Just got my first 'Grandfather' clock c1730

SAR

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I loved the simple look of this one. The seller said he thought the case style might be Welsh c1730, with no columns on the hood and a flat top. It has a brass button on the face, but the inscription is not quite legible. I think it has the name of the maker and place, something like Byly or Digby, but no matter how long I look I can't quite make it out. The movement's turned columns with rings I think mean before 1740, though it seems few movements have turned vertical columns so maybe that is a clue to the maker.

Clock.jpg Face.jpg

Badge.jpg Movement2.jpg Movement1.jpg

Love the original hinges, and they still work perfectly. The wood at the front is good, the rear panel has seen woodworm in the past.

Hinges.jpg

Very happy with it, but would love to know who made it and when. I have yet to sort out the pendulum suspension, but assume a polished brass pendulum is expected when you have a lenticle.

Steve
 

Jim DuBois

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what a nice little clock! Congratulations. Not often you find a clock this old with no fiddling about. It looks remarkably correct!
 

FDelGreco

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A UV light on the nameplate might expose the rest of the letters. You can get a UV in a flashlight. Loomes shows a Charles Digby, London 1721 - 1760. There were others but later. There's a Christopher Bly, London 1744-1749. However, it doesn't look like a London case.

Frank
 

zedric

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It looks like the last word on the panel could be Rugby, or something like that. The first two words would usually be the name, while the last word would usually be the place the maker was working from. It is pretty worn through, so good luck!
 

jmclaugh

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Congrats, it's a very nice provincial case, the pillars on the 30 hour birdcage movement are lovely. A pity the name appears to be illegible.
 

SAR

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what a nice little clock! Congratulations. Not often you find a clock this old with no fiddling about. It looks remarkably correct!
Thanks, I bought it from a collector downsizing and he said it was all correct as far as he could tell, apart from the board under the movement being replaced with like for like probably due to woodworm, and it didn't have its original pendulum when he got it, so he has bought one that he thinks is correct. He clearly knows a lot about these clocks, talked about the different styles and types of wood used. I suppose if he couldn't work out where it came from then I don't stand much chance.

Steve
 

SAR

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A UV light on the nameplate might expose the rest of the letters. You can get a UV in a flashlight. Loomes shows a Charles Digby, London 1721 - 1760. There were others but later. There's a Christopher Bly, London 1744-1749. However, it doesn't look like a London case.

Frank
I will give anything a try - maybe a brass rubbing. Its so tantalising close to being legible. I think these are normally name then place or name then date - though haven't found other examples of this brass button - it seems engraving is most frequently on the dial, and probably done by the dial engraver. I wonder if this was actually inscribed with the owners name instead of the maker and it was deliberately erased when it changed owner.

If I have any success I'll post it on here.

Steve
 

SAR

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It looks like the last word on the panel could be Rugby, or something like that. The first two words would usually be the name, while the last word would usually be the place the maker was working from. It is pretty worn through, so good luck!
Thanks, I will add Rugby to my list.

Steve
 

Mike Phelan

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I wouldn't have thought that a birdcage clock would have come from a clock made as far north as Rugby; generally they were made in the South and East of England.

A contraction of Beaulieu?
 

novicetimekeeper

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I would agree the style was continued in the south west, I have a Wiltshire made alarm longcase from the first half of the 18th century that has them.

It is very much a quirky provincial clock, I hope you can get somewhere further with the name.
 

SAR

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I wouldn't have thought that a birdcage clock would have come from a clock made as far north as Rugby; generally they were made in the South and East of England.

A contraction of Beaulieu?
I had no idea that the birdcage movements were regional. I have searched for this type with turned columns and found images on-line of 4 with known makers, two by Thomas Honeybone of Wanborough, Wiltshire one dated 1770, the other no date given, one by Jno Godwin of Crudwell (North Wiltshire), and one by John Wilkins of Marlborough (Wiltshire) from 1765. Only the undated Honeybone movement has the rings on the column. The John Wilkins clock is of similar design to mine, with plain matted centre and only one hand, and similar case - though no lenticle and no rings on the columns. I think mine is quite a bit earlier.

No doubt there are many other makers of this unusual style of birdcage movement, but I have just looked on a map and these three makers - the only ones I have found making clocks with birdcage movements with turned columns - are really close to each other, within about 15 miles of Swindon.

Interesting stuff.
Steve
 

SAR

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I would agree the style was continued in the south west, I have a Wiltshire made alarm longcase from the first half of the 18th century that has them.
Are you referring to the turned birdcage movement colums? Wiltshire again ! See my comments to Mike Phelan above. Do you know the maker?

Steve
 

Mike Phelan

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All from the southern parts of England, but only as far west as Wiltshire. Mine's from Steyning, a small town near Brighton on the south coast. It's a single handed one with plain iron corner posts and top and bottom plates. The pillars holding pivots are brass, and most of them have never been bushed and don't need to be now!
 

Jevan

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Jul 31, 2014
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I have a North Devon movement signed John Cole of Barnstaple & have seen another signed M Cole of Barnstaple, Mary I think.

My movement & the Mary Cole movement have turned pillars but I have seen birdcage flat pillar movements by both makers.
 

