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Antique English Clocks

The years from 1660 to 1700 saw radical changes in the shape of English furniture and furnishings and an area often neglected is the fine craftsmanship and work of a number of brilliant English clockmakers, adding a new convenience to life generally, and enriching the furnishing of many homes of the seventeenth century.

English Clocks from Lantern to Grandfather

Clocks were no longer rare and curious things, the possession of which marked the man of extreme wealth, and from the "lantern", "bedpost", "birdcage" brass-cased chamber clocks of the early seventeenth century the wooden hooded type evolved, and ultimately the stately long case clock, that acquired, in Victorian times, the homely name of "grandfather". This name was used because of a popular song of 1878 which began: "My grandfather's clock was too large for the shelf, so it stood ninety years on the floor".

Lantern Clocks

Antique Lantern Clock
Antique Lantern Clock, 1650.
This is the only known lantern clock with a silver case. The dial plate, chapter ring, alarm disc, side doors and pierced silver gallery are all of silver. It must have been made as a special commission for a wealthy patron.
Made by David Bouquet.

Although Bartholomew Newsam was making small, portable clocks in London during the sixteenth century, it was not until the beginning of the seventeenth century that clocks for domestic use engaged the attention of clockmakers. These early "lantern" clocks, first developed in England in the 1620s, had cases of brass ( the name "lantern" is probably based on the word "laton" - meaning brass ) surmounted by a dome shaped bell with a decorative finial. Their design was based upon the simple weight driven iron clocks made in Europe. Antique lantern clocks were hung on the wall or placed on a bracket, and the weights hung down below, the clock being wound for its day of activity by pulling down the ends of the chains or cords which suspended the weights, so that the weights were raised.

Pendulum, Hanging, & Long Case Clocks

Longcase Clock
Longcase Clock, 1660.
This antique clock is housed in a long case veneered with ebony on oak. The lift-up hood is glazed on three sides. At the corners it has attached Corinthian columns with gilt-bronze bases and capitals. They support a pediment with a gilt-bronze cartouche and laurel swags. The acorn finials beneath the front columns on the hood suggest that the clock was originally designed to be hung on a wall, but was later adapted as a long-case clock. The present pendulum is only 7 inches long.

By the end of the Commonwealth the pendulum had been introduced ; hanging clocks were made with wooden cases (hood clocks), and before the beginning of the eighteenth century long case clocks were numerous, and in England and Scotland many able clockmakers were at work, although English makers have left more abundant proofs of their activity, both in clocks and records, than the Scottish craftsmen from Edinburgh.

Fine English Clocks

From the fine antique English clocks that have come down to us, it is clear that talent was not lacking in this craft, and that the late 17th century home often included a timepiece that was a work of art, a living, vital thing, created by the skill of master craftsmen for centuries of service.

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