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Argyle Chair
Charles Rennie Macintosh

Glossary of Antique Clock Styles
Page 1

Advertising Clock Wall or shelf clocks that display advertising somewhere on their clock dial or case.

Animated Clock A clock with moving parts that displays the actions of a person, animal or object.

Anniversary Clock A clock that needs winding approximately once per year. Though anniversary clocks, also known as “400-day” clocks, existed as early as the 17th century, it wasn’t until 1829 that an American inventor patented a special type of pendulum that required very little power, making small 400-day clocks possible. Called a torsion pendulum, it consists of a thread suspending a weight which rotates horizontally in both clockwise and counterclockwise directions. Often placed under a glass dome, these clocks gained popularity in the 1880's when European factories produced many of them. An American importer copyrighted the name "Anniversary Clock" in 1904 to promote giving clocks as gifts that would be wound on the anniversary of a birthday, wedding, or other annual event.

Atmos Clock A shelf clock powered by changes in atmospheric pressure and temperature which supplied continual winding power to the movement, keeping the clock running for long periods of time without attention.

Balloon Clock A shelf clock with a case shaped like the hot-air balloons of the late 18th century.

Banjo Clock A wall clock with a case like a banjo. The shape derived from a new type of clock patented by Simon Willard of Roxbury, Massachusetts, in 1802. Originally known as the "Improved" or "Patent" Timepiece, it became known as a banjo clock in the 20th century. Lots of reproductions exist.

Beehive Clock Popular from the late 1840's to the early 20th century, this shelf clock features a case whose sides curve upward and meet at a peak, reminiscent of a beehive.

Black Mantel Clock Especially popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this rectangular shelf clock features a black case made of marble, slate, onyx, or painted iron. Often makers painted a wooden case to imitate black marble or onyx. These styles and materials were.

Blinker Clock A shelf or wall clock with a case in the shape of a human figure or animal whose eyes blink, rotate or move in unison with the clock escapement.

Bracket Clock What the British call a shelf or table clock. The term originally referred to early clocks that had to be set high on a bracket or shelf, allowing its long weights ample room to drop.

Calendar Clock A wall, shelf, or longcase clock that shows the date, often including the day, month and year or any combination. Double-dial calendar clocks are usually wall clocks with a round calendar dial, placed separately under the time dial.

Carriage Clock An 18th century version fo the modern "travel alarm" clock, the spring-driven carriage clock, standing four to five inches tall, was easily carried when traveling. The small, upright rectangular case typically has a brass frame with four glass sides and top and a carrying handle. Many have alarms and/or striking work. The French made these in abundance from 1850 to about 1890.

China or Porcelain Clock A shelf clock with a case made of pottery or porcelain. One company usually made the case while another made the works. When there’s a case manufacturer's mark, it’s usually on the bottom or back of the case.

Column Clock All these terms refer to similar, but distinct, Empire-influenced styles of American shelf clocks developed in the early 19th century. The basic form has a rectangular case with a door in front flanked by two often gilded or ebonized columns. The door has a clear glass panel in the top section and a reverse-painted glass or mirrored "looking glass" bottom section. Variations include cases with a decorative splat above the dial, called a "column and splat" or "transitional" clocks, and ones with a three-section front which might include a painting and a mirror are known as "triple decker" clocks.

Column & Splat Clock See Column Clock.

Crystal Regulator Clock An upright, rectangular shelf clock dating from the 19th century, featuring glass panels on each side, completely exposing the interior. Originally, crystal regulators had extremely accurate movements with a compensated pendulum consisting of two small glass vials filled with mercury. With the rise in popularity of these clocks, American and German companies produced cheaper, less accurate clocks in the same sty;le, but with imitation mercury pendulums which were really just polished metal cylinders.

Cuckoo Clock A wall and sometimes a shelf clock which houses a small wooden cuckoo bird that emerges from a small door at the top to announce the hours and half hours with its "cuckoo" call, usually accompanied by a gong. A German invention of 1730, these became popular between 1850 and 1875. Commonly weight driven, some cuckoo clocks have elaborately carved wooden cases. Modern reproductions often have molded plastic cases and quartz movements.

Dial Clock A spring-wound or electric wall-mounted clock with a dial enclosed by a simple wood or metal surround that’s usually circular but can be hexagonal. Designed to be easily read in public places, such as schools, factories, offices and railway stations.

Drop Dial Clock A dial clock with a trunk extension that houses a pendulum. The trunk usually has a door with a glass window, allowing the pendulum¹s movement to be easily adjusted and seen. People often call this type of clock by other names, depending on shape of the dial case and the length of the trunk. These include octagon or round drop, short or long drop. American drop trunk clocks, often called "Schoolhouse" clocks because of their widespread use in schools, were just as common in post offices, saloons, and other public places.

Drop Trunk Clock See Drop Dial Clock.

Figural Clock A shelf clock featuring a statue or figure of an animal or person as part of its case design. Often the persons portray figures from myths or of historical significance.

Figure-Eight Clock A wall clock with a circular dial and a circular drop trunk, giving its case the appearance of a figure-eight.

Gallery Clock See Dial Clock.

Garnitures A matched set, usually three pieces, consisting of a clock standing between two vases, open-top or covered urns, figures, candlesticks or candelabra, that people placed on a fireplace mantel.

Gingerbread Clock An inexpensive American shelf clock, produced in large quantities after 1875, which often sat on a shelf in the kitchens of lower and middle class homes. Usually made of oak or walnut; with highly ornate press-molded and incised wings and tops from which they got their "Gingerbread" nickname.

Gothic Clock A shelf clock with a pointed top case, in the style of Gothic architecture; often accentuated by rosettes, tracery, or other Gothic style ornamentation.

Grandfather Clock The popular term for a floor-standing, longcase clock, derived from a song composed by an American songwriter around 1875. The song begins with the words: "Oh my grandfather's clock was too tall for the shelf so it stood ninety years on the floor. It was taller by half than the old man himself, though it weighed no a pennyweight more..." and ending with the lyrics: "the clock stopped, never to run again, when the old man died." The term "grandfather" clock has been used ever since to refer to longcase clocks.

Grandmother Clock A shorter version of the "grandfather" or longcase clock that stands 60 to 70 inches tall.

Granddaughter Clock A shorter version of the "grandmother" clock that stands 42 to 54 inches tall.

Kitchen Clock See Gingerbread Clock.

Lantern Clock An English weight-driven shelf clock style dating from the early 17th century. One of the first clocks with a movement and external structure made predominantly from brass instead of iron or wood. Although the clock’s shape looks like a lantern, the derivation of the name probably comes from the French word "laiton," meaning brass. The earliest lantern clocks had striking mechanisms, but clockmakers added alarms later in the 17th century. Some lantern clocks had pendulums, and could be hung on the wall.

Longcase Clock, Long Clock A floor-standing clock, first made in the mid-17th century, with a weight-driven movement housed in its hood or upper section, which required a long case to allow the weights to drop an adequate distance.;. Also called a Tall Case Clock or a Grandfather Clock.

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