SAR

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All from the southern parts of England, but only as far west as Wiltshire. Mine's from Steyning, a small town near Brighton on the south coast. It's a single handed one with plain iron corner posts and top and bottom plates. The pillars holding pivots are brass, and most of them have never been bushed and don't need to be now!
Thanks, the geography of birdcage movements is interesting, but the birdcage movements with the turned brass corner posts seem even more localised. Even though I have now turned up a picture of one in West Yorkshire c1700 by Sam Ogden, and one by Jn Taylor of Bath, I have found 6 examples from 5 different makers in Wiltshire, plus Bath is just over the border from Wiltshire - here is the link for that one : link

I have been recommended to read English 30 Hour Clocks by Darken and Hooper, but its expensive, more expensive than buying clocks!

Steve
 

SAR

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I have a North Devon movement signed John Cole of Barnstaple & have seen another signed M Cole of Barnstaple, Mary I think.

My movement & the Mary Cole movement have turned pillars but I have seen birdcage flat pillar movements by both makers.
Even further West, thanks. I am going to have to get a map and start sticking pins in it.

Steve
 

SAR

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I have a North Devon movement signed John Cole of Barnstaple & have seen another signed M Cole of Barnstaple, Mary I think.

My movement & the Mary Cole movement have turned pillars but I have seen birdcage flat pillar movements by both makers.
Have found another Devon example by George Gould of South Molton c1790, very close to Barnstaple. I am going to have to start examining the details of these and see how they differ.
 

Mike Phelan

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Even more interesting to see birdcage movoement from as far west as Devon. The John Taylor one from Bath (where I came from!) is very much like mine apart from having a pin holding the count wheel in - ours has a cut on either side of the post and the spring is slotted.
 

SAR

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Wow, thats brilliant. I really am sticking pins in a map - albeit an 18th century digitised map, and will have to post it up here in due course. So we now have Torrington, Tiverton, and Exeter to add to the ones from Barnstaple and South Molton, plus Bath, Bristol, and several from Wiltshire - and one odd man out from West Yorkshire. So this looks like a regional style. I wonder if that is because it is passed from master to apprentice, or if it comes from the dictats of clockmakers guilds. Why put such effort into turning columns that are invisible to the owner, as I don't think these clocks generally had side windows to reveal the movement ?

Hopefully we will find some more.

Steve
 

novicetimekeeper

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Charles Gretton made one too, so London can be added but rather earlier. I did have an M Cole of bridgewater but that was not round posts.

The round posts are a follow on from Lantern clocks, so they tend to come from where Lantern clocks were made. That's why you don't really see them in the North. Bristol was big on Lantern clocks but also on the supply of parts to makers in Wessex area, and these posts are a specialised product.

These posts are not the same as lantern clock posts, they tend to be thinner.
 

SAR

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Charles Gretton made one too, so London can be added but rather earlier. I did have an M Cole of bridgewater but that was not round posts.

The round posts are a follow on from Lantern clocks, so they tend to come from where Lantern clocks were made. That's why you don't really see them in the North. Bristol was big on Lantern clocks but also on the supply of parts to makers in Wessex area, and these posts are a specialised product.

These posts are not the same as lantern clock posts, they tend to be thinner.
Thats interesting stuff. I didn't know lantern clocks were largely from a specific region of UK - I thought they were made everywhere. If there was a regional supplier of posts ready made for lantern clocks in this area, then maybe he came up with the idea of ready made turned birdcage posts at a price attractive to the the birdcage clock makers. Its certainly not a case of using up some lantern clock posts that were lying around, it went on too long, and you see the early ones with rings and the later ones without rings.

Bristol was the centre for brass foundries from the early 18th Century, so a good location from which to manufacture and supply brass clock parts. Spandrels spring to mind as well. Do we know who were the suppliers of such parts? I find it fascinating how this all worked back in the days before railways, canals, and telephones. I bet commerce was every bit as complicated, just a bit slower.

Steve
 

SAR

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Mar 8, 2021
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Coming out of left field here, but could that first character on the bottom be an ampersand?
Not sure I see that, but could be. I might have to compare with other engravings, maybe I can work out more of the letters. The previous owner said based on case style the clock might be Welsh ! So that complicated matters! Also I see clockmakers use some unusual abbreviations for place names, so clocks made in Exeter for example may have Exum on them. Its going to be pretty tricky to wotk this one out.
 

SAR

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Mar 8, 2021
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Think this map (which is c1685 and public domain) has captured with the blue stars where the birdcage movement with turned brass corner posts mentioned above have come from (we have 2 outliers, Ripponden in Yorkshire and one in London, which are on my copy of the full map). No doubt there are a lot more examples out there. Hopefully with a bit more digging I will be able to post an updated map.

MapExtract.jpg
 

SAR

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Mar 8, 2021
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I have some more reports of these birdcage movements with turned pillars :

One from Hilperton, Wiltshire for sale on-line, with finned/ringled columns so fairly early

And these reported from looking through Darken & Hooper's book on 30 hour long case clocks :

William Monk of Berwick St John, Wiltshire,
James Roper of Shelton Mallet, Somerset,
William Townley of Bourton and Temple, Somerset,
Dennis Chambers, Pucklechurch, Gloucestershire,
Henry Lintott, Surrey,
Richard Savage, Wenlock Magna, Shropshire

I haven't seen the book to confirm these are not lantern clock transplants or hybrids - the Richard Savage one is probably one of these as I have seen a photo of it in an article, and it has the square washers between the columns and the top plate, like a lantern clock. I will reserve judgement on the rest until I see the book, but the emphasis is again on the west country.
 

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