Grandfather Clock

British Grandfather Clocks

Eight-Day Movements:

These clocks only require winding once per week, so we usually recommend that our customers wind them on the same day every week. Most eight-day grandfather clocks have two sets of gears (two-train), one set of gears for the strike and the other for the time. Each train has its own separate weight. If the clock strikes on the quarter hours then it will have a third set of wheels and weights.

Thirty-Hour Movements:

This also has two trains, but they are driven by a single weight and a tiny counterweight to keep the rope taut. This movement was developed from a wall hanging clock called a lantern clock.

Month Running Movements:

These movements are rare. and are considered high quality movements with the addition of a extra wheel to give the longer duration.

Cases:

The early cases (c1680) were very simplistic, the case doors were usually flat topped, the simple arched top became popular in the late 1720’s but more popular in the Northern parts of the UK and rarely seen on clocks from the South. After the 1830’s fancier designs were seen mostly in the North. The marquetry cases were and are still sought after, these cases were often “fake” and only experienced clocksmith's can determine the originality of these cases. Marquetry can be minor decorations like shells of fans, or could cover the whole clock from the hood to the base.

The Dials:

Grandfather clock dials come in many styles, ranging from very plain brass or silver dials to the more extensive painted moon dials. The dials are used to verify the age of the grandfather clock. This is accomplished by taking into account the numbers, the chapter rings, the half and quarter hour markings, and the minute band outside the chapter rings.

The Hands:

The clock hands are either blued steel or brass. Early hand designs were simplistic but rapidly grew to more ornamental hands by piercing the brass which was a long process so a quicker more crude method of stamping was used.

The Spandrels:

With very few exceptions all grandfather clocks have spandrels. The exceptions are very early grandfather clocks and instead have carvings. Early spandrels would be small, simple, and have a cherub. Over time the spandrels were more open designs with flowers, seashells, foliage, and dolphins. The dolphins became popular with the introduction of arched dial clocks. The spandrels are a pretty good gauge to the age of the clock, and are used in conjunction with all the other details to be more accurate.

Interesting Grandfather Clock Facts


There are some British grandfather clocks that cannot be categorized into either a Southern or Northern British grandfather clock. This is because some clock cases employ generic design features that have no particular style.

On the other hand, antique clock cases may have dozens of features from different regions that make it harder to identify the clocks origin. Lets learn about the different features of grandfather clocks:

Antique Grandfather Clock

American Grandfather Clocks

American Grandfather clocks were first developed in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and later in Connecticut. Around 1840 Connecticut became the area that mass produced clocks.

Most often clock cases were made by cabinet makers, per the clockmaker request, and reflected the furniture style of that period. As with English Grandfather clocks each area developed its own style, so with experience we can distinguish if the clock was made in Philadelphia, Boston, Connecticut, or New York.

The first grandfather clocks were made with square dials, flat tops, and no did not have feet. Eventually bun feet were used which were later replaced with ogee feet. The 1760's was called the Chippendale era. Grandfather clocks had broken arches on the hoods, finials made of brass or wood, and some fretwork on the hoods and cases. Around 1780 the cases often had more delicate designs with inlay work.

Early dials were ten inches and square in shape. They were made of brass and pierced brass spandrels that had different designs and silvered chapter rings. Then around 1740 the arched dial appeared and had either a moon dial or embossed arch with the makers name. The painted dial was introduced around 1780.

The movements were more often brass and ran for eight-days. Wooden movements and thirty-hour brass movements were available, but were not as popular. Dials then became more complex with the addition of musical bells, date dial, seconds hands, different types of moon phases, and eventually astronomical clocks showing the movements of the planets around the sun. Astronomical clocks complicated the design of the movements.