Questions about this P. Barns & Co. wooden works. clock

Discussion in 'Wood Movement Clocks' started by R. Croswell, Jun 30, 2015.

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  1. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    This one followed me home from a local estate auction last night. I've never encountered this maker before and there are a few things that seem a bit strange. Palmer's book lists Phillip Barnes & Company, Bristol from 1836-1837 so they probably didn't make a huge number of clocks. The issues and questions are these:

    1. The print behind glass in the door looks quite old. The glass is not as wavy as one would expect but may have been replaced. How likely is it that this print is original to the clock?

    2. The door has this nice old porcelain know and a thick leather "outhouse button" to hold the door shut. The inside of the door frame has a metal plate that looks to be lock (I have not removed it to see what's behind it yet) but oddly there is no sign of a keyhole on the front side of the door, and no opening in the side of the case to accept a lock blade. The metal has been coated with whatever finish is on the door so I suspect that the clock, or at least the door may have been refinished. I'm sure it's been this way for a long time but something here does not seem right. Any ideas?

    3. Using Snowden Taylor's spreadsheet it looks like the movement is closest to the 4.1 unknown maker. I did not see P. Barns & Co. listed. There is a cut in the upper left corner of the front plate presumably to allow placing the count lever during assembly. I've seen such cuts before on movements listed on eBay and have assumed that they were made by some clock repairer who couldn't figure how to reassemble the movement. Was this just a common practice with some repairers, or did someone actually make movements this way? If it is original I want to leave it that way. If not, then I'm open to suggestions as to how to restore it. The movement does not fit close to the weight chutes so unless someone has a clock like this, or additional references, I'm not sure whether this is the original movement or not.

    Someone has drilled all the way through the spools to attach new cord so that will need to be fixed. The ratchet looks like perhaps it will need a tooth replaced, and there is a group of replaced teeth on the strike main wheel that are falling out. Looks like the click may be falling out with those teeth so a little work needed there. A couple other broken teeth but overall a fairly clean movement. Will probably need a couple bushings. Now if can only find time!

    Thanks for any suggestions and information.

    RC
     

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  2. George Nelson

    George Nelson Registered User
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    Hi, R. Croswell and All,

    A most interesting clock indeed! I can't help with your questions, but I can share a bit of info that might be interesting to you. Your clock exhibits a VERY early use of the coiled gong. If original, it would decidedly help to date your clock to 1837. Ken Robert's cites in what I remember to be the first of his books on Ives and his clocks that the coiled gong was patented in 1838. I don't know how long patents took to be approved in those days, but use of the gong a year before the patent is most certainly plausible. Also, the use of this gong would represent a higher priced clock when originally sold, as when first introduced, the gongs were pricey for their time. Hope you find this of interest.

    Best to all,

    George Nelson
     
  3. George Nelson

    George Nelson Registered User
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    PS: I just noticed that there appears to be a wood backing to the picture on the lower tablet. If this wood is original, it indicates to me that the clock would have originally had a mirror instead of an image. If this is the case, it would be in keeping with the higher original selling price of the piece, as mirrors, when first introduced, were of higher cost than were paintings or transfers. Also, original mirrors of this vintage were often replaced as they had a tendency to tarnish and peel. -George
     
  4. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    The gong does look old but I noticed it has a square base and is not lined up exactly true. When I get started on this one I can remove the gong base and see is there is a screw hole where a bell may have been. I assume that it is just an early gong. I just don't know about the picture and if something like that may have been used in 1837. I don't see anything that says expensive about this clock (except that I paid $50 over what I planned to spend to get it). The splat and other top parts seem to be thinner than some, but am keeping an open mind. Perhaps we will hear from an owner of a similar Barnes clock to compare.

    RC
     
  5. George Nelson

    George Nelson Registered User
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    Hi, RC.

