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My new McCabe carriage/mantel clock

zedric

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Well, I started a new job this week, so to celebrate I bought a new clock (and sold two others to make space, this one is 10 1/4 inches tall)... The clock is by the firm of James McCabe, although by the time it was made the founder of the company was long gone. McCabe made quite a number of clocks in this general design for the Indian market, and judging by the plaque that came with this one, it was given as a gift in India, maybe when it was already second hand..

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My clock does not have a carrying handle, and the style of the gong suggests a mantel clock more than a carriage clock, but it does have a lever escapement, which means it is suitable for moving from one location to another easily. I'll need to have a look when it arrives, but many of these had maintaining power.. My clock is a little more plain than this version, which was sold at Bonhams in 2016, and this one does have a carrying handle..


It appears that the design of these two clocks is part of a series that turned into the more famous canted corner style used by McCabe later in the 1800s for his carriage clocks - initially by swapping over the corner decoration for the canted corners and scrolls, and then by adding a handle to make a full on carriage clock design.




I'll post more photos when it arrives, but it might take a while for it to get here from Canada. Given how heavy it is, I'm not looking forward to the freight bill.
 
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Ralph

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Very nice.... looking forward to more pictures.

Ralph
 

WIngraham

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A beautiful clock, I was watching it slowly climb in price before auction. I am sure it will sound great, the gong is huge for such a small clock. The details are very nice. Enjoy the new clock and job!

Will
 

zedric

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Thanks Ralph, Will.. I am looking forward to getting this delivered but am not sure if I’ll get it this side of Christmas. I too was watching the price before auction, and thinking that it would take off at some point, but fortunately for me it didn’t - the last McCabe clock I bid on eventually sold for 10x my top bid. I agree that the gong, which is attached like that on a bracket clock rather than a carriage clock, will probably be pretty loud.. I think there is a strike/silent switch adjacent to the 3, but hidden behind the front door, but that’s something to find out when it arrives.
 

zedric

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While waiting for this to come, I've been looking at on-line listings for similar clocks - there must have been a few made to this basic design (lever escapement carriage-clock type movement, brass case with various ornamentation like those shown above) before McCabe settled on the design he was going to use long term.

However, from other listings it seems that several of the earlier ones like mine have a wooden (oak) frame, onto which the brass elements are attached. I think I can see that in the photos of mine (I had initially assumed that the brass inside the case was oxidised) - for example the picture at the top shows the back door open, and it seems that there is a wooden frame for the back door, and what appears to be a wooden base with beading. I'm looking forward to this arriving to see if there are any other surprises!
 

Christopher Lloyd Owen

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I looked at that door frame, Zedric, with some interest. At first I thought it was leather and rather poorly fitted later to lower the noise from the gong. (Some poor sleeper!) Crude brackets too over what looks like a latch on the frame. And a wobbly cord beading inside pinned in.

But then the whole inner case seems to be wooden. Almost starting with a wooden box, and adding a brass case to the whole in the tradition of wooden clocks, but with a new style outer. It's built a bit like a bracket clock with that shape of plate too.

Very interesting. I can't wait for it to arrive now!
 

zedric

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Hi Christopher

that is exactly what I was thinking - that the case is built much like a bracket clock, on a wooden frame, but with gilt brass outer components... it’ll be interesting to find out when it arrives..
 

Chris Radano

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Congratulations on your fine clock! I think it is a crossover, a small bracket clock and/or a travelling (carriage) clock.
Clock such as these Victorian bracket clocks I've been interested in since I started collecting. The quality attracts me, and some of the case designs were often imitated in the years since. Looks like a nice clock you can enjoy as a daily runner and a timekeeper in your home.
 

zedric

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OK, it got here quicker than I had expected. Unfortunately the keys, including the case key, have not arrived (the auction house has, thankfully, found them and will be sending them on). The case construction is such that you can't take the movement out unless the case is open, and my lock picking skills don't seem to be very effective... I'll have to wait until the auction house posts the key to me before taking the movement out.

