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Robin a Paris: History and Possible Repair of an Old Clock from My Grandmother

robinelise

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Apr 30, 2015
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Hello! My name is Robin and as a small child, I noticed this clock was named Robin too. I was very pleased by this and so my grandmother told me I could have it one day. Now it is mine and I want to take very good care of it because she told me it has been in our family for a long time.

It comes with the legend that it was thrown out of a second-story window by General Sherman's troops and rescued, repaired, and returned by family slaves. I am not proud of this story but hope it means that the men and/or women who found it thought enough of my ancestors to do such a kind thing for them. The marble is indeed patched in several places.

A long time ago, my grandmother took this to a clock repair shop to be fixed. The owner told her it was a valuable clock and mimeographed some information for her. I can find similar clocks on the Internet but do not know if this particular clock was really made by Robert Robin. I am attaching a picture in case anyone can help. I don't mind if it's not but would like to know because if it's not, I can stop worrying about it so much! :rolleyes:

I also would like to take the clock to be repaired as it the glass door no longer stays shut. I am wondering if anyone has any advice about a safe place to go for this. Would I take it to a clock repair shop or to a fine metal repair shop?

Anyway, sorry for the long post. This is all the info I have.

THANK YOU,

Robin (Charleston, SC)

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JTD

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Sep 27, 2005
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Welcome!

Baillie lists Robert Robin (b. 1742, d. 1809) working in Paris, clockmaker to Louis XV and XVI. He made some very fine clocks.

Baillie also lists another Robin, without listing a forename, working in Paris about 1790-1825, who was clockmaker to Louis XVIII. He also made fine clocks.

It would be very helpful to have some pictures of the movement and that might enable a better identification to be made by those who are more expert in French clocks than I.

The repairs to the marble are certainly not obvious in the pictures you have posted, so it seems they were done very well. Whether or not the family story is true, it is a lovely, fine quality clock and a wonderful family heirloom.

JTD
 

Chris Radano

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Feb 18, 2004
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Hello, Your clock to me looks like late 18th c. Here is a link to a similar clock, where you can note similarities of the hands, dial, pendulum, etc.:

http://www.anticoantico.com/l_eng/scheda_articolo_main.asp?ID=88086

Looks like at least cosmetically your clock is a good example, and had an easy life as it should have. ;) The door issue you describe is very common for this type of clock. I would take it to a reputable clock repair specialist. The movements of Paris clocks were high quality, and with regular maintenance should be available for others to enjoy for years to come.
 

jmclaugh

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Jun 1, 2006
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Hi Robin and welcome to the MB. An interesting story about the clock's past and I'm not surprised you were and are so pleased to have a clock with your name on it. It is a lovely high quality clock and it does look to be late 18th or early 19th C. As JTD says some photos of the movement would be very interesting to see and may well help with identification.

Loomes lists a number of Paris based makers with the name Robin. It would of course be wonderful if the clock is by a maker as celebrated as Robert Robin but in addition to the Robins posted by JTD other possible candidates look to be:

Robin (no forename) - Galeries du Louvre 1780s-circa 1900 'Horologer du Roy'.
Robin Jean Joseph - son of and successor to Robert Robin, circa 1810 died 1858.
Robin Joseph Rue St Honore 1807-1817
 

Talyinka

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May 14, 2011
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Very nice clock indeed. As mentioned it would be good to see some good photos of the movement and pendulum - do you have the original key? If so, of that as well.

What you don't want is to take the clock to your average corner shop clock and key maker. It should be serviced and conserved by a specialist in French clocks, of which there are several in this forum.
 

robinelise

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Apr 30, 2015
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Dear kind souls,

Thank you all for taking the time to try to help me. This is an exciting mystery. Before today I had no idea what a movement was or how to find it. But with you help I've found it and taken some more photos of everything requested. You can see that it has suffered a good bit, though the decorations on the front help to hide it. The movements seem very plain so perhaps it is not that old after all. I couldn't believe the similarities between the clock from Italy and my grandmother's clock. Wow! The inside of this clock is not signed however. Anyway, please let me know if you think of anything else. Oh, and my father has the original key. He has been pokey about bringing it over. The key is bronze-colored and very sweet.
 