    I have an 1838 Barnes and Bartholomew early triple decker brass movement clock with the same original gong base, also rather sloppily installed. Perhaps the makers were not used to this "new" product, and did not pay attention to their installations. Time will tell (pun intended) when you remove the gong and see if there is that telltale single hole underneath. Let us know...

    Relating to the original selling price of the clock, most often it was the features of the clock rather than the basic case construction that determined price- (IE: alarms, extensive case stenciling, carved splat, lower tablet, etc.).
    As for your picture, my limited experience tells me that the common types of glass decoration at that time were gold stencil, mirrors, reverse painting or transfers (just beginning use in the mid-to-late 1830's). I've never seen an original paper or printed decoration in these types of antique clock. Your print, however, does appear to me to be very old. In that era (1837) color printing would be rare and costly. From Wikipedia:: "George Baxter patented in 1835 a method using an intaglio line plate (or occasionally a lithograph), printed in black or a dark color, and then overprinted with up to twenty different colors from woodblocks," so the possibility exists that the print could be original. IMO most likely the print, if 1830's vintage, would be hand colored. You can easily check with a magnifying glass. The colors would run slightly over their borders. If woodblock printed, the various colors would be smooth and overlap slightly. If printed (circular colored dots of red, blue and yellow), you would know that the print could not be of 1830's vintage. Let us know your thoughts and discoveries! George
     
  6. Fitzclan

    Fitzclan Registered User

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    Hi RC - This arrived today at my home. Look familiar? Obviously the bottom tablet is not original but the style is almost exact.
    i have taken some photos but I have unfortunately to go to Agrington for a funeral tomorrow and don't halve time to get into the particulars for a few days.
    I too thought the splat to be thin and possibly not original, but who knows?
    L&F Andrews in business at about the same time, 1836 -1843 I think.
     

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  7. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    Here are some close ups of the print as best as I can get through the glass. What do you think? Does not look to be "printed (circular colored dots of red, blue and yellow)" so perhaps it is period even if not original? I have not seen a signature on the print. Perhaps there will be other clues if I remove it and check behind the matt and on the back. It does seem to be a rather nice print.

    Fitzclan, both of our clocks are likely from the same period and have similar half-column and splat cases with "terry style" 1-day wooden movements. This was a common style at that time but yours has different movement (note the count hook opening) and a raised decoration on the splat, and obviously a different maker. Still both are a part of the same "family". They are nice clocks and decent time keepers.

    RC
     

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  8. George Nelson

    George Nelson Registered User
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    Hi, RC. Well, your most helpful close-ups of the print answers the question, at least for me. Especially apparent in the picture of the ivy leaves are definite examples of over painting with the green watercolor. I've copied and notated the appropriate photo below. Hand coloring of prints was widely practiced in the early to mid 19th century, so we are right on the mark with the date of your clock. When you get around to removing the print for close inspection, you might hold it an angle in the light to look for watermarks. Often early antique prints were made using handmade paper bearing watermarks or counter-marks. The watermark could be images, names with dates or abbreviations of the paper-makers, made by placing a wire shape against the paper mold. Many of today's quality stationary papers are watermarked, and any watermark offers clues as to dates, manufacturer or country of origin. Hope this helps. -George
     

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  9. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    Very interesting indeed. So if the picture is period, perhaps it was original to this clock?

    Perhaps of interest, I purchased this clock from Nelson Auction Gallery here in Trappe, MD.

    Thanks for the helpful info.

    RC
     
  10. George Nelson

    George Nelson Registered User
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    Hi, RC. IMO, the picture is period. As to originality, we would have to see pictures of how it is secured within the clock door. I don't believe that putty would have been used on a paper tablet decoration, so that leaves wood strips. I know you said that the glass may have been changed, but how is the picture and wood backing secured? Is it with original looking wood strips or with original looking nails? I believe that in that time period, most nails were square and hand cut. Let us know. -George
     
  11. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    Both the upper glass and the lower glass are retained by wood strips. The strips are old and seem likely to be original to that door. The upper strips appear to have old nails that have not been disturbed but without removing them is hard to tell just what they are. The bottom strips have obviously been removed at some point and replaced using tacks with large heads and are not driven in all the way. The wood backing has saw cut marks but is not as dark or aged as one would expect. As mentioned earlier, I believe the lower glass was replaced at some time. That of course leaves the question of whether the print replaced an original mirror, or if the print is original and remounted behind a new glass. At least we know the print is old and perhaps as old as the clock.

