Waterbury shelf clock. 1880’s.

This is a small Waterbury shelf clock that runs with an 8 day time and strike movement.

Waterbury shelf clock

Waterbury Mantel clock

This clock will require some bushing work on a couple of elongated pivot holes. A task I will get around to one day.

Rating Adjustment

This clock has a rating adjustment that can be adjusted from a small keyhole at the top of the face. The pendulum is obviously not the original one because it, too, has a rating adjustment screw that is redundant in a clock such as this.

This is an American clock, yet another Connecticut company from the nineteenth century.

Spend Time with Time – YouTube Channel

We’ve created a YouTube channel, Spend Time with Time, to which we will post videos of two sorts:

  • Short tutorials on the maintenance of mechanical clocks
  • Videos of clocks ticking

Check it out: Spend Time with Time

Videos of clocks ticking? you might ask. Are you crazy? Maybe . . . maybe. But I do think that in this digital age, the thought and sound of a regular, mechanical beat can be a soothing reprieve from the fan-cooled buzz of humming ones and zeroes.

I imagine poets of the Romantic era yearning for the nature they saw disappearing all around them, taking solace in their memories of communing with greenery and sinuous rills as children. Maybe grandmother’s house, a place where you found comfort and solace, had a ticking mechanical clock on the mantel. You’d like on your belly on the living room rug while the adults were outside and just listen to the ticking. You haven’t really listened to ticking in years.

Harken back, now. And spend time with time.

Here’s an example of one of our videos:

Much has been written about the regularity, the synchronicity, the comforting predictability of the sound of a ticking clock. I shan’t attempt to recreate any of that poetry here. I will just say, though, that I believe this project is a worthwhile one, not a silly YouTube gimmick. I’d love to hear your thoughts, too, so please comment below or below the videos themselves.

Seth Thomas Shelf clock. Eight Day. 1890’s

This is a Seth Thomas Shelf clock. It runs for eight days, is chime and strike, and dates from the 1890s.

Seth Thomas Shelf clock

Seth Thomas Eight Day Shelf clock 1890’s

In most cases, this would be considered a mantel clock. The term ‘shelf clock’ is not commonly used, often associated with early nineteenth century American clocks from New England. However, I tend to refer to clocks with a more vertical nature as shelf clocks to distinguish them from the traditional parabolic mantel clocks. And I dislike the term ‘table clock.’

American clocks are rare in our collection, but any respectable clock collector in the United States is going to have a Seth Thomas or two. The Seth Thomas company innovated the mass production of clocks in the nineteenth century. However, Seth Thomas clocks were well built and maintain a quality and reliability above the average mass produced American clock dating from the same era.

Pendulum Clocks: Who Invented the Pendulum Clock?

The pendulum clock did not immediately come to Galileo’s mind when he noticed, in his late teens, that regardless the size of the arc a lamp hanging from the ceiling of an Italian cathedral makes when it swings, the time it takes to make that arc is always the same. Always.

Galileo would utilize this observation in his astronomical work which dominated his life. It was only in his old age that it occurred to him to apply it to mechanical construction and the keeping of time.

The First Pendulum Clock Design

The first pendulum clock of any practical import wasn’t invented until the mid-seventeenth century when Dutchman Christiaan Huygens patented a design in which he used a pendulum in conjunction with a verge escapement. (An escapement is the mechanism in a clock movement that controls the rate at which the clock ticks. The verge escapement is also known as the crown-wheel escapement.)

The accuracy of a clock is, ironically, determined by the amount of time that it loses over a period of time. With Huygens’s design, so begins the pursuit to perfect the design and construction of clocks that lost fewer and fewer minutes and then seconds a day. When his design was actually constructed, humanity saw a shift in timekeeping devices that lost anywhere from five to twenty minutes a day to timekeepers that maybe now lost only two to three minutes a week.

