Saturday, January 11, 2014

Very Rare Seth Thomas 8 Day Column Clock - Restoration Notes

Restoration Notes

One of the best things to do when undertaking any restoration, is RESEARCH. Researching is one of the most important things you can do if you want to be able to successfully restore a clock or any other type of antique item. Find similar examples, look through books, and equip yourself with as much information as you can find. I've had this clock for several years, and I've stockpiled dozens of photos in order to help with my restoration.

For those who are more familiar with Seth Thomas clocks, you may instantly recognize this particular clock case as one designed after the 30 hour "column type #1", of which you can see a few examples below. Several Seth Thomas clocks were made with columns, and there are 3 similar "styles" which are outlined here:

This first clock is in pristine condition, and has an early hand-painted tablet.

This particular clock has incorrect hands, but is otherwise in nice original condition.

While these column clocks are beautiful, they are quite easy to find, and I have seen probably over 100 in the past 5+ years. Since acquiring this particular 8 day version, however, I have NEVER come across another like it.

The key difference with my clock, is the overall size. The case is much taller, and the elements are sized-up to suit, including larger columns, column base/top blocks, and wider mouldings. The main difference, however, is visible in the size of the lower door glass.

I find it unusual that the company would have made efforts to design this larger version, but not made more of them widely available. Patterns and detailed drawings would have needed to be made, and I'm still wondering whether or not this clock is a unique piece.

In my research regarding the James Brice over-pasted label, I was able to find this New York 4 column clock. What's particularly interesting about this clock is that it has the same style of early dial, which has a single outer ring around the minute circle, dots for minutes, and tapered numerals 3,4,7,& 8. I'm not sure who manufactured this particular clock, since there were no images of the movement. It appears as though Mr. Brice was simply a retailer.

It would be interesting to know more about this clock. The label is a good clue, but I don't immediately recognize the border. These 4 column clocks were made by several companies, including Seth Thomas, Ansonia, William S. Johnson, Sperry and Shaw, F. C. Andrews, and others. The label does not match Ansonia or W.S.J. labels of the period. The label also doesn't seem like a match to Seth Thomas, but the dial does.

Regarding the details of the dial, you can visit the link posted above, and see the dial section. On that page, you will note that the early Seth Thomas dials with tapered numerals have a double ring around the outside minute circle, and the later dials with single lines do not have the tapered numerals. My dial seems to fall between the 1842-43 style, and the 1850-55 style. It is currently of an unknown date.

The label as well as the movement indicate a Plymouth Hollow clock, therefore the clock was definitely made between 1842 and 1865. Based on the earlier design of the label, I would lean towards late 1840s, and early 1850s.

Based on other similar clocks (having the same labels and similar dials) the clock would have had a hand painted/stencilled Fenn type tablet.

Here are a few good examples of early Seth Thomas stencilled tablets. I particularly like the design on this ogee clock, and I may decide to use it as a pattern for my clock.

These two are from 30 hour column clocks (as above):

These two are from 30 hour ogee clocks:

The list of repairs needed for the clock are as follows:

- Disassemble the case.
- Scrape and remove new carpenter's glue.
- Reassemble the case using hide glue.
- Replace missing veneer.
- Repair label fragments.
- Reglue door frame.
- Veneer top cornice (which I had previously fabricated several years ago).
- Stain, colour match, and shellac new repairs.
- Paint new reproduction stencilled tablet.
- Touch-up dial.
- Repair movement.

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