Why do most clock hands have the same pattern?

Discussion in 'General Clock Discussions' started by CameraGuy32, Sep 5, 2019.

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  1. CameraGuy32

    CameraGuy32 Registered User

    Apr 12, 2019
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    Is there any specific reason that most tall case clocks use the same basic pattern for the hands? I know that early ones - Seth Thomas comes to mind - used their own specific pattern (S-T), but it seems that eveyone now uses the two "quarter moon" or sword curved shape on the minute hand, and what looks to me like Groucho on the hour hand. Any ideas?

    IMG_5230.JPG
     
  2. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    The style you show is copied from a style used in England in the latter part of the 18th century though the minute hand is a bit of a combination thing and more of a pastiche the hour is a bit closer. Hands developed over time and can aid in dating a clock and assessing originality, I assume when they decided to do this a lot of the clocks they saw had similar style hands because they were mostly made in one period.
     
  3. MartinM

    MartinM Registered User

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    I always think "Praying Mantis" when I see that hour hand.
     
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  4. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    They are called serpentine hands over here with the wavy minute, but I have seen the hour referred to as spectacle, which may be an old term as sailing ships have a fitting called spectacle.
     
  5. JTD

    JTD Registered User

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    I have always supposed it was because the pattern resembles a pair of spectacles, but you may well be right.

    JTD
     
  6. roughbarked

    roughbarked Registered User

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  7. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    I'm sure that is why, I was pointing out that ships contemporary with the style have spectacle fittings on the clew of the courses so the name may be as old as the style.
     
  8. jmclaugh

    jmclaugh Registered User

    Jun 1, 2006
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    For longcase clocks made this side of the pond hand styles did change over time so they aren't all the same pattern though in any one period most hands typically adhered to the style prevalent at that time with of course exceptions.
     
  9. Jim DuBois

    Jim DuBois Registered User
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    Hand styles were for a very long time fairly consistent with a maker or in some cases consistent in an area. I suspect some of that consistency came from specialization in the trade where "clockmakers" would purchase their hands from a "handmaker" who only offered them in a very few styles or maybe only one or two styles. The style did evolve over time, generally moving from well-detailed hand-filed works of art to where we are today, stamped out pieces with little to no personality and no art involved at all.

    I think it unfortunate that the serpentine hands seem to have stayed with us in their de-evolved forms. They have lost their grace almost entirely in the last xx years. In this country starting about 1790 individual production level makers commenced using hands often of their designs, often cast of pewter, as a method of identification of their product in part.

    As production increased and hands were being made more of stamped steel, several makers took handmaking a bit further, i.e., Seth Thomas and their "ST" hands. Also New Haven used a lot of Maltese Cross style hands, E. Howard often used "moon" hands, and so forth. Simon Willard and Co. used barbed hands on their patent timepieces to the extent their competition also copied them on many of their products, products that Simon himself labeled as "spurious".

    As an aside Stephen L Franke is making some hands for his clocks that are truely the best I have seen in a very long time. He has been working with David Lindow and is currently doing some of the best contemporary clock building one could hope for. ( I like well-executed hands and his other work is every bit as good)
     
  10. Uhralt

    Uhralt Registered User
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    That's what I thought too. Those old glasses that were held with a handle.

    Uhralt
     
  11. bangster

    bangster Moderator
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    Actually, that's called a lorgnette.:)
     
  12. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    That's the ones on a stick, yes. Spectacles is a word from middle English.
     
  13. Chris Radano

    Chris Radano Registered User

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    This is just my opinion, so it may mean much to others. But in my personal collection, I avoid mantle clocks with serpentine hands. Even 19th century mantle clocks with serpentine hands. Actually, serpentine hands are a pet peeve of mine, I don't like them! Unless maybe on George III longcase clocks, or any use of the original incarnation of that style.

    On the other hand, I have acquired clocks solely because the appearance of the hands. Some of my favorites include late 18th c. through Victorian era English clocks, bracket clocks and dial clocks. The French clocks of the same time period to me are very tastefully executed- the "moon" style with stems of varying width. As well, I have some 18th c. Continental clocks with hand made hands that are very interesting. :clap:
     
  14. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    I too avoid serpentine hands but generally because they indicate a clock is too new for my collection, I have a couple of locally made clocks with them. The original ones were much finer looking than the one in the pic.
     
  15. Chris Radano

    Chris Radano Registered User

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    There are some really nice, but newer (1890-20th c.) bracket clocks with serpentine hands. Triple fusee, fine English and German clocks. But I don't like the serpentine hands.
     
  16. jmclaugh

    jmclaugh Registered User

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    The minute hand shown in the original post in this thread isn't really a serpentine hand as the scroll which gives the serpentine effect doesn't extend fully to the end of the hand, it is a sort of half way house between a serpentine and the previous style which has a simple scroll just at the base. Serpentine hands which also aren't one of my favourites were in general use on longcase clocks from around 1750-1800, the style after that was matching hands which were in general use from around 1780.
     