    I'm still puzzled by the door closure and what appears to be a metal lock in the door frame but no keyhole on the front side. The door fits well but I can't help wonder if the door is from another clock, or if my clock suffered more damage than just a broken glass at some point and perhaps a different door, or pieces from a different door, was fitted. Just can't figure out what's going on here with the door fastener and that little white knob.....never seen a picture of a clock with this arrangement. Hopefully someone will have a picture of another P. Barns to compare.

    RC
     

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  12. rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

    rmarkowitz1_cee4a1 Registered User
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    #12 rmarkowitz1_cee4a1, Jul 2, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2015
    Thanks for posting your clock.

    It has garnered much interest and generated a nice discussion which is gratifying to see.

    It's sometimes tricky to assess something from pix (and you've posted good ones). So within those limitations, I hope you don't mind that I offer some responses to your queries...in no particular order and some of this will be a bit repetitive but it's with a desire to consolidate and summarize what has already been stated.

    The image in the bottom door appears to me to be a hand colored lithograph. Lithography was invented by Alois Senefelder in the late 1790's. There were a number of US firms that mass produced them from the 1830's or '40's into the dawn of 20th century when cheaper and less labour intensive methods of image printing were developed. They included some famous ones like N. Currier, Currier and Ives and the various Kellogg firms. The lesser images like this one were hand colored with a just a few transparent colored washes, often just green and blue, sometimes red, applied in basically an assembly line type fashion. Usually they were pretty, inexpensive, had an amazing variety of images based upon popular sentiments or current events or whatever that appealed to just about every taste. They were intended for the masses. I believe that the image in your clock is one of the sentimental ones (the pretty little angelic boy with his faithful friend) from the 1840's, possibly later. These usually have a printer's credit and a date! If the litho hasn't been glued or shellacked to the glass AND it hasn't been trimmed (as they often were; these were considered cheap things and trimming was often done) you may be able to remove it and find that information. Is it original? Doubt it very much. By the way, Forestville used these litho's on the inner backboards of their sleigh front clocks. A decorative way to seal out the dust.

    The backing board in the door looks too new and appears to be retained by wire nails. I believe that the upper glass would have been puttied in.

    The door looks to me to have been reworked, rebuilt or replaced with stain or paint or varnish covering everything . Can't say for sure. The porcelain knob is a typical later Victorian one. I have had clocks where the lock or latch was gone and at some time in its life it was replaced with a later pull which includes those little porcelain ones. If everything else looked right, that wouldn't bother me.

    Some late ww clocks had gongs. Look at the back side of the backboard and see if there's a hole indicating there was once a bell. You can also remove the current gong and see if was there.

    The columns and splat would have been stenciled. It may be hiding under all of that old finish. If still there, a definite plus.

    Enjoy your old American clock!

    RM
     
  13. George Nelson

    George Nelson Registered User
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    R. Croswell and RM,

    For what it's worth, I concur completely. After seeing the closeups of the strips and nails, I believe RM to be spot on. His dating information on the print matches my research of last night. RC, you have a wonderful clock, and is a fine example of one that must have been treasured in its time.

    I have a pillar and scroll that had been in the same family for years. It has been repaired over the years, and to me I would not change anything. To me, it represents a treasured family artifact that has a unique history. It survived both a fire and a fall, and the original owning family loved it enough to have it professionally repaired at least twice. Sadly, I don't know many details about its long history, other than it was loved.

