Antique English Grandfather Clocks
|Posted May 9, 2011
When when this back in time in olden days gone by, much of the earliest grandfather clock history took place in Merry Old England. Although the grandfather clock was then known as a longcase clock or tall case clock, the clock design was unmistakable. A weight driven floor clock in a free-standing wooden case with a pendulum swinging back and forth helping to drive the grandfather clock mechanism. Aside from certain definitions around the height and relative dimensions of the grandfather clock case, this schematic and design is the very definition and essence both of the antique and modern day grandfather clock and floor clock.
There were two categories of movements, regarding duration, of the earliest grandfather clocks and during the first 300 years, believe it or not, since grandfather clocks were first introduced on about the year 1650. Some were made with 8 day movements and others were made with 30 hour movements. This was true particularly in the 1800s. The most common pattern or practice was that 30 hour movement clocks, where the clocks essentially had to be wound one a day to keep it running, were either bought for the servants quarts of the very wealthy, or by individual grandfather clock shoppers who could not afford the price tag associated with the 8 day grandfather clock mechanism. The floor clocks, known back then as long case and tallcase clocks, with 8 day movements, were bought and used by the very rich in society, and in certain public and common areas where many could see the time and benefit from having access to and a view of what time it was at any given moment.
Another big difference between the very large majority of antique British grandfather clocks vs. current grandfather clocks made by Howard Miller clocks and Hermle Clocks and Ridgeway Clocks and others is that most but not all of the antique grandfather clocks were time and strike only, gonging on the hour for the number of hours and striking once to mark the passing of the half-hour. Antique grandfather clocks by and large have a much much louder clock strike and gong on the hour compared to modern day grandfather clocks, yet a very few of them also had chimes built in, which made those floor clocks particularly collectible, rare and expensive. Even fewer of the antique clocks had automata built in, such as a ship rocking back and forth, and some even had music boxes or figures which might move on the hour. New Howard Miller Grandfather Clocks, Ridgeway Grandfather Clocks, Hermle Floor Clocks and others also will have a chime and frequently a selection of chimes, which were very rarely found on antique grandfather clocks. Chimes are one of many very important considerations when considering purchasing a new vs. antique grandfather clock. If one wants the Westminster Chimes on a grandfather clock, for example, one is much more likely to find it to begin with, much less also affordibly, on a new vs. antique grandfather clock. Working moondials are another luxury which are much more available and affordable on new grandmother clocks and grandfather clocks compare to antique grandmother clocks.
There we so many famous makers of now antique British Grandfather Clocks that there are literally books filled with the names of clockmakers and watchmakers from Britain that list tens of thousands of listed clock makers, in fine print and showing bound in a single volume of hundreds of pages. Perhaps the most notable and famous clock and pocket watch reference is known as Brittens Guide to Antique Clock and Watchmakers. It is a wonderful reference tool for any aspiring horologist or collector of grandfather clocks, wall clocks, mantel clocks and antique pocket watches.
Some of the many names of the earlier grandfather clock makers include J W Benson of London, Thomas Tompion, Eliicott, Mappin & Webb, Dent and Company, Elliott and literally hundreds and many thousands of somewhat lesser known individuals and entities making and producing grandfather clock.
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