What type and number of finials are historically correct for English tall case clocks

Discussion in 'General Clock Discussions' started by PaulWeber, Mar 15, 2017.

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  1. PaulWeber

    PaulWeber Registered User

    Feb 10, 2017
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    Without a doubt, my favorite "finishing touch" to a an old English tall case clock is a nice stately set of brass finials. More than anything else, I think a clock's finials set it off and have the ability to transform an otherwise unremarkable clock into a beautiful and striking piece of furniture (sorry... that pun was unavoidable). As long as they're not over-the-top (ok...that one was on purpose).

    My problem, however, is that, while I have a personal preference for the particular style and number of finials I like, I'm not at all sure about which styles and arrangements are historically accurate for a given type of clock. I see clocks all the time where it's obvious that it's finial(s) are not original--either because they're too new-looking, or because they just doesn't seem to mesh with the style of the hood. And I see clocks quite often where I'm fairly certain it was meant to have more finials (say, 3 intead of just 1), and vice versa. As you might guess, the first thing I think about every time I look at a clock for the first time is: Are those finial(s) "correct?" Yes, it's a minor obsession! (But hey, none of us who read these forums are quite right when it comes to clocks, right?)

    So my question is: Are there any generally accepted historical guidelines, conventions, standards etc. as to what type, and what number, of finials nineteenth century clockmakers originally installed on their long case clocks? If so (as I assume is the case), can someone please point me in the direction of an authoritative source on this subject. (Preferablely an online source because I'm lazy and cheap!) Thanks.....
     
  2. jmclaugh

    jmclaugh Registered User

    Jun 1, 2006
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    Re: What type and number of finials are historically correct for English tall case cl

    I'm not aware of any sources specifically on longcase clock finials and most books on such clocks don't say a great deal about them. Typically the number of finials can vary from none,1,2 or 3 depending on the style of the hood and the whims of the case maker. They frequently go missing hence why replacements are often found on these clocks.
     
  3. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User
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    Jul 26, 2015
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    Re: What type and number of finials are historically correct for English tall case cl

    I am completely the opposite, can't stand the things, they are often added to early clocks to jazz them up.

    Early ones were wood and gesso. You can tell if brass has been fitted instead of wood because the holes need plugging to take the smaller threaded brass fixings rather than the simple push in wooden ones. Remember brass was incredibly expensive in the 17th and earlier 18th centuries

    Early flat topped square dial clocks would have carved wood top pieces that have mainly long since disappeared.
     
  4. Jeremy Woodoff

    Jeremy Woodoff Registered User
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    Jun 30, 2002
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    Re: What type and number of finials are historically correct for English tall case cl

    The old book English Domestic Clocks by Cescinsky and Webster, and Brian Loomes' books on English tall clocks, will have many illustrations of clocks with finials. Of course, some will be replaced, but you can get an idea of the variety and the types that were most common on the various styles.
     

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