Dating brass dial grandfather clocks

Each component still carries reliable indicators of the era in which the clock was designed to be as appealing as possible to its initial owner, just as was the furniture, fabrics, porcelains and silver of the time. It is in a walnut case, with a slim trunk, long door, small bun feet.The features of the brass dial, the twisted hood pillars, and lenticle on the door are typical of this early period.The fine clocks by the most noted makers, from the 1660-1730 golden age of development, are now around 300 years old. With a bit of informed research, it is usually possible to assign a date to a clock within a 10 to 15 year range from its major design features alone.

The elegant mahogany clock at the right has a typical classic London case that was fashionable during most of last half of the 18th century.

Better dials were beautifully engraved or skillfully painted by highly paid specialists, but some very inexpensive painted dials or simple provincial brass dials were produced quickly with flat and inartistic decoration.

Mahogany didn't become popular in clock cases until about 1750, almost 20 years after it was commonly available in furniture, but by the time it did it was an expensive wood with a high import tax.

Only the better cabinet shops could afford to offer it, and it is no accident that simple and cheap thirty-hour movements are seldom found in cases of walnut or mahogany.

Better movements offered something extra, but again they took more time and engineering skill to produce.

Some clocks need winding every day, but for a higher price your clock could run a week or a month or even a year between windings.

Much worse than simple deterioration is deliberate alteration.

Common longcase clocks have always outnumbered the high quality clocks, and it has long been worthwhile to "enhance" the lesser examples for an undeserved profit.

Almost all have seconds and calendar dials, but a small percentage also have moon dials that let you know when there will be more light for traveling; or tidal dials that tell you when high tide will be in your local bay so that your ship can sail.

There are movements that play musical tunes, and ones on whose dials rocking figures move in time with the pendulum.

The "bargain" might very well be lacking ,000 worth of skilled and appropriate restoration. If the feet of a clock's case rot away, is it cricket to replace them?