As I thought, this does have a wooden carcass, made from what looks to be oak. The brass elements are attached to this via screws. This is the same construction method used in several of these mantle/carriage clocks - the only real difference between the carriage clocks and the mantle clocks is that they have a handle..

The clock has a high quality double fusee movement, with lever escapement. An interesting aspect to this clock is that it has a trip repeat lever, but at the moment no means of operating it other than reaching into the clock with something like a scredriver. I wonder if the side panels originally had glass with a hole in it, through which a string led to the repeat lever.. There doesn't seem to be any holes plugged in the base.

One thing I will say about it is that it is very, very heavy! And large, as can be seen by the comparison to other clocks. The one on the far left, also an english fusee clock, but this time a timepiece, is about the "standard" size for a carriage clock.

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DeanT

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Lucky it survived unscathed the shipping with the movement still inside the case!!!

Very nice looking clock as per usual.

Cheers
Dean
 

Christopher Lloyd Owen

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An interesting aspect to this clock is that it has a trip repeat lever, but at the moment no means of operating it other than reaching into the clock with something like a scredriver. I wonder if the side panels originally had glass with a hole in it, through which a string led to the repeat lever..
If there was no glass, could a cord not just have gone though a convenient hole in the side fretting?

Lovely thing though, Zedric. Breaking a commandment, I covet!
 

zedric

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If there was no glass, could a cord not just have gone though a convenient hole in the side fretting?
That is a possibility - one of the similar clocks had silk backing to the side panels, and that may have been how this started out, although the glass does seem to fit quite well.


Lovely thing though, Zedric. Breaking a commandment, I covet!
It is certainly my new favourite and I never thought I would be able to afford something like this - I was really surprised when the bidding stopped when it did. Now to wait on the key and see what the movement looks like....
 

zedric

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Lucky it survived unscathed the shipping with the movement still inside the case!!!
Hi Dean - yes it was lucky... it didn’t occur to me to ask them to remove the movement, as I’m much more used to shipping carriage clocks where everything is usually screwed down tight with no possibility of moving. In this case the packer included two loose screws (Taped together with masking tape), and I don’t know yet where they came from.
 

Ralph

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Zedric,

It looks like you picked up a nice clock. Yes you were lucky on the safe shipment, but even when you ask to have the movement removed, you might still be dealing with a moron. Many years ago a bought a miniature 4 glass bracket clock from a guy in the UK. I asked for him to remove the movement, which he did. When I saw the postman walking up to the house with the package, I thought, the clock must be smaller then I thought, or it is packed badly. You can guess the answer. It was in what appeared to be a shoebox, with the case and the movement is a single wrap of the small bubble bubble wrap. It bent the dial and knocked off some dental molding, but I was lucky and it went back right, without a lot of trouble.

The case style seems like an elaborated chamfer top case... ??

Ralph

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zedric

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Hi Ralph. Yes, this does have strong similarities to a chamfer top case - but although it is large in comparison to my carriage clocks, it is still very small for a bracket clock - I'll try to get a photo next to my one and only bracket clock for comparison... Also, without the side handles of the chamfer case, the proportions look different to a bracket clock.

Having had a chance to look at a few of this style of clock (I've found examples by three different makers so far), it is interesting how changing just a couple of elements of the case design (changing the quoined sides for chamfered sides, replacing the front decoration with a freeze showing a lion/tiger and a snake, or adding a handle to the top) can make them look quite different.
 

zedric

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Christopher Lloyd Owen

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I still covet, Zedric. It certainly has a presence. The flat spandrels and simplified top have an austerity which is nicely balanced by the curve of the bun feet. More close-ups please!
 

zedric

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I still covet, Zedric. It certainly has a presence. The flat spandrels and simplified top have an austerity which is nicely balanced by the curve of the bun feet. More close-ups please!
Here is a better close up of the dial and front of the clock. The colour is a reflection of things in the room - it is actually gilt brass all over, but this is highly reflective...
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As you can see, the dial is painted and has some damage. The clock does't have a strike / silent option which I had thought it might, but the gong does have a nice (loud) sound.