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harold bain

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If you unscrew the nut on the bell, and have a look behind it, you may find a name back there on the movement. It appears your pendulum isn't hooked up properly, it should attach to the thread near the top of the movement.
 

Tinker Dwight

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Oct 11, 2010
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There is something wrong with the pendulum hookup.
Removing the bell will give us a better idea of what is wrong
so do take a picture, even if there is no manufacture
stamp there.
It looks like someone modified it at some point.
The movement is typically French.
Many clock movements from this period have no
indication of the manufacture.
Tinker Dwight
 

Tinker Dwight

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Oct 11, 2010
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I was trying to find a good picture of a thread suspension.
Most of these clocks had the thread suspension replaced with
the Brocot suspension. I did find one that should help
some.
Look at Post 1 and 6 of this one:

https://mb.nawcc.org/showthread.php?117984

The manufacture may be different as this basic design
was copied, almost to the point of part exchange.
What is missing is that the top end of the pendulum rod
would just be a inverted V shaped hook. It would
hook onto the thread loop.
Notice that the crutch has a two pronged fork on it.
That would push the pendulum rod/
The crutch is not intended to support the pendulum.
Tinker Dwight
 

Chris Radano

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Feb 18, 2004
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Yes, the movement looks late 18th c. - turn of the 19th c. I wouldn't expect the movement to be signed. You were correct to say the repairs to the columns were hidden from the front. I'm sure there's something than can be done to blend the marble repairs a bit better (there is a clock case repair section of this forum). The dial is in OK condition considering it's age, and it has to be handled when the clock is serviced. I've seen images of many clocks of this type where the dial is severely damaged. Thanks for posting your family heirloom here. :thumb:
 

Talyinka

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May 14, 2011
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This is very definitely the genuine article, from the first half of the 19th century by the looks of it, and a good quality clock to boot (could be as early as 1780). It should be taken to a specialist for repair and conservation. The old repairs should be looked at and, if required, stabilised. As others have mentioned, if you remove the bell we may be able to advise further.
 

robinelise

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Apr 30, 2015
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I have to tell you all, I had no idea this would be so much fun from an engineering perspective. As a girl, it was my job to wind this clock each Sunday after dinner, and I was always timid with it, terrified almost to touch it because it seemed so fancy and I was told, "Never, ever turn the key too far!" I certainly would not have dreamt of picking it up, turning it around, and investigating it -- opening its door (which before this week I did not know existed), much less removing its bell! Now I feel like I am starting to really get to know my old friend and understand how it works, and for that I thank each of you!

Anyway, here is a new round of pictures. Funny thing that surprised the heck out of me: When I took off the bell and removed the pendulum, it began to WORK. First time in several years. Tick tick, tick tock, very quickly, so much so that I was worried at first. Then I realized that this must be because it did not have the weight of the dial anymore. (I didn't know the name of that, btw, before now either!)

So once I could see the movement in full, I looked for the right way to connect the pendulum based on your advice. I couldn't see an inverted v but I did find a loop of string which looked about the right height. I took photos from the front and side in case you can see what I mean. Have I gotten it right? The minute hand is moving again, so I think that is a good sign! I had to thread it through a little rectangular hole. I can't imagine how the pendulum got so messed up. My grandmother treats her things with an almost insane amount of care. ;)

By the way, my sweet Grandmommie is still alive, 91 years old and counting! She moved out of her home to live next door to my parents (and down the street from me). She will be thrilled to see her old clock working again! One thing I forgot to mention is that she always called this clock, "The Sun King's Clock," which makes sense given its dial.

I do have two more questions but need to run off for a bit. More soon -- and thank you all, again, very much!