    Enjoy your clock, continue to research, and treasure it as it once was.

    RM, your insights and valuable information so freely shared are always welcome and most informative. I know we all appreciate it!

    Best to All,

    George Nelson
     
  14. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    Thanks RM and George. It seems clear that over nearly 200 years this old girl has seen a lot. I believe whatever may have been done concerning the door and the print must have been quite some time ago. When I get time to dig into this one I will remove the print and see what secrets it may reveal. The matt appears to have kept it off of the glass so it should come out OK. I don't plan to change that part as it has become a part of this clock's long life.

    Any thoughts about the cutout at the upper right corner of the movement? If it was made this way I would leave it alone but if it's just a sloppy repair scar I would like to fill it in. These old woodies are enjoyable (this is #5) but remembering to wind them every day is a challenge. Heck, at my age remembering anything is starting to be a challenge!

    RC
     
  15. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    Progress made - questions still remain.

    I did remove the wood backing behind the print (see photo) but the print appears entirely too fragile to try to remove. It appears to perhaps be glued to the mat. The wood was thin single layer, old but probably not as old as the clock. Wood strips were held by carpet tacks not driven up, but the wood strips do look very old. So I am inclined to believe that the print is probably very old but not necessarily original to the clock. At least it appears to have been removed and replaced at some point.

    The door does indeed have a lock but no keyhole. There is evidence that some veneer has been replaced on the door and likely someone just veneered over the keyhole. I have no idea why one would do that.

    The pendulum appears to be quite old and likely original.

    It looks like the clock has been refinished but not recently. For now, I just cleaned it up and glued a couple loose parts. Someday I may refinish it as there is no issue about preserving the original finish.

    I could see no reason for the gash in the upper left of the front movement plate so I filled it in with old wood from a scrap plate. My guess was that someone who didn't know to assemble these on the front plate to facilitate placing the count lever. Actually this is a rather easy movement to assemble. The strike main wheel was a wreck. It had one section of 5 teeth replaced, and another section of 5 made up of 3 next to 2. Glued with something between rubber cement and bubble gum! I tried to save the parts and reglue but no way. The tooth shapes and spacings were just too far off. So replaced 10 teeth in two groups of 5. A previous repair on the time side main wheel and a couple others were checked and left as found. Pivot holes had graphite but I still had to reverse pivots on several wheels. Pivot holes were just a little too sloppy so pretty much all the pivot holes were bushed using Delrin-AF. The T3 wheel was rather out of round and the T4 pinion was pretty used up and took some effort to get a smooth meshing. Other than that a pretty typical job getting the movement running.

    The movement is back in the case but there is between 3/16'-1/8" space on each side of the movement. I put non-metallic spacers over the mounting pins. This causes me to wonder if perhaps this is not the original movement. So far I have been unable to identify the movement maker, and have seen no reference suggesting who's movements P. Barnes may have used.

    The gong base was removed and no sign that this clock ever had a bell. It is a rough primitive casting. The gong does have a deep pleasant sound and is likely original.

    Everything is back in the case and the clock has been running strong for the past 24 hours. Not a museum piece but and interesting clock and maker. I plan to put it in my office.

    RC
     

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  16. abe

    abe Registered User

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    Hi, nice clock. I hope it is still running and keeping good time.

    Can I ask you where you got the clock? The picture of the girl and dog looks very familiar. My dad had a lot of clocks, tall case (that I now have), banjos, shelf clocks, and wooden works clocks. He sold everything in 2003 after my mother died. Your clock looks like one he had. Now maybe the picture of the girl was a popular print, but something about the porcelain knob looks familiar too. My Dad lived in Lancaster County, PA.
     
  17. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    Could be, Lancaster Co. is probably only a couple hours away. The clock was part of an estate sale at Nelson Auction Gallery in Trappe, Md. I don't know who's estate it was from. They often sell items from several estates in the same sale.
     

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