Why were London makers slow to adopt the rack?

Discussion in 'General Clock Discussions' started by novicetimekeeper, Jan 15, 2019.

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  1. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

    Jul 26, 2015
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    I was pondering this last night when looking at an anonymous longcase and trying to think about where it was made.

    Why were London makers of longcase slower to adopt rack striking than provincial ones? It clearly happened, but why?

    Was it customer resistance? English clock and watch customers were notoriously conservative but London was where all the fashions started. We date clocks fairly precisely based on London fashions knowing that the further away we get the less reliable that gets, but when it comes to striking mechanism that appears to go in reverse.

    I have a Dorset longcase from around 1700 with internal rack, had it been London I'm sure it would have been internal countwheel.

    Like all things clock related there are no hard and fast rules, I saw a Dorset 8 day longcase last year made after 1750 with external countwheel, even in London they had stopped doing that 40 years or so earlier.

    I just don't really understand why in this aspect London wasn't leading the way.
     
  2. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Nick,

    Was it that the influence of the Clockmakers Company was so much stronger in London? They were certainly pretty reactionary in their attitude to other innovations such as watch jewelling.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  3. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    That would be one for Andrew, but I hadn't thought of that. It is a good idea.
     
  4. jmclaugh

    jmclaugh Registered User

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    I would imagine it was a conservative attitude among clockmakers and London makers had a longer history than provincial ones but who knows as the French were still using the countwheel system in the 19th C. I wouldn't think customer resistance was the reason as they wouldn't see the movement and rack striking would be less troublesome for them as it wouldn't get out of synch.
     
  5. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    I did think about the synch thing. London customers of the great makers like Gretton who continued with the countwheel were the wealthiest of the wealthy, and the clocks they bought were incredibly expensive. I can't see them ever being allowed to wind down and stop, they would have plenty of staff, and access to the makers for ongoing attention.

    Provincial makers probably had a slightly different clientele, perhaps more remote, with fewer staff able to look after the clock, and perhaps less easy access to the maker. Perhaps that was a driving force towards clocks that looked after themselves a bit more.
     
  6. DeanT

    DeanT Registered User

    Mar 22, 2009
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    Does your question also apply to bracket clocks or was the introduction of rack striking adopted earlier in London bracket clocks? It was the same makers after all.
     
  7. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    I didn't mention them, because I don't know much about striking bracket clocks but it is an interesting question. When did they change from countwheel to rack?

    Though it is true that in London they had the same makers, provincial bracket clocks from the first half of the 18th century are not very common, and that is when the changes were taking place in longcase.
     
  8. DeanT

    DeanT Registered User

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    Rack striking on London bracket clocks from 1680. I guess they needed racks for the repeating function which answers my own question....no repeating on longcases so no real need for rack striking?
     
  9. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    Yes, that supports the idea of conservatism I think. Perhaps provincial makers who were newer to longcase saw no reason to stick with old technology. Meanwhile longcase were giving way to bracket clocks in London.
     

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