  17. gleber

    gleber Registered User

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    Are you going to tease us like that without providing photos? :(

    Tom
     
  18. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    The spectacle hour hand appeared before the serpentine minute, and I much prefer it with a straight minute. I should get this back next week, I would still have bought it with the serpentine but I much prefer it like this.

    freeman1.jpg
     
  19. JTD

    JTD Registered User

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    I like that too. Will you show it to us when it comes back?

    JTD
     
  20. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    There is a thread on it but it has been away for a very long time, I last saw it briefly last November! It is currently on long term test but it is finished.
     
  21. Chris Radano

    Chris Radano Registered User

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    Did I say that? Because I realized I do have a clock with serpentine hands.
    I got that grandiose clock I always wanted.
    I made an exception. But really, I consider those whimsical hands, at least I think they are.

    Usually every time I post a clock, I have pics of the hands. But I made a little parade of clock hands, in no particular order. Maybe not Novicetimekeeper's cup of tea, but the theme of this presentation is "19th Century clock hands". Some may actually be 18th, or 20th century. I selected clocks to achieve some degree of uniformity. Clock hands don't need to be ornate and intricate to be attractive, some clock hands really set off the dial. I can say I bought some of the clocks for the heart and club hands. I find clocks made by Benjamin Vulliamy to have particularly intriguing hands, but I have no clocks by him in my collection.

    18th century clocks are usually where the most ornate, intricate, meticulous clock hands can be found.

    19th c. clock hands 001.JPG 19th c. clock hands 002.JPG 19th c. clock hands 003.JPG 19th c. clock hands 004.JPG 19th c. clock hands 005.JPG 19th c. clock hands 006.JPG 19th c. clock hands 007.JPG 19th c. clock hands 008.JPG 19th c. clock hands 009.JPG 19th c. clock hands 010.JPG 19th c. clock hands 011.JPG 19th c. clock hands 012.JPG 19th c. clock hands 013.JPG
     
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  22. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    Oh I like moon hands

    My dial clocks are generally 19th century, two of the hooded clocks too. I find the artistry in the earlier longcase hands amazing but I also appreciate the simple elegance of the dial clock hands.

    DSC_1432.JPG DSC_1433.JPG DSC_1431.JPG DSC_1430.JPG DSC_1429.JPG DSC_1428.JPG DSC_1427.JPG
     
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  23. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    I felt I let my longcase down a bit so I put together a collection of longcase hands, couldn't find pics of all of them.

    Barrett1.jpg dent1.jpeg george in bedroom.jpg hood.jpg John May hood.jpg John Mercer 30.jpg knibb in place 1.JPG Peter Bower.jpg richard bockett 2.jpg Richard Fennel.jpg thomas speakman.JPG Thomas Baker.png
     
  24. Chris Radano

    Chris Radano Registered User

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    Longcase hands.

    1700 Longcase 2 001.JPG Baroque time and alarm longcase 016.JPG
     
  25. Uhralt

    Uhralt Registered User
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    The second last picture: Is the tip of the hour hand broken off?

    Uhralt
     
  26. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    Yes, quite a bit missing. A graphic designer I know designed a replacement which is basically what is there plus a new top section and that has been reproduced with a laser cutter.
     
  27. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    Since I did that a clock came up at auction with a dial and hands that I was convinced was by the same maker.

    I bid on it but was unsuccessful, the buyer kindly did a scan of the hands for me. I have to decide if I use that instead.

    Scan0097.jpg
     
  28. Chris Radano

    Chris Radano Registered User

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    Yes, you have a replacement hand fitted. Then the damaged hand you secure to the inside of the clock somewhere and keep with the clock. You can even write a note explaining the original hand was damaged.

    Swiss verge bracket clock 18th c.
    I bought a replacement hour hand for the clock in the link. But this is more a no-brainer, I probably wont keep the existing hour hand. I am working getting another finial made. But I am slow to restore my clocks....

    replacement hand Swiss clock 001.JPG
     
  29. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    no you misunderstand. The hand will be laser cut regardless, I can't use the existing broken one. The question is whether to use this scan or the hand I already had cut using the made up hand
     
  30. Chris Radano

    Chris Radano Registered User

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    #30 Chris Radano, Sep 8, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2019
    Sorry. Have a replacement hand made. use either the scan if it's more correct. Keep the broken one in the case somewhere. I think I've used who you've had make hands for your clocks, a new one will be superb.
     
  31. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    This is the one a mate drew up for me

    DSC_1275 (1).JPG
     
  32. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    That's Andrew Firth, awf restorations of Derby. I use him for stock patterns, but if I need a special I use a local company. He just did some brass fishscale frets for a bracket for me. Brilliant job.
     
  33. Chris Radano

    Chris Radano Registered User

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    Not bad. You already have that one so use it. Keep the other scan in the clock. Glue an envelope or pouch in the door with info you can acquire. Maybe it will help the clock if it's sold again.
     

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