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Your Guide to Buying An Antique Bracket Clock

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Your Guide to Buying An Antique Bracket Clock
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Your Guide to Buying An Antique Bracket Clock

Antique bracket clocks from the 17th and 18th century are beautifully hand-crafted timepieces that add graceful charm and historical elegance to any clock collection. Antique clocks are those that were created at least 100 years ago. From Georgian to Victorian, antique bracket clocks feature a wide range of designs that reflect the styles of the periods in which they were made. Clockmakers created these clocks out of wood, and antique bracket clocks can be found with elaborate decorations with intricate detailing, brass accents, and other ornamental designs or they can appear with more plain and simple styles. This guide offers a general overview of the types and parts of antique bracket clocks, along with the steps to care for them, to help simplify the decision and process of purchasing such an item.

History of Antique Bracket Clocks

Antique bracket clocks first began manufacture around the seventeenth century and were a popular type of home clock through to the eighteenth century. Bracket clocks were handcrafted by master clockmakers and were typically constructed from wood, and often ebony, and featured different designs and ornamentation depending on the particular trends of the day. Clock making was a specialised skill, and many clockmakers designed and developed scientific instruments as well.

Earlier clocks featured more rudimentary escapement designs, the mechanisms responsible for the tracking of time. These earlier escapements were not completely dependable, which lead to the use of springs in mechanical movement. Many original bracket clocks featured a verge escapement with small pendulums, which tended to be converted in the Victorian era to an anchor-style escapement as clock-motion technology advanced. Many collectors choose to undo these conversions, moving back to original verge escapement systems. The bracket clock evolved alongside the use of springs, which allowed for the design of smaller, more portable home clocks. These clocks were designed for home use and were considered a luxury and were owned only by those wealthy enough to purchase them.

Discover Antique Bracket Clocks

Originally a weight-driven pendulum clock, early antique bracket clocks were originally intended to be mounted on a wall to accommodate the hanging pendulums. Bracket clocks came with their own decorative shelf and were often a type of repeater clock, a striking clock that that featured a second gear train to allow for repetitive sounding at each hour. Many of these clocks also featured handles that allowed homeowners to carry them from room to room.

Predominately made from wood, these clocks feature a variety of styles and detailing. Many early bracket clocks featured verge escapements with short pendulums that were often upgraded in later years to anchor escapements. Spring-driven mechanisms replaced weight-driven mechanisms as a more reliable measure of time, and clocks that required winding multiple times a day eventually needed to be wound only once per week. Elegant and beautiful, antique bracket clocks are a great addition to any clock collection and can add graceful charm to any home.

Components of Antique Bracket Clocks

The following list identifies the common parts of a bracket clock that will help purchasers in evaluating the integrity and authenticity of an antique bracket clock.

Part

Description

Case

Protective covering that houses the clock movement mechanisms which are typically held in by case screws.

Chimes

A sequence of musical notes that typically denote the quarter hour.

Dial

The face plate of a clock where numerals are marked.

Escapement

A mechanism such as a pendulum or spring that controls the speed of the clock.

Fusee

A pulley device that evens out the tension on the pull of the mainspring.

Mainspring

A spiral spring that controls the movement of the clock.

Pendulum

A weight on the end of a rod that uses gravity to keep the time on a clock.

Striking

Sound made to mark the hour and half-hour.

Winding button

Knob on a clock used to wind the timing mechanism.

Factors to Consider When Buying an Antique Bracket Clock

The following list outlines factors to consider before purchasing an antique bracket clock.

