We have been in the antique clock business for over 40 years. It is true to say enamel dial antique clocks are rare. You can see them occasionally on bracket clocks in the 18th century. Searching for examples is hard. It is like finding a needle in a haystack however finding a true enamel dial on a grandfather clock.
True Enamel or Painted Dials
If you undertook a search for enamel dial grandfather clock you will find lots of listings. Dealers loosely apply the term to a standard white painted dial. These clocks with white painted dials started manufacture in Birmingham with Wilson and Osborne from around C1772. It was true to say the Clockmakers Company in the early days frowned on achievements outside London. Clock makers tried and most times failed to make alternatives. One alternative was a true enamel dial. True enamel dials such as the superb example pictured here was made from a mixture of glass, tin oxide, borax, peat ashes and salt.
Hard to fire large pieces of enamel
A complex mix of substances was then melted and turned into moulds to harden. This mixture was then ground to a powder and mixed with water. The enamel was then mixed with lavender oil to make it adhere to the copper dial plate. This mixture was applied to the dial and then the dial was fired at high temperatures in a clay oven. The temperature was carefully monitored and then the dial was cooled very slowly to prevent any cracking.
Time Consuming Process
I hope you agree a process that was very time consuming and complex. To get this to work on a large dial it was very hard. That is why in this case you will see the arch is fired separately. I am sure the risks of cracking with a 12 inch piece of square enamel was a large enough risk. The lovely painted work and decoration you will see on this dial is the result of further firings. Rose Vermillion being one of the hardest colours to apply.
This is an outstanding and very rare clock with a true enamel dial. It has been mentioned the maker of these rare enamel dials was the brother of the famous clockmaker James Tregent. He was called Anthony Tregent. For further information please view the book Theelke, Anthony; Faces of Mystery. This is a lovely flame mahogany veneered grandfather clock with strike silent feature to the arch. The movement is of ‘8-day’ duration and strikes the hours on a single bell. Superb London quality case and typical high quality movement features.