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Create Your Pendulum Wish list for Christmas

If you could choose any Christmas present, what would it be? For many of us, it might be something beautiful or frivolous that we would never buy for ourselves. For others, perhaps something useful. Well, how about something that is both beautiful and useful, and will also, in due course, become a family heirloom? Have you considered putting an antique clock on your wish list? Pendulum of Mayfair have a range of beautiful antique clocks for sale, ranging from longcase clocks, otherwise known as grandfather clocks, through bracket clocks and wall clocks, to carriage clocks, so you can choose just the right clock for your home and the space available.

Do you want a large freestanding clock? Go for a grandfather clock. If you want a clock for your wall, you can choose either a longer case hanging clock or a round clock, rather like the modern wall clocks now available, but perhaps more beautiful. And if you want something to sit on a table or mantelpiece, have a look at the range of bracket clocks and carriage clocks available. You’ll be sure to find something that will fit the space you have in mind!

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English Lantern Clocks

A typical verge 17th century lantern clock with alarm feature to dial centre. These clocks are hung from a hook on the wall and they have one weight which drives both the striking side and going side of mechanism. As a result these clocks go for 30 hours or less on a full wind.

The development of Lantern Clocks

As this is such a broad subject for discussion, I can only give a few important pointers in the development of English Lantern Clocks.  I will try and answer any questions you may have through my main website. The earliest practical timekeepers in homes in this country were the lantern clocks. They deserve discussion and I will do my best in a short piece to give a useful insight into their manufacture/ design and dates.

What is in the name, Lantern Clock?

The name Lantern Clocks always causes much debate. Some people suggest the word derives from a corruption of the word Latten, which used to describe copper alloys, much like brass in the Middle Ages. It is also suggested the name comes from the fact that the clocks shape looks like a rectangular lantern from the period.  In any event Lantern clocks, which are a type of weight driven clock hanging usually from the wall. They came into homes in this country from about C1600 remaining very popular until the 19 th century. You will see many copies of these types of antique clock sold today, many with spring driven movements.

Made of Brass

Lantern clocks were made almost exclusively of brass, you will only find a few posts within the movement and the clock hands made of iron. Sometimes even the antique clock hand will be cut from brass. These clocks generally have a single hand to tell the time. The movements are of a maximum of 30 hours duration. I have never seen a period ‘8-day’ example. These clocks strike the hours on a single bell and are wound from a rope system. Occasionally you will have an alarm feature to the centre of the dial. This alarm feature has sometimes been removed over the years.

(h3>Mechanisms of Lantern Clocks

The earliest mechanisms of these clocks have a balance wheel form of escapement. The development then continues onto the verge escapement and small bob pendulum. The problem with both these methods is accuracy for timekeeping is not great. It was the development of the long pendulum by Huygens in 1656 that further improved these clocks.  Accuracy of about 15 minutes per day was expected with an early balance wheel escapement lantern clocks. Probably 5/10 minutes per day with the early verge escapements. Then onto and to under a minute or so with the anchor escapements and long pendulum.

The long pendulum – Christian Huygens

The invention of the long pendulum was both good and bad for the humble lantern clock. It is clear some of the earliest provincial grandfather clocks were lantern clocks in wood cases shaped very much like coffins. As development continued antique grandfather clock production slowly wiped out the need for lantern clocks. Few lantern clocks tend to be made during the 18th century.

Original lantern clocks dating back to the 17th century are rare and these are highly sought after and collectible. The Victorians unfortunately changed many of the movements of these 17th century lantern clocks. They put key wind late movements to them. I often see these clocks around the salerooms and it makes me sad. I have collected a number of genuine 17th century lantern clocks and many are pictured in the reknowned book by George White on English Lantern Clocks. If you wish to do a detailed study on these exceptional clocks I recommend reading this book. Alternatively visit our website for more information.


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Vienna or German Wall Clock ?

The term ‘Vienna Regulator’ wall clock is commonly used to describe a narrow weight driven wall clock. All these clocks seem bundled together in one big group. This is wrong in my opinion. There should be a clear differentiation between a true ‘Vienna Regulator’ clock and the later ‘Vienna Style Regulator’ wall clock or properly described as a ‘German  Regulator’ wall clock.

Austrian or German Wall Regulator Clocks

Vienna regulator wall clocks are very special and an original example can be very expensive. These clocks were manufactured throughout the 19th century, but most were made from about C1800 to C1850. These clocks were  hand made and of very fine quality. These clocks are also very simple and very elegant. As the value of clocks like this are high many of these type of clocks coming onto the market in recent years are copies. Only buy an early Vienna wall clock from a specialist antique clock dealer. They should give you a money back guarantee that it is genuine and fully restored.

Quality decreases as clocks get more modern

German wall regulators can still be nice clocks. I particularly like the first 10 or 20 years they were made from about C 1860. After C 1880 these clocks become very ornate and the quality tends to decrease. These clocks were made in factories specifically set up to produce them. With the typical German efficiency, lots of these clocks were produced. The value is alot lower than the earlier Austrian handmade examples.


How to tell the difference?

I often get asked how do you tell if I have got a German wall regulator or an earlier Austrian example. The easiest way you can tell the difference is that German weight driven wall clocks often have an imitation second hand to the dial. Austrian wall clocks did not normally use this feature, unless the clock could actually beat seconds. A seconds pendulum means the pendulum will need to be about 1 meter long.

Is it a true seconds indicator?

If you timed the period of 1 rotation on a German wall clock of the so called seconds hand, it will take about 40 seconds. It was in effect just a gimmick, put on the dial just for looks. The Austrians were purists and did not do this. An example of a true Austrian Vienna wall clock will a proper seconds hand is pictured above. You will notice the clock is very long. You will also see two examples below.A German wall regulator and an Austrian vienna regulator. See if you can see which one is which from my reasoning above.

Daniel Clements