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Antique American Clocks & Clockmakers

The complete story of American clockmaking is still to be told. In no branch of industry does one more deeply regret the absence of those great guilds or companies which were formed so early in England, than in studying the remarkable history of fine clock-making in this country.

In the English guilds the names of the members of the several trades were set down, the dates when they entered, and generally their addresses. This simplifies exceedingly the listing of the names of the makers. Those who were not members of the London guild of English clockmakers frequently put on the name of the town where they worked in addition to their own name, and the style of the case, the material, and character of the works gives an idea of the period of manufacture.

The putting on of the maker's name is not unusual among American clockmakers, and there was in addition a fashion of putting inside the case a paper with maker's name, address, and directions for keeping the clock in running order. But these papers did not come into vogue till after 1800 or a little later, for their use is almost wholly confined to mantel and wall clocks. It has never been found in a long-case clock of American make.

Clockmakers and gold and silversmiths, the two businesses were often worked together, came America early in the seventeenth century, from England and Holland, just as artisans of other trades came. They brought with them their tools, and were abreast with their contemporaries in their methods of manufacture. The names of these early makers are very hard to find. The clocks they made have generally disappeared, and the only way to gain any trace of them is a patient and unending search through town records, newspapers and sometimes in genealogical records.

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