Sunday, April 1, 2018

Repairing and Restoring Comtoise Pendulums (Two Examples)

French comtoise (sometimes called Morbier) clock pendulums tend to be large, bulky, and quite fragile. The bobs tend to be made from very thin hammered or pressed brass, and it's very common to see these all buckled or caved-in. They CAN be repaired (as shown below), but the procedures involve uncrimping the edges, and this can only be done once, maybe twice at the most, as the brass will then be too fragile to bend again.

In this post I will show 2 examples of comtoise pendulums that I repaired, but I have done 3 of these so far (see the part 2 post where I explain the same procedure: https://jcclocks.blogspot.ca/2015/03/comtoise-clock-restoration-part-2.html)

Here is pendulum No.1 before:

This pendulum was in fairly decent shape, except for some rust, bad rivets, and the buckles in the bob.

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The top had an extension added (poorly)

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Rust, masking tape, and some buckling to the back as well.

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The procedure is simple, but the execution takes patience and a delicate touch. To start, everything (as much as possible) needs to come apart. With this pendulum, the pins/rivets had to be removed. These can be knocked out (on this particular pendulum).

The bottom "T" shaped assembly would not come apart easily, and I didn't find the need to take the top portion apart (pins/rivets were still good).

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I have more detailed "in between" photos of the next pendulum, but to recap, the bob was carefully uncrimped (as little as possible), the dents removed with light blows on the interior surface, with the front paid over some leather. The pendulum rods and fittings were cleaned up with fine wire wool, and the bob was polished. The back was cleaned of the tape residue, and it was repainted in black.

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Since I haven't fitted this to a clock yet (it did not work out for the clock I wanted to pair it with) I have left the current extension with the bad screws. Once it's fitted to a clock the top piece will be the correct length, and it will be riveted in place with brass rivets.

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Pendulum No.2 before:

This second pendulum is a fancier Lyre version with a large 11" bob. The pendulum was a very lucky find for 25$ in a nearby city, and I had a friend pick it up for me. IT was in fairly good shape aside from the bob, which was badly dented and scarred.

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This particular pendulum was weighted with clipped pieces of lead flashing (which was kept).

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This bob required a lot of work to take the dents out. Some were hammered from the front, with most from the back. All the scratches are from pushing and dragging the face of the hammer across the surface. I would say that about 95% of the bumps were removed. The same process described in the link at the beginning was followed. Light hammering against a hard surface, with a piece of leather in between, and using a smooth faced hammer. For the face-hammering, this was done very carefully on top of a domed/curved surface (I used an old steel wok).

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I did not want to brightly polish this bob, so I only went over it a little bit with very fine 0000 wire wool.

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This pendulum turned out to be a near perfect match with the Angels comtoise, seen here: https://jcclocks.blogspot.ca/2015/04/angels-comtoise-part-3-finished-clock.html

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Highly Unusual C. & N. Jerome Wooden Works Clock

I recently purchased an extremely rare and unusual clock made by C. & N. Jerome. If you're an avid reader of mine you will know 2 things: No 1:I avoid using "rare" to describe clocks as much as possible, since many were mass produced, and the term tends to be over used. No 2: I tend to stumble upon rare/unique oddball clocks fairly frequently. I was immediately intrigued by this clock based on the case/construction details, which don't match anything I've seen to date. In addition to the unusual case design, the clock also features several other bizarre quirks, which I'll describe.

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First, the case has short columns with tall plinth blocks. This (all on its own) is by far the most unusual feature on the entire clock, and I have found only ONE OTHER wooden works clock with similar tall plinth blocks.

The case also uses a 3-part (3 glass/3 division) door. This is not super unusual, but it is much less frequently found on typical wooden works clock cases. Jerome in particular (through various partnerships and eras) was especially fond of this case feature, and I have several examples of clocks with 3 part doors between the 1830s, all the way to ogee clocks in the 1880s (made by New Haven by this date).

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The lock will need a replacement key.

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The next unusual feature is the use of a partially-painted zinc dial. Most similar early clocks with partially painted dials (with unpainted exposed zinc) tend to be of the ogee type (roughly 9 inches square). This particular dial is 11.5" square, and the paint work and patina both suggest at LEAST 1840s manufacture, HOWEVER, I'm unable to tell with 100% certainty if this dial is original to this clock due to the presence of extra holes in the dial support rails. If the dial is a later swap, it's fairly clear that it has been in this clock case for a very long time, as the shadow lines from the door frame all line up perfectly with the dial.

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Another feature that is unusual is the presence/use of brass hands. These appear to be period hands (stamped/factory made), but it is difficult to be 100% sure, as brass ages and tarnishes fairly easily. I know from research that brass hands WERE made in the period (in the 1830s) but they tend to be found largely on "special" clocks, or paired with clock dials that have a lot of black decoration (often with gold numerals on a black background rather than black ones over gold).

The movement appears to ID as:
8.132 Ephraim Downes (Jeromes & Darrow are listed as a user, but not C & N Jerome)
8.133 Atkins & Downs (no matching makers)
8.134 E & G W Bartholomew (no matching makers)

Out of those options, (and assuming the movement is original) the Jerome and Darrow connection is the only one that makes sense.

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Other notes:
The dial surround is actually a lovely (yet faded) teal blue.
The top left pulley hole has been chewed-up by a mouse (which doesn't bother me).
The upper right chimney, and left side return piece are somewhat poor replacements made from birch (not veneered). These will be rebuilt.
Slightly less common circular Terry door lock in brass.
Centre panel appears to be original paint, and in plain black (which is VERY unusual).
Upper and lower glass appears to have been replaced, and the putty in both is newer.
Lovely period pendulum bob.
Lovely door lock escutcheon.
Very nice/clear stenciling on the case/splat (top splat will be repaired and it should have 3 bumps).
Evidence on the two plinths of LATER applied gold paint (sloppily applied).
Backboard has horizontal planks.
Surprisingly little veneer damage and/or repairs (just some losses on lower front board).
Dates to approximately 1834-1839, depending which source you look at.
Label is near mint. P. Canfield Printer, Hartford.
The clock uses a less common early spiral gong, rather than a cast iron bell. The gong wire is also fairly heavy gauge (compare it to the hammer stem wire in the photos).
The height of the main body of the clock is 25.75" to the top board (not counting the splat elements). Same height as a standard ogee, and the same height as the Elbridge Atkins (both are shorter than a standard wooden works case).

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Note shadow lines around the dial edges.

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I would love to know about any other examples you may know about. I have done a LOT of digging, but have only turned up ONE other clock (as mentioned) with tall plinth blocks similar to this one. That one is shown below, and it's a Jerome & Darrow in a slightly fancier case, with similar design features.

Here is the only similar clock I found, which is by Jeromes & Darrow (the partnership just before C. & N. Jerome).

Jeromes & Darrow Large Column Clock 01