice.

Is this what you were expecting to see, and is there any sign of missing parts, or what it is causing the quarter strike problem?

Thanks
Andrew
If I understand correctly, the quarter strike problem occurs intermittently. That means that most likely the problem is not due to missing parts. Otherwise, it would occur all the time.

The front of the clock looks like expected for a Grande Sonnerie repeater clock.
If you follow Burkhard's advice and lightly oil all the pivots, that might solve the problem. Oil the pivots only, not any wheels. Also, make sure that all the levers on the front of the clock move freely. A sticky lever can also cause this kind of problem.

Uhralt
 
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pelops

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Thanks again.
Are you still happy with the date of c1780 and that it is rare?
I appreciate your opinion. Thank you.
 

Uhralt

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Thanks again.
Are you still happy with the date of c1780 and that it is rare?
I appreciate your opinion. Thank you.
I see no reason why I should change my mind regarding rarity.
With regard to the date, the Rococo style of the case would fit an around 1780-time frame. That would make the repair dates in the 1820s (that I couldn't read) plausible.

Uhralt
 

pelops

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Jan 8, 2011
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I see no reason why I should change my mind regarding rarity.
With regard to the date, the Rococo style of the case would fit an around 1780-time frame. That would make the repair dates in the 1820s (that I couldn't read) plausible.

Uhralt
I've spoken with her and that seems plausible, as there was a marriage in her family in 1783. I have her patch box with the couples initials on and the date.

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