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Written by Allan Smith - Allan Smith Antique Clocks

British Antique Clocks by Allan Smith Antique Clocks

British Antique Clocks by Allan Smith Antique Clocks

British Antique Clocks - Simple Pointers


Not all British antique longcase clocks exhibit strong specific regional characteristics but those that do are generally rated above those that do not. See classic Edinburgh, Bristol, London, Liverpool/Manchester, Hull, Whitehaven, Belfast etc. examples on www.allansmithantiqueclocks.co.uk ( Classic Types section ). A short browse will enable classic examples to be identified.

Dials usually show the movement maker and place of work whilst some cases retain original casemakers labels so that we know the makers of the cases and even the addresses of their workshops.

Occasionally, case delivery instructions will be legible, usually written in wax crayon on the back of the backboard see www.allansmithantiqueclocks.co.uk ( Classic Types section ).

Working from known, original examples a picture of styles popular to a certain region at a given period can be built up.

A few generally accepted facts ;-

  • The longer the trunk door, the earlier the clock. Not infallible as some regions retained the long door throughout.
  • London made examples do not have "finished" oak cases but can have oak carcasses - veneered or lacquered. The ( very ) few exceptions are regulators built for accuracy of their movements not aesthetic appeal as used in, say, Observatories/Laboratories.As seen for instance, at Greenwich Observatory.
  • Brass dials were used from the inception, say, just pre 1670.
  • Painted dials came into fashion circa 1772 but brass dials were still used.
  • Half hour markers on brass dial chapter rings dropped out of fashion mid 18th C.
  • Mahogany was used in longcase clock cases from mid 18th C, though for furniture, earlier.
  • So mahogany cases with brass dial movements exhibiting half hour markers on their chapter rings are suspect except some northern areas particularly Manchester/Liverpool where the fashion continued later than most other regions.
  • Some early movements were rehoused from walnut or lacquer cases when mahogany came into fashion so we have a situation where the case is original to the movement but the movement is not original to the case.
  • Single hands were used from earliest times but do not automatically pre date those with two hands. See a single hand example by Wilkins of Marlborough www.allansmithantiqueclocks.co.uk Look in the Classic Types section.
  • Single hands are found on painted dial clocks, especially country made wall timepiece alarm style.
  • Many single hand, 30 hour, brass dial, longcases have been converted to two hands or to 8 day movements with two hands.
  • Genuine, 8 day single hand clocks are VERY rare.
  • Some painted dial examples were converted to brass dials using a commercially available kit of parts in the 20th C when painted dials were out of fashion.
  • Originality will affect valuation i.e. the more original the better.
  • Mirror trunk doors were a short lived fashion 1720 25. See examples by Henry Thornton of London and Francis Gregg of London www.allansmithantiqueclocks.co.uk look in the Classic Types section.
  • Examine everything very closely - is the 8 day clock in fact a 30 hour with dummy winding holes? See dummy winding holes on an example by Porthouse of Darlington www.allansmithantiqueclocks.co.uk. Look in the Classic Types section.
  • Value will depend on aesthetic appeal ( proportions, quality of workmanship, quality of materials, colour ) originality, age, provenance, maker etc.
  • If a clock "looks to good to be true" for the money being asked you may have found a bargain or it may be that you need to re evaluate it against the simple checks above.
  • Remember top quality restoration is expensive and can eclipse the original price of the clock, poor quality restoration can ruin a clock aesthetically and in value.
  • I will be as helpful as possible and may be reached on email allansmithclocks@ntlworld.com if clarification of the above points is required.