Posted on

Antique Clock Descriptions

Antique Bracket Clock
Antique Mantel Clock














Alot of people get confused why there are so many names to describe certain antique clocks. I noticed recently on Wikipedia for a search for Longcase clocks you will see they also get regularly called grandfather or tall-case clocks.

Grandfather, Longcase or Tallcase Clocks

Tall-case is a name commonly used for a grandfather clock in the USA. On the Wikipedia site it also mentions the terms grandmother and grand-daughter clocks. It informs us that the difference is as a result of the height. This is true to some extent as clearly grand-daughter clocks are smaller than their larger counterpart, the grandfather. It would be to simplistic to take this as the only reason for the name change though.

Apprentice Piece or Grand-daughter Clock

For instance if you had a small 18th century oak longcase clock under 6ft, you would not call this a grandmother clock. All 17th and 18th century clocks can only really be described as either a longcase , grandfather or as people from USA like to say tall-case clocks.

The date of manufacture and height is important

The date is also important when describing antique clocks. Grandmother and grand-daughter clocks were really smaller examples produced post C1880. We have some very small C1790 floor standing clocks. I would call these miniature longcase clocks or apprentice pieces. The wording can get blurred here to some extent. It would not be unheard of to call these 18th grand-daughter clocks but I think period grand-daughter clocks (18th century) need to be differentiated from the later counterparts. (19th and 20th century).

Bracket or Mantel Clocks

I would like to finish this blog about the differences between what I call bracket clocks and mantel clocks. Again the easy difference is an age thing. 17th / 18th and clocks up to about C1850 will be commonly called antique bracket clocks. Later clocks from about C1850 to modern day examples are called mantel clocks. All bracket clocks will have English quality fusee movements.

English, German or French Movements

The mantel clocks can have going barrel English, German movement or possibly French movements. From the term bracket clocks you will assume no doubt that the difference is the earlier clocks had a seperate wall bracket that they stood on. This is not the case as only some bracket clocks were produced with actual brackets. Most were put on the large Georgian fireplaces. From a simplistic point of view if the clock has a fusee movement it would normally be called a bracket clock. Most mantel clocks do not have fusee movements.

Fusee Movements

17th ,18th and early 19th  century fusee antique bracket clocks are highly sought after. When they were introduced they were a real technological achievement. They actually were more expensive than the equivalent grandfather, only the top 5% of gentry could afford such clocks.

Daniel R Clements