Nathaniel Hedge of Colchester c. 1755 oak long case

NigelW

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Thanks to a tip off from Novicetimekeeper I am now the proud owner of this clock. Outrageously inexpensive for what it is, in my opinion - £210 hammer plus buyer's premium - barely more than the scrap value of the brass.

I believe the movement, dial and case to be right, but one can never know for certain. The case (will post better pictures later) has been through the wars with extensive evidence of woodworm, a replaced plinth, some replaced mouldings and some extra finals etc added on top, but otherwise entirely consistent with contemporary cases illustrated in Mason's book on Colchester clocks. The dial (very heavy) has a little crack next to the date aperture and a mysterious bit of what looks like linseed oil putty near that which could be masking something, but the back looks as clean as a whistle. The date wheel and post look later, as they often are, the weights don't match each other, the pendulum bob has been painted with gold paint, the hands with black gloss. The minute hand is much patched up and I am guessing is not original. Curiously the little engraved sun about the signature looks like it might have had red wax in it, not black.

Only just got home and taken some snaps. More will follow.

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novicetimekeeper

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Looks like a bargain to me, congratulations. I'm using an old pair of glasses while I await new ones so my eyesight is not great but I like what I see especially at that price.

Red wax was definitely a thing you see it a fair bit though it is uncommon. the hands I think repaired rather than replaced. I have noticed quite a few provincial clocks seem to have very flat uncarved hands.
 

novicetimekeeper

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What did you decide about the top once you saw it in person?
 

rstl99

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Hi Nigel,
Congratulations on the nice project you acquired, for what seems a very very good price.

Definitely a lot of learning opportunities await you, discovering the intricacies of the clock and piecing out its history of repairs and modifications.
But at its heart it remains a product of Nathaniel (3) Hedge, (John Smorthwait's son-in-law), and was built in the shop previously occupied by (and possibly using some of the tools owned by) Smorthwait before he died in 1739. Nathaniel's own son Nathaniel (4) started learning the craft in 1749 and may have worked on part of your clock. I own a watch movement signed by Nathaniel (4) and Banister. These Colchester connections are enjoyable to map out. Honest people producing good quality timepieces in that very old town, some of which still endure today and occasionally fall into hands of loving owners who will care for them, and one day pass them on to the next owner in better condition.

Anyway, it's nice to see your Hedge long-case clock, and my Smorthwait lantern clock, occupy some space on this forum close together.

Enjoy your new clock, a wonderful project in perspective.
--Robert
 

NigelW

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What did you decide about the top once you saw it in person?
The hood is still in my car but from memory the cresting is nailed onto the edges of the boards which form the top. The horn like pieces are rough on top suggesting there was something more there before which snapped off. The three finials are turned wood, painted with gold paint. The moulding over the arch is also painted with gold paint, hence its paler colour. I don't think the finials and cresting belong, but I will keep an open mind when I examine it more closely.
 

DeanT

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Lovely dial and super cheap....enjoy the restoration.
 

NigelW

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The case is going to need some sorting out.

Everything below the lower curved moulding is new. Not such a problem in itself (in spite of the use blockboard and PVA glue) but it has not been attached straight. In my experience of restoring furniture the most difficult part is not making replacement bits or putting it back together again but taking it apart in the first place without damaging it further. This plinth will have to come off and be re-attached - tricky given the fragile state of some of the moulding.

The back except the missing bit at the bottom is elm and a bit worm eaten (I have just treated it).

The hinges and lock look old, but the lock is not in its original position, if it is original.

The hood has had some mouldings replaced (one in mahogany) and the curved moulding over the door has been painted in gold paint. It is nevertheless oak and I will need to do some research to see it if is the the right profile and hence possibly original.

The oddest feature of the case is the what happens above the top moulding. Whatever it was it is clearly incomplete (it also came with three turned wooden finials, painted gold) as there are rough edges where parts must have broken off. My guess is there was a fretted swan neck pediment, probably of later date than the original clock.

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novicetimekeeper

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I think it should be a flat top. I don't think any of the stuff above the flat top should be there and the planked top is wrong too. The lock is old but not original as you say, that I'd keep.

Isn't the plinth solid oak? Doesn't look like blockboard.

You sound like you know what to do, if you need an expert I know one in Oxford.

For me the top needs sorting but I could live with the rest. You could sort that, do the dial and movement, you would have a very attractive clock that is easy to live with until you want to spend more time and money on it.
 

