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Floor Clocks Grandfather Clocks

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Posted August 28, 2012

When you are shopping online or at a specialty grandfather clock or floor clocks retailer, or even one of the major department stores, many individuals are thrown for a loop by the nomenclature regarding grandfather clocks. A grandfather clock is pretty much synonymous with a floor clock, except that a floor clock could also include a grandmother clock, or pretty much and free-standing clock whether chiming or not and whether water is flowing through it or not.

As far as we can tell, the term floor clock was really popularized by the Howard Miller Clock Company, and to this day they refer to most of their grandfather clocks and grandmother clocks as Floor Clocks. This differs from the historical perspective when in England and Western Europe clocks were known as tall case clocks or longcase clocks, only to become known years later in the USA as grandfather clocks because of Henry Work Clay’s incredibly popular Grandfather Clock song, which was such a hit that most everyone, at least in the USA, started referring to longcase and tallcase clocks as grandfather clocks.

When thinking about a free-standing clock, it sounds odd to us to talk about a mechanical westminster chime floor clock instead of a mechanical westminster chime grandfather clock. We have not seen any studies on what percent of grandfather clock shoppers are familiar with or favor one clock term over the other to describe grandfather clocks and grandmother clocks. Grandmother clocks, by the way, are essentially simply shorter version of grandfather clocks, with varying definitions with we at 1-800-4CLOCKS.com generally favoring about 82 inches in height as the defining factor. But like so many things in life, not only will we make exceptions to this clocks description and definition but one will find experts who will have 20 different opinions and definitions.

Free standing regulators are another type of grandfather clock, and generally refer to clocks with weight driven movements that tend to be higher precision in timekeeping.

Chimes on floor clocks include the most popular, the Westminster Chime as played by Big Ben in London, but many also include as an addition or alternative the Ave Maria Chime or the Ode to Joy chime, in addition to the classic St Michaels Chime and Whittington chime. While perhaps not thought of as in quite the same grandfather clock chime category, there is also the bim bam chime, which plays of 2 notes only, and plays on the half hour, whereas the others when they play on other than the hour usually chime every quarter hour. The Bim Bam chime will generally gong every hour to count out the time, such as 8 gongs for 8 o’clock, and then will play its bim bam 2 note chime once every half-hour. Many collectors especially enjoy the bim bam chime, and it is seen on many antique grandfather clocks, antique wall clocks, and antique mantel clocks.

Hermle Clocks also refers to its grandfather clocks mostly as floor clocks, as do Ridgeway Clocks and Kieninger Clocks as well in many instances.

Do you have a preference for one clock term over the other? Are the terms grandfather clock and floor clock interchangeable as far as you are concerned? Please let us know your thoughts.

Howard Miller Cascade Grandfather Clock model 615058 615-058

Howard Miller Cascade Grandfather Clock model 615058

Would you call this a Fountain Clock, a Waterfall clock, a Water Fountain Clock, a Grandfather Clock Fountain, or a Floor Fountain or Floor Waterfall Clock?

© Clocks Blog and 1-800-4CLOCKS

As Of: 12/08/2023