Robin

image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg
 

robinelise

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Apr 30, 2015
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P.S. The old girl just rang, and she did not sound right. Her ring was thin and tinny. I wonder if I have not screwed the bell on tightly enough. I did not see how to tighten it more though. Please let me know if you have any ideas!
 

Tinker Dwight

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Oct 11, 2010
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Hi
It has a round hook instead of a V but you got it right.
You'll see at the top of the dial, a little hole.
The key would have a small key end that would fit in there
to wind up the string.
How long the string is to the rod determines the rate of the time
keeping.
A longer string would make the clock slow ( less wound on the rod ).
Shorter string would run faster.
The little sun face at the end of the pendulum rod is called the bob.
I can't see the count lever so I think the strike count is not likely to
work without some repairs and fabrication.
The count wheel is the spoked wheel on the back. the count lever
would stick through the rectangular slot on the upper left, next
to the count wheel. It may just be the angle and shadow of
the light. Looking at some of the other movements, the lever
is black.
I believe it was intended to strike on the hour count and once on the
half hour.
Tinker Dwight
 
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robinelise

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Apr 30, 2015
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Hi again! I solved this problem. I needed to close the door for it to amplify correctly, I think. I found a new problem in the meantime though, haha! More soon ...
 

TimeMonster

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Jun 30, 2013
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Yes, yes, Tinker Dwight! More on all of this as soon as I can!
How Cool, I really enjoy threads like these... Im sure it is in need of oiling & in most cases I would suggest taking it in & having the movement cleaned, but due to the type of clock & nature of the existing repairs, if it is running & keeping time? find a suitable place for it to sit & leave it be (you should disconnect the pendulum or bob when moving from one place to another) There are others here more familiar with this movement that could instruct you on where to oil & the type of oil that should be used, and an oiling alone will not insure that it will run for many more yrs before professional servicing, but it will run longer than if not oiled....:cuckoo:
 

Talyinka

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May 14, 2011
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Great to see Lise's enthusiasm - soon we shall have another female expert in the group, which would be nice :).

I can see from the photos that the clock is very dirty and I would hesitate to let it run in its current condition. It is an extremely nice clock and it should be serviced competently before being put into service again.
 

jmclaugh

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Jun 1, 2006
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P.S. The old girl just rang, and she did not sound right. Her ring was thin and tinny. I wonder if I have not screwed the bell on tightly enough. I did not see how to tighten it more though. Please let me know if you have any ideas!
It might be the hammer which strikes the bell is not in the correct position. If it is too close you get a dull sound, too far away and you get a weak tinny sound. It is rectified by gently bending the arm of the hammer, a repairer and you should get it serviced will sort that for you so if you're not comfy with adjusting it don't as you may do more harm than good.

Glad to hear it runs which suggests there is nothing fundamentally wrong with it. When you remove the pendulum the clock will race as the pendulum is no longer governing the rate at which the going train runs to keep time and the clock will run down quickly as the power in the spring becomes exhausted.
 

Tinker Dwight

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Oct 11, 2010
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If the strike works, the count lever must have been
hiding in the picture because of lighting.
You may find that the strike doesn't match the hour.
One can sync them by manually tripping the strike.
One can momentarily lift the count lever and that
will initialize a strike sequence when the minute
hand is a few minutes past the hour.
Do not set the hands CCW. It is best to always go
forward and wait for each strike, that is tripped,
to complete before continuing.
If you need to set it back an hour it is best to just
stop the clock and wait an hour.
Tinker Dwight
 

Tinker Dwight

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Oct 11, 2010
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Wow, great PDF. This should be read by anyone with one
of these French clocks.
Post this link often so it doesn't get forgotten.
Thanks
Tinker Dwight
 

Fred Hansen

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Here's an early French watch signed Robin I had recently, perhaps the same maker ...

112.jpg 111.jpg 120.jpg
 
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