Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year 2018!

It seems I'm starting off the new year pretty well! It's only the very first day of 2018 and I've already bought a clock!



This is a Seth Thomas (Plymouth Hollow era, pre-1865) 30 hour column clock that is generally referred to as a "Style 1". It's a clock that's been on my wish list for several years now. Seth Thomas made many different column clocks in many sizes and styles (and over many decades), but there are generally 3 main styles that use a standard ogee movement. This one is the earliest and most popular style (thousands of these were made). Bill Stoddard has compiled a lot of useful information on the production dates of Seth Thomas clocks, dials, and movements. I use his information fairly often, and you can check out here: https://clockhistory.com/sethThomas/products/30HourBrassWeight/index.html

This column clock is the smaller (and original) version of this rare 8 day column clock that I also own:
https://jcclocks.blogspot.ca/2014/01/very-rare-seth-thomas-8-day-column_26.html

The columns on these clocks came in different finishes as well (wood, gold, gold with ringed decoration, and tortoise shell). Seth Thomas was not the only maker who offered this case style, but they were the first. I have seen some by Jerome / New Haven, E.N. Welch, and a few others.

That said, this particular clock is in pretty TERRIBLE condition. BUT, pretty much all of of the parts are there, and the seller was only asking 30$ CAD for it. He even dropped it off for me! I can't ask for any better than that! I found the clock in the local online classified ads and it had only been posted for 22 minutes! I e-mailed the seller right away and he dropped it off this afternoon. I'm already itching to work on it, but I have a few other clocks to work on first.



Some of the pros:
- Original dial
- Original movement
- Original hands
- Pendulum (small but old and period - not 100% sure if it's original)
- Both weights present
- Hardly any veneer chips (only 3 small ones)
- Nice label (99% complete)
- Price!

Cons:

- The entire bottom board was (poorly) replaced
- No tablet
- The dial is quite flaky
- The finish is very lumpy, thick, alligatored, and covered in paint smears (both white and beige)
- Case parts are loose and the whole thing will need to be reglued/reassembled
- Large chip in the original dial glass
- Alarm movement is missing (?)
- Smells like an ashtray

Overall, pretty good, and I'm very happy with the purchase.

I think this dial might be a good candidate for some fairly elaborate restoration/touch-up work.



The alarm setup is confusing me a little. The bell seems quite shiny, but it seems to match others I've seen on Seth Thomas clocks, and there's a heavy layer of dust on the top part of it. The wood block(s) for the alarm are also very unusual. I haven't found any other examples of Plymouth Hollow era clocks with alarms, let alone alarms held in place with wood blocks. Most ST alarms have projecting brass feet on them for mounting. The key in the photo is not original (and it's covered in solder).
November 2019 EDIT: I have come to realize that the alarm bits are not original to the clock and don't appear to have ever been fully fitted to the movement for use.



The movement is a standard "old" but not super early ST Plymouth movement. The earliest ones have a crescent shaped hammer, while the later ones have screws for the corner posts rather than pins. The label says Steam Press of Elihu Geer 10 State Street, which dates the clock between 1850-1855 which is consistent with the movement.





The movement is ABSOLUTELY FILTHY, however, I see no botch repairs or solder, and it actually RUNS in this condition. The verge stem seems a bit loose, and there isn't much swing to the pendulum (very narrow arc), but it shouldn't need much more than a regular tune-up (cleaning and maybe a few bushings).



This shows the condition of the finish quite clearly. I am very likely going to strip this case and refinish it with shellac. It will basically be a complete top to bottom restoration. Another reason for the refinish is that matching the new bottom board would be very difficult. It's also impossible to see the beautiful mahogany under this mess. This is not at all a rare clock, so I'm not worried about losing value.





One of the small veneer chips at the door latch. It's so small that I might only do a putty repair here.



The large chip in the dial glass. I will try to rotate the glass 180 degrees, and hopefully this will be hidden a bit more by the upper door trim. I will not replace the glass even if it's damaged, since it's the original (nice and wavy). The lower glass is modern and will be removed.



The lower moulding is completely loose, and you can see the poorly rebuilt base (not thick enough, and the edge should be squared). This replacement bottom is held in place with screws underneath, so hopefully they didn't use much (or any) glue and it will be easy to remove.





This corner of the door might need attention. The other corners seem fine.

2 comments:

  1. I would do the same, re-glue and strip the case right down. I have not been to Bill's site but it looks very helpful. Looking forward to seeing the finished product.

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    1. It might be a while, Ron. I am still working on the Wadsworth pillar and scroll, and I have a notoriously bad habit of starting too many projects at the same time, so I want to leave this one alone for now.

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