The case is still a bit of an enigma as to how the brass panels are attached, but this may be clearer once I can get the movement out. And while the case is in generally good condition, it does need gentle restoration by people more skilled than me!

I think I have figured out how to get the movement out, which does not need the key as I had first thought. I think it should be a simple matter of removing the gong, unscrewing the bolts attaching the movement to the L-shaped pieces (one of these bolts appears to have an Allen key head, so is a replacement), and then gently easing the L-shaped pieces out before the movement can be taken out of the case. But I haven't yet had the courage to do so, in case I am missing something about how the L-shaped pieces are attached to the oak frame - I had thought they were bolted in behind outer the brass panels, which meant that these would need to be removed first, but they do not appear to be.. More investigation to be done..
 

Christopher Lloyd Owen

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In other words like removing the movement from normal bracket clocks. Very often the brackets only have steel studs in the brass which fit into the wood of the case, so when you unscrew them from the clock they may well just fall out ... so keep a finger on them. Also it's unlikely you'd need a key to take the movement out .

What is the stamp on the larger gong block in the auction house picture?
 

Christopher Lloyd Owen

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I'd add that the two screws in the sides of the back are probably necessary to come out, and obviously remove the glass and back door for safety. The fourth quoin down on the right looks as though looks as though it may have a steadying stud in it as well. You may seen signs of others if you look closely, although I can't see any in your pictures so far.

Happy reverse jigsaw puzzling!
 

zedric

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In other words like removing the movement from normal bracket clocks. Very often the brackets only have steel studs in the brass which fit into the wood of the case, so when you unscrew them from the clock they may well just fall out ... so keep a finger on them. Also it's unlikely you'd need a key to take the movement out .

What is the stamp on the larger gong block in the auction house picture?
The stamp is "GB" in a rectangle.

The fixture is similar to a normal bracket clock, but usually the studs from the L shaped pieces go clear through the case, and there is a screw head visible from the outside. In this case, I was thinking that the screw heads were hidden under the brass casing, to tidy the look up, but so far i can see no evidence of this, and I think that the stud may just be pushed into a hole drilled into the oak carcass.

I'd add that the two screws in the sides of the back are probably necessary to come out, and obviously remove the glass and back door for safety. The fourth quoin down on the right looks as though looks as though it may have a steadying stud in it as well. You may seen signs of others if you look closely, although I can't see any in your pictures so far.

Happy reverse jigsaw puzzling!
I took these screws out yesterday, thinking that something must come loose, but no such luck. I think the quoins were originally pinned in place, but someone has since soldered them to the brass, and that may be causing problems in removing the brass outer to the case.
 

zedric

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OK Christopher - here are some close ups with the movement taken out. The one thing I forgot, and am kicking myself for as I have now put the movement back, is to take photos of the escapement. However, it is pretty close to the one shown in this, slightly earlier, clock, and can be seen in part in one of the photos...


Everything is there, in place, and when I wound the clock one click it fired up, with quite a loud ticking. But it does need a service and some restoration of the dial where the paint is flaking and rusting at the lower edge, and the case needs some work.

As expected, it has 5 pillars (the one at the bottom beween the barrels is not seen in the photos).

In this photo you can see the trip repeat (to the right) and a maker's number to the movement (10173). The number on the key, 1865, which is the McCabe sequence number for this clock, does not seem to be on the movement anywhere I can see so far. The McCabe number 1865 should date the clock to somewhere in the 1830s, probably just after 1835 if people's guesswork about McCabe's numbering is correct.

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zedric

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Movement sides

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And back

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zedric

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Case interior, showing the wooden carcass and some bad old repair work

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The nuts in the corners are what is holding the quoin decoration to the front of the case

The front lock is removed. The bezel is now glued in place rather than screwed

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zedric

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I hope these are of interest - as well as this there is some lettering on the back of the dial that I didn't get a good photo of, and couldn't read.

A final picture showing a little bit of the escapement and the ratchet for the maintaining power...

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Christopher Lloyd Owen

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These are fascinating - thank you. I can't answer now, but may contact you privately later today ....