NigelW

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These pics are all from Mason's book on Colchester clocks, of the 1750s, which gives me some confidence that the case is on the right lines.

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novicetimekeeper

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It could be missing a loose caddy, but it will look right as a flat top and it might be difficult to match the oak otherwise.
 

NigelW

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Isn't the plinth solid oak? Doesn't look like blockboard.
The front and sides of the plinth are solid oak. Blockboard has been used at the back to add the extra width. The lower moulding is clearly not at right angles to the sides or parallel to the bottom of the door but the main question is whether the trunk leans relative to the plinth. I think it does but haven't checked. It's now safely locked away in my storage unit half an hour from where I live so I will have to wait until my next visit.

The wooden planks on the top of the hood seem to have been there for a long time given that they have shrunk and separated and the nails look like they might be old too.
 

novicetimekeeper

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The rose cut nails on the lock suggest there was an early restoration predating the plinth, perhaps the top came then.

It's a really good buy regardless of the work that needs doing.
 
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NigelW

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Just taken off the backcock to look at the pallets. The pallet arbor is a nice robust piece of work - a square shaft at the back where it is pinned to the crutch (also a nicely forged piece), tapered, then turned, and tapered again. The pallets have been reshoed but the added shoes have worn right through.

A lazy restorer has adjusted the depth of the pallets by removing the pins from the backcock and opening up the screw holes (the same was done to my little Victorian skeleton clock). I think I will put back the pins and build up the pallets as necessary with new shoes to get the correct depth.

The bell stand, in wrought iron, is a lovely piece of blacksmith's work to my eye; simple, functional and elegant.

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NigelW

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Thoughts about the hood top

Ingoring the twiddly bits on the very top, the top moulding of the hood seems incomplete:

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A simple cornice would normally have a scotia (quarter round hollow), then a square, then a cyma recta:

cyma_recta_22007_md.gif

This last piece could be missing, which may account for the fact that the planks forming the top are higher than the last piece of cornice rather than flush or slightly lower (one would expect the top to be fitted into a rebate behind the top piece of moulding).

This Hedge clock, in a grander mahogany case, has the scotia, square and cyma recta, then on top of that it has a caddy. Whether or not mine had a caddy is a different question, but either way it seems to me that the cornice should be completed.

Hedge clock sold at clevedon.jpg

The mahogany Hedge, in a smarter case and better condition, sold last year for £580 plus commission - another bargain I feel.
 
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NigelW

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I showed the dial and movement to Francis Brodie, my tutor, on Monday. He agreed that they probably began life together and pointed out a number of features which would have been old-fashioned for that date in a London clock but which provincial movements often still had, in particular the five pillars and the narrow pinions. Colchester is only 50 miles from London - a couple of days travel at most (45 minutes by train today) but new trends must have been slow to catch on then.
 

novicetimekeeper

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Additional pillars are usually taken as a sign of quality rather than age or fashion, though I agree they were more common on London clocks.They were often robbed out too by later clock repairers.
 

novicetimekeeper

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My latest bracket had traces of red wax on the mock pendulum bob, so it has been rewaxed in red.Almost all the red wax I have seen has been on engravings of the sun, and presumably that's the connection with the bob. I've seen a handful of clocks with red wax half hour markers.
 
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NigelW

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My clock club finally reopened yesterday with suitable social distancing, mask wearing etc.

Took the opportunity to take apart the movement. It's all quite dirty but pretty much original as far as I can see, other than the wheel which engages with the date ring. The pallets have been reshoed and then worn through again and some of the pivot holes could do with rebushing. Otherwise it seems just fine.

The detailing is quite charming - I especially like the shaping of the ratchet click and the rack - all invisible when the movement is assembled and in its case but it shows that the craftsmen in those days took pride in their work.

details.jpg
 
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P.Hageman

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So, thats a nice clock! I always thought Hedge was a fine clockmaker, seems to have been very prolific. I have seen several clocks made by him and imho always very good made and good looking.
 

wspohn

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I also like the simple elegance of a flat top case (even though obsessiveness prevents me from removing even a loose caddy if one is present and presumed original).

Love the dial - very nice score/project!
 

daveR

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Hi Nigel I am also watching with interest to see how you finish up with this project. The dial should come a treat epecially after you deal with the hands. Although going on the news that is coming here from the UK, if you want any more advice from your clock group you may have to move quickly before the covid overtakes you once more. We have had no meetings or workshops since march:(
 

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