Chapter VI

Domestic Clocks.

HE late seventeenth and eighteenth-century long-case and bracket clocks are such integral features of the English furniture of their period, and their acquirement offers such a fascinating and profitable field to the collector, that some mention and description of them is necessary-, if this book is to be comprehensive. At the outset one is confronted with the difficulty of having written an exhaustive book on the same subject, and the problem is how to condense the information and illustrative material contained in a royal quarto volume of 354 pages into the space of a single chapter, without omitting something of prime importance to the student of English horology. It is obvious that a good deal of excision is necessary, and, at the outset, space will forbid anything beyond a very brief mention of the clock movements or the historical development of the clockmaker's craft.

The collecting of English domestic clocks appears, at the present day, to be reinforced by very- inadequate knowledge. Fine examples, and the merest rubbish,—the work of the later eighteenth-century country- makers unfortunately7 offers a great number of specimens of the latter,—appear to command indiscriminate prices, sometimes absurdly7 high, at other times as ridiculously- low

A poor clock in a case of little or no merit is a worthless thing, and if a greater knowledge of the subject has the effect of enhancing the prices of the fine clocks, and of rendering the rubbish absolutely- unsaleable, a real benefit will have been conferred on the discriminating collector.

English long-case clocks may7 be divided into several periods, or classes, each of w7hich is, to a great extent, quite distinct. To commence with, we have the very7 early7 thirtyr-hour long-case clocks, generally7 in ebony-veneered, or ebonised panelled cases, or in w7alnut, inlaid with simple stringing or marqueterie. These clocks are one-handed, the motion-work of the minute-hand being imperfectly understood at that date. Clocks of this kind date from about 1660 to 1672, but it must not be imagined that every thirty-hour single-handed clock is an early one. They- were made, principally- as hanging wall clocks, during the w7hole of the eighteenth century, in the smaller provincial towns or villages, and they7 are usually7 to be found, divorced from their original wall brackets,

and married to crude long cases, generally of waxed oak. The early clocks have always square dials, and these are never more than about 10 ins. in width and height. A 1660-70 one-handed clock would be, almost certainly, from a London maker, and would be signed with his name in a straight line at the bottom of the dial, and usually in Latin, thus " Johannes Fromantecl, ^PWBB^^^B^ Londini, fecit."

For the purpose of a better understanding of this subject, without entering more than is absolutely necessary into the technicalities of the movements, we can examine and describe the visible component parts of a long-case clock, and briefly state the various stages of evolution from 1660 to 1800. The still earlier lantern — or " Crom-wellian "—hanging clocks, being the progenitors of the long-case, demand also some brief reference. It is necessary to touch on the technical side of our subject and to examine the mechanism which causes a clock to go and keep time. The motive power of a long-case clock is the fall of weights, suspended from pulley-wheels channelled to carry the gut lines which are coiled on barrels when the clock is wound up.

To these barrels the winding squares, which can be seen in the winding holes on the dial face,

Fig. 390

JOHANNES FROMAN-TEEL, LONDINI."

30-hour Striking Clock.

Ebonised case. 6 ft. 8 ins. high. Waist 10 ins. wide. Dial 8J ins. square. Date about 1660-5.

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