At Canonbury Antiques we carry a variety of antique clock sets of different ages and styles, predominantly French. These include mantel and carriage clocks, grandfather and long case clocks and garniture sets. A lot of our clocks are French as we source a lot of our pieces on the continent, particularly at the Paris antiques markets. French time pieces are great, as when they were first made in the mid eighteenth century the designs of the clocks often matched the furniture styles of the day - including Louis XVI and Empire - and hence are very ornate and profusely decorated with classical motifs and emblems such as cherubs, angels and maidens. Another popular look are antique clock garniture sets. A garniture is a collection of decorative objects designed to go together as a set, typically including a carriage or mantel clock as the centrepiece. Typically the time piece will be flanked by a pair of candelabras or perhaps a pair of tureens, in stone, gilt, marble or ormolu or whatever the material is to match the clock. They can really make an interiors scheme and are very popular with high end interior designers.
Some antique clocks are over hundreds of years old and were handmade without using electric tools or computerized machines. An antique mantel clock makes use of key winding mechanism which could be inherently inaccurate compared to electronic watches. Today, modern mechanical clocks are made with machines that can cut through equipment with unbelievable precision. On the other hand, antique mantel clocks are difficult to make as they were cut with the aid of hand tools. If you have an antique carriage clock with a couple of minutes accuracy per week, you don’t need to adjust that. Except if you are a clock expert, you might not get accuracy greater than that.
Every time the pendulum of your cherub clock makes a complete back and forth swing, two teeth are released from the escape wheel with the minute hand advancing - one-sixtieth of a minute. The more rapidly the pendulum swings, the faster the minute hand will turn.
In physics, we were told that the pendulum’s length determines how fast it swings, a shorter pendulum swings faster than a longer one. The length of a pendulum can be changed by either lowering or raising the pendulum bob. By raising the bob, the clock will run faster. Likewise, lowering the bob will make the clock run slower. This can be compared to a dog's tail; shorter tails wags faster than longer ones.
ADJUSTING THE TIME
To adjust the time, the first thing is to synchronize your clock with an accurate time source preferably a digital clock. Leave for twenty-four hours and then record the time difference between both. Then change the length of the pendulum by adjusting the bob up or down. Lower your bob if your clock is running faster than the digital clock while you raise the bob if your clock is running slow. The extent at which you adjust the bob is determined by the error and length of your pendulum. Generally, an antique clock can be changed one minute per day with one revolution of the nut. After adjusting it, synchronize your clock and repeat. As your antique clock becomes more accurate, reduce the frequency of recording from daily to weekly. Continue this process till the clock attains an accuracy of within two minutes per week. Once you are content with the accuracy of your clock, simply correct the time whenever you wind your clock.
Many of these antique mantel clocks are on display in our Hertfordshire showroom so please get in touch for an appointment. Nothing beats seeing the clocks in person to be mesmerised by their beauty and the level of skilled craftsmanship. The great thing, particularly about French clocks is the detailed workmanship, different materials are used to come together in a majestic whole. For instance marble might be indlaid with gilt or ormolu surmounted by a bronze cast figurine such as a horse or a female statue. Very popular at the time was the cherub clock - cherubim always being a very popular motif in French antiques and art.
Please enjoy some videos of various timepieces from the Canonbury Antiqes YouTube channel:
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