Further study of the principle which Galileo discovered, known as isochronous, discovered that the steepness of a pendulum’s arc was directly related to the amount of time a clock lost. Perfecting, then, not only the escapement’s rate, the pendulum’s length, and a clock’s weight, one also had to factor in the pendulum’s arc of oscillation when in search of appreciably accurate timekeeping.

Huygens’ patented his design in The Netherlands in 1656. Within a few decades, publications about pendulum clocks and the mechanics behind them were already being written. This, keep in mind, at a time when publications in any mass form were themselves new to humanity. Horological Disquisitions, for example, by John Smith, writes that by 1694, the “curious kind of long pendulum . . . is at this day so universally in use among us.”

Source: Roberts, Derek. Precision Pendulum Clocks: The Quest for Accurate Time Keeping. Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 2003. Print.

Gustav Becker Wall Clock. Two-weight. 1800’s.

A two-weight Gustav Becker  wall clock with an engraved face and pendulum.

Gustav Becker Wall Clock

Gustav Becker, Two Weight. 1800’s.

Weights

The weights are replacements, but aren’t they lovely? That’s one thing about being a clock collector and repairman: you end up with a lot of extra parts. When it comes to gears and springs, that’s no big deal. Even pendulums, you can find a long draw for. But weights – Heavens to Betsy! Weights are, well – duh! – heavy!

Unusual Chime

This clock is a little unusual in that it strikes the hours on a ‘chime rod’ as opposed to a coil gong which was typically used on this type of Vienna wall clock.

Wall Clock: Ansonia Oak Regulator. ca 1890.

This wall clock has a case that is in exceptional condition. Ansonia wall clocks are not common in our collection, but this common design is likeable. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the movement. When I first wound the clock , I was surprised to find that it worked, but the chiming was very erratic. Upon inspection, I found that the movement had been modified and the count wheel had been removed and replaced with a strange wheel with pins added that activated the striking hammer.

Ansonia Oak Regulator Wall Clock. ca 1890.

Ansonia Oak Regulator Wall Clock B. ca 1890.

 

 

 

I compared the movement to an identical ‘original’ movement and I can only conclude that someone has attempted to either convert this clock into some kind of alarm clock (and failed) or to repair the strike train (and failed). The time train runs fine.

Wall Clocks Online

We have many wall clocks in our collection. Check a few of them:

Spring Wound Wall Clock

  • E.N. Welch Clock. Gallery Clock – When this one strikes the hour, the sound of the gong is almost drowned out by the noise of the gears clattering as they spin. . . Terrible bloody racket!
  • Waterbury Clock : store regulator – Some of these clocks have product names printed on the glass. These were mass produced clocks. As such, the cases and movements are obviously of a much lesser quality than, say, office or school house regulators.
  • French Irod: two-chime, art deco wall clock – The movement plates are separated into three separate plates enabling one to dismantle each train individually.

Weight Driven Wall Clock

  • Two weight Vienna Regulator – With a second hand. Late 1800’s. As we’ve mentioned before, we are well-aware that these are not referred to as Vienna Regulators in Europe.
  • Three-weight Vienna Regulator– This clock has ‘Grand Sonnerie’ striking. It first chimes the quarter, then the hour. For example, at 6:30, it chimes twice on the quarter then 6 times on the hour.
  • Dachluhr Vienna Regulator – One of my finest clocks, a Dachluhr Vienna Regulator. Technically, it is a clock simply in the Dachluhr style. A regulator with dead beat escapement and maintaining power.

E.N. Welch Clock. Gallery Clock. 1800’s.

I don’t have much info on this E.N. Welch Clock , but my best guess is that it dates from the late 1800’s.

E.N. Welch Clock. Gallery Clock. 1800’s.

Gallery Clock. 1800’s.

When this one strikes the hour, the sound of the gong is almost drowned out by the noise of the gears clattering as they spin. . . Terrible bloody racket!