  • Condition - When considering the purchase of an antique bracket clock, ensure it is working order and all the movement mechanisms are functioning.  Antique clock parts are available that can be used to replaced worn out and damaged parts. However, some buyers may prefer a clock that needs repair and correction.
  • Originality - Many styles of affordable antique clocks have remained popular throughout the years. Certain designs have been reproduced over time and style may not be an indicator or a genuine antique. Researching the differences and understanding the mechanisms of antique bracket clocks can help purchasers to determine a clock’s authenticity and integrity.
  • Refurbishment - Owners would often upgrade or change the internal mechanisms or alter the style of their clocks rather than purchase a new one. Often antique bracket clocks will have upgraded movement or have been restyled to suit the styles of the period. Understanding the basic types and parts of bracket clocks will help purchasers to identify if clocks have been changed in any way from their original state.
  • Style - From rotate to simple, antique bracket clocks are available in a wide range of styles. When considering the purchase of an antique clock, consider which style will work best with particular tastes and décor.
  • Budget - When searching for antique bracket clocks, it helps to establish a budget from the outset. This will help narrow down the styles and choices to make the purchasing process easier.

How to set up an Antique Bracket Clock

Pendulums of antique bracket clocks can either be detachable or fixed. Verge escapement pendulums are typically fixed, while anchor escapements may feature pendulums that are detachable. As many bracket clocks were moved from room to room, they tended to feature clamps that keep pendulums in place during transportation to prevent damage.

For clocks mounted on the wall it is important to install detachable pendulums after the clock has been hung, whereas fixed pendulums should be secured using the installed clamps and released after the clock has been installed.

When manually setting the clock, move the minute hand only in a slow clockwise direction. For striking clocks, allow the clock to sound at each hour (or quarter hour depending on the clock) before continuing to move forward, or switch to silent setting if applicable before changing the time. Moving the minute hand backwards may damage the internal movement mechanisms.

Winding an Antique Bracket Clock

Antique bracket clocks should be wound regularly on a weekly basis unless otherwise specified. For striking clocks, both sides will require winding. Wind the key until it comes to a definite stop. Quarter chiming bracket clocks will feature three winding squares. Failure to wind both (or all three) winding squares can cause striking springs to stop and damage the clock. There should be very little slack when the key is inserted into the winding square, although care must be taken not to over wind. Make sure to replace keys that are beginning to wear so they don’t damage the clock.

How to Care for Antique Bracket Clocks

Keep antique bracket clocks looking great and operating at their best with a few simple steps. It is important to secure pendulums when moving clocks to avoid damage.  Clocks featuring detachable pendulums should have them removed before transporting the clock.

Clean antique bracket clocks regularly.  Gloves should be worn when cleaning and dusting clocks to ensure oils that can damage parts and finishes are not transferred over. A finely stitched cloth should be used for gently whipping away dust to prevent scratches.

Keep humidity levels constant to prevent corrosion and ensure the wood does not dry out. Regularly wind antique bracket clocks to ensure that they are not damaged due to abrupt stopping. All winding squares must be wound on striking and chiming bracket clocks.

Popular Antique Bracket Clock Makers

The following list outlines some popular antique bracket clock makers:

  • John Meek
  • Joseph Blundy
  • Grimalde and Johnson
  • Jones of London
  • Joseph Durward
  • John Leumas
  • Dwerrihouse and Carter
  • William Smith
  • John Ellicott
  • Robert Wood
  • Mappin and Webb

Finding Antique Bracket Clocks on eBay

Once you determine the type of antique bracket clock you want to purchase, visit the Antiques portal on eBay, then click on Antique Clocks and start searching item listings. The Categories list on the left-hand side of the eBay page helps to narrow the search.

Searching for Antique Bracket Clocks on eBay

Search eBay listing titles for specific words when shopping for antique bracket clocks. For example, to find Mappin and Webb Oak Bracket Clock, type ‘Mappin and Webb Oak Bracket Clock’ into the search box, and then click the Advanced button to customise the results. Also visit eBay’s Search Tipspage for more advice on searching for antique bracket clocks with keywords. If you can’t find the exact bracket clock you want, try shopping eBay Stores.

Conclusion

Antique bracket clocks from the 17th and 18th century are a testament to beautiful design and handmade craftsmanship. These clocks can be a valuable addition to any collection, and add grace and elegance to any décor. It is important to conduct a bit of research on antique bracket clocks to help become familiar with the various components and parts that will help identify a genuine specimen. Consider the condition, performance, and style before purchasing an antique bracket clock to help determine its value. Once you have collected this information, you can buy an antique bracket clock safely and securely on eBay.

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