We endeavour to maintain a good cross section of grandfather clock styles in stock which are of 8 day or month duration. The most popular wood or finish used for longcase clocks was either oak, mahogany, walnut, marquetry or lacquered. Depending on the age of the particular antique clock, grandfather clock dials are either painted, brass or silvered with features such as moonphase, strike/silent, automata, seconds and date.
A large selection of mercurial stick and wheel barometers are also available to view from the 18th & 19th centuries along with antique bracket clocks & wall clocks. All of our grandfather clocks, barometers, bracket clocks and wall clocks can either be viewed at our Galleries in Wiltshire or on our website, which is updated regularly including the removal of all sold stock.
Only the most skilful and experienced specialists work on our antique clocks and barometers when necessary, and do so to the highest standards. Longcase clocks are delivered by our own vehicles in the UK free of charge, together with an installation expert who will ensure that your clock is properly commissioned. All antique clock and barometer purchases are guaranteed for twelve months.
Our opening hours are by appointment only.
We are a member of LAPADA, The Association of Art and Antique Dealers, which is the UK's largest association of professional dealers in antiques and works of art.
In this article we will concentrate on the London grandfather clock. During the late 17th century the clockmakers of the time experimented to produce an antique clock that was a good timekeeper, subsequently the anchor escapement was invented. It was found to be a very good time keeper but due to the longer pendulum being exposed to the elements the idea of enclosing everything inside a wooden case was thought of.
The first antique clocks designs were very basic and were made for a purpose and not to be decorative in any way. These designs evolved quickly and the first recognisable grandfather clocks were being made by makers like Edward East and Fromanteel during the 1670s. The cases were very slender in design, made principally of oak or pine and veneered in fruitwood which was then ebonised to create a black polished finish.
Many of these early antique clocks were of 30 hour duration but the 8 day and month duration grandfather clocks followed very closely. There were even some made that were of year duration. These antique clocks are very rare and were made by the famous makers of the time such as Quare and Tompion who were working from the 1680s. A number of longcase clocks by these makers are in the Royal collection.
Thomas Tompion is widely regarded as a very famous maker. All of his movements were of the highest quality and some of them very complicated in design. One of the reasons he is very highly thought of is because of the high standards he set. He also numbered his movements along with the cases. The only maker to do this other than Tompion was George Graham who was his Partner in the business. When Tompion died in 1713 Graham continued the same numbering sequence.
The first type of dial used for the grandfather clock was the square brass dial (separate chapter ring and brass spandrels to the corners) used approximately between the 1670s to 1730. As more features were required the dials were made with an arch to the top (shallow at first) which would contain features such as strike/silent, phases of the moon, date and time regulation. Sometimes just the name of the maker was shown. The dials on these early grandfather clocks were also very decorative with half hour markings on the chapter ring, ringed winding holes, engraving to the edges of the dial and elaborate signatures either on a cartouche to the centre or on the chapter ring.
As a general rule all London grandfather clocks have five pillars between the plates. Most provincial antique clocks have only four pillars. This was a sign of quality and also kept the movement more stable and assisted the clockmaker when he was assembling the movement.
The wood being used at this period was mainly an oak carcass with either walnut or marquetry veneer and sometimes ebonised. Mahogany virtually took over completely during the 1760s and the first London mahogany grandfather clocks started to evolve. These had features such as brass reeded pillars to the trunk and sometimes to the base. This feature was also repeated on the hood pillars. They also had the classical pagoda top with three brass finials making these antique clocks over 8ft tall. Lacquered cases were also very popular throughout the 18th century. This again was a mainly oak carcass but decorated with Oriental designs.
By the 1770s the painted dial had been introduced and towards the end of the 18th century this had become much more popular and eventually replaced the full brass dial. Also around this period the flat silvered dial was introduced in London and throughout the country. This consisted of a flat brass dial which was silvered. This type of dial was also used with the fashionable round dial commonly used with Regulators. The cases also became smaller and plainer at this stage with fewer finials and clean straight lines. In the early 19th century the production of grandfather clocks in London started to slow down. The reasons for this are unclear but the rest of the country started to produce grandfather clocks in huge numbers especially in the West Country and the Midlands.
We have therefore a period from approximately 1670 to 1870 when the grandfather clock evolved. After this period grandfather clocks were still manufactured but the style that was used was a reproduction of styles used in the previous 200 years.
Antique Moonphase Longcase/Grandfather clocks were introduced during the first part of the 18th century when the square dial was first produced with an arch. The first known moonphases appear to be the Penny Moon which was displayed in the arch of the clock within a silvered brass ring...more
Antique Oak longcase clocks were virtually made throughout the whole of the UK but were very rarely made in London. The very first longcase clocks in the 17th century were made from a mixture of oak and pine but most of these were finished with a black ebonised polish...more
Antique mahogany longcase clocks come in all different shapes and sizes and were virtually made all over the UK. Mahogany was imported from South America C.1720 but was not widely used for clock cases until C.1740. As it became more popular in London, it subsequently was used in the provincial areas later in the 18th century...more
Antique marquetry longcase clocks were introduced towards the end of the 17th century, the first examples being made in C.1675. They followed the ebony veneered or ebonised longcase clock. They were made with a large number of woods to obtain the different colours and definition and combined with walnut, Olivewood and Laburnum...more