The clock is American. You can find an in depth write up about the history of this clock company with the Antique Clock Guys. Other sites will direct you to a history of the New Haven Clock Company which is not accurate. We have a couple of  New Haven clocks in our collection; they are much nicer than this one.

Brief History of Time Keeping

History of Time

Cleopatra's Needle History of TimeAs we consider the history of time, it becomes obvious that at some point it must have become necessary for our ancestors to come up with a way to catalog the moments in the day and devise a system that would place them all on the same page, so to speak, to schedule public gatherings or work schedules.

SHadow Clocks

Shadow clocks or sundials were among the earliest of timekeepers. Cleopatra’s Needle (right) is an example that now resides along the Thames in London. The refined engineering of these instruments became so precise that, as Derek Roberts writes, “(L)ittle ivory tablet sundials and ring sundials [were], in the sixteenth and seventeenth century, the equivalent of the gentleman’s pocket watch.”

Many incarnations of the sundial were designed and utilized, but the most common form was the garden sundial, a flat disk with an angled wedge indicator. Even in the early days of longcase clocks in the seventeenth century, garden sundials, along with various equations, were used to set and regulate the new machines.

Other Clocks

Believe it or not, there were inventions such as water clocks and fire clocks utilized over the years as well. More in the vein of timers, the water clocks worked simply to indicate time as water passed through a hole in a bucket and the fire clocks were, well, let’s face it, burning candles.

What is a Regulator Clock?

What is a regulator clock?Many people ask us, “What is a regulator clock?” It is an excellent question, but one difficult to answer.

Historically Speaking

Even the preeminent horologist Derek Roberts admitted as much in his stunning volume Precision Pendulum Clocks: The Quest for Accurate Time Keeping. He wrote in his introduction:

“The term ‘regulator’ is such a confusing one . . . Many authorities would insist that any clock so described must have a “regulator dial layout” or, as some would say an ‘Astro,’ or Astronomical dial, by which is meant a center sweep minute hand and a separate seconds and hour rings, usually placed below 12 o’clock and above 6 o’clock . . . ”

This definition would exclude some of the finest specimens of horological history, never mind the general store, long-drop type clocks so commonly referred to as regulators. Roberts goes on:

“A further confusion can arise form the fact that the early precision clocks were called astronomical clocks because they were use din observatories, but when clocks started to be produced in England with astronomical indications on the dial, this practice was gradually discontinued to avoid confusion.”

Traditionally Speaking

Regulators, in a horologist’s shop, are the precision time pieces; they are the clocks that keep the most accurate, reliable time and are used to set the other clocks in the collection. Roberts writes:

“It is difficult to say wen precision timekeeping by means of a mechanical clock first occurred. “Precision” is a relative term and it may well be that the clockmakers of the late thirteenth century felt that the advent of the mechanical clock incorporating a crown wheel and folio heralded the advent of accurate timekeeping.”

In point of fact, Roberts goes on to note, these clocks were difficult to adjust, and then only by crude methods. “It is difficult to know how well these early timekeepers performed, but it seems unlikely that on average they held a rate better than five to ten minutes a day,” he goes on.

Source: Roberts, Derek. Precision Pendulum Clocks: The Quest for Accurate Time Keeping. Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 2003. Print.

Waterbury Clock. Store Regulator. Late 1800’s.

I had to replace the face on this Waterbury Clock because the original was beyond repair.

Waterbury Clock. Store Regulator. Late 1800’s.

Waterbury Clock. Store Regulator. Late 1800’s.

I used a paper face replacement. The clock is a typical store advertising clock.

Advertising Clocks

Some of these clocks have product names printed on the glass. These were mass produced clocks. As such, the cases and movements are obviously of a much lesser quality than, say, office or school house regulators.

The term ‘advertising clock’ is not germane to this make and model of clock as advertising clocks have been produced throughout the ages in all shapes and sizes. This is a more traditional store clock that may have some sort of advertising on the class. In this case, the generic horological term ‘regulator’ appears.