History of the grandfather clock

The grandfather clock is one of the most recognizable types of clocks in the world, as well as one of the most popular.  Even people that know next to nothing about clocks will probably recognize a grandfather clock when they see one.  But have you ever wondered why it’s called a grandfather clock? Have you ever wondered who designed the first one, or why they are so popular? Anyone that is a fan of antique clocks should find the history of the grandfather clock to be fascinating and enjoy having the opportunity to learn about it.

Early Concepts

The idea of adding a pendulum to a clock to help increase accuracy predates the first attempts at building a grandfather clock by several centuries.  It was noted scientist Galileo that is usually credited as the person who noticed that the swinging of a pendulum took the same amount of time whether it followed a wide arc or short arc.  Realizing that this precision measurement could be used to increase the accuracy of clocks, he began to experiment with adding a pendulum to a clock, but ultimately failed to produce a functioning design.  Still, he was on the right path, and it wouldn’t be much longer before someone else managed to succeed where he failed.

Around 70 years later Dutch astronomer Christian Huygens was trying to produce an astronomical clock, which as you might imagine, needed to be very accurate.  He too realized that adding a pendulum to a clock was the key to increasing accuracy, and in 1656 he produced his first working prototype.  Up until that point in time clocks could be off by as much as 15 minutes a day, and this was considered normal.  By adding a pendulum’s motion to a clock design, he was able to reduce this to where his clock would be accurate to 1 minute in a day, which was a tremendous improvement.

Following Huygen’s success many other clockmakers began to experiment with adding a pendulum to their clocks, resulting in similar increases in accuracy.  As with many other great innovations, having so many working on the same problem helped to produce a revolution in clock design, with many clockmakers finding great success with the new pendulum design.  Pendulum clocks were known by many names at this point, and they went from being a new innovation to becoming a very popular and in demand clock style.  But they still lacked one thing, the iconic name that everyone knows them by.

How Grandfather Clocks Got Their Name

It wasn’t until 1875 that long case clocks with pendulums came to be known as grandfather clocks.  Ironically, it wasn’t a clockmaker that named this clock, it was a songwriter! Songwriter Henry Clay Work, an American was visiting England and stayed in a hotel where there was an old long case clock that had long been broken.  When he inquired about the clock he was told that it belonged to the previous owners of the hotel, and that after one of them died the clock started to lose time.  Eventually the clock quit working altogether, and nobody could figure out how to repair it.  Inspired by this story he wrote “My Grandfather’s Clock”.  The song became a major hit for him, and its widespread popularity contributed to the renaming of this type of clock.








Understanding antique clock weights

Understanding antique clock weights will take a little time and effort on your part, but it’s probably simpler than you imagine it to be.  What are the weights on a clock and why are they important? The weights on an antique clock are what power the mechanism and allow it to keep time.  Since the entire purpose of a clock is for it to keep time, the weights are a very important part of any clock.  While clock weights started out utilitarian, it wasn’t long before more complex systems were designed and more weights were added to a clock, leading to a more elaborate time keeping system.  While these changes weren’t truly necessary, it did add to the complexity of a clock, and with more complexity came a higher price that clockmakers could charge.

How Do Weights Power A Clock?

One of the primary forces in the universe that you experience all the time and probably never even think about is gravity.  Without gravity you wouldn’t be able to sit or stand here and read this.  You’d be flying off into space.  In fact, without gravity, you wouldn’t even be here at all since gravity helps hold the universe together.  Gravity is everywhere and it is a constant force in our lives that most people probably never even think about.  What does gravity have to do with antique clocks? As a matter of fact, without gravity, many types of antique clocks wouldn’t even work!

Today we have a lot of different power sources at our disposal.  When you need to charge your phone, you plug it in and electricity derived from solar, nuclear, wind, hydroelectric, or coal plants flow into your phone and charge it.  If you have an electric car the same thing happens, just on a larger scale.  If you have a gas-powered car, you fill it up with liquid fuel in the form of gasoline.  The point is that today, we have options that didn’t exist in the past.  In the past, without access to instant power, other innovations were necessary to allow machines to function.  One of the more ingenious of those innovations was clocks that used weights and gravities to function.

Clock weights work by providing a clock with energy derived from the primal universal force of gravity.  A weight is suspended over a wheel and as it falls the wheel turns, and the hands on the clock move.  Now, you’re probably thinking, how long of a cord is that weight attached to if it powers a clock for a week at a time or more? It’s not the length of the cord that matters, it’s the friction devices built into the clock’s mechanism that slows the release of the cord that controls and harnesses the energy allowing the clock to run.

By adding a pendulum to the clock, the rate that the cord is released can be finely controlled, allowing for an accurate measurement of time! Why was a pendulum necessary? Because the amount of time a pendulum takes to swing from one end to the other depends upon the length of the pendulum.  By using different lengths, it was possible to precisely control the rate that the clock weight was released, allowing for the keeping of time.  When you think about it, the genius of antique clocks should give you an idea of just how innovative our ancestors were.



The relationship between antique clocks and music

When you think of antique clocks the first thing that comes to mind is probably not music.  Sure, the swinging, rhythmic motion of the pendulum does have a bit in common with the mathematical parts of musical composition, but it’s not enough of a correlation to establish a firm relationship between clocks and music.  However, there is a very direct relationship between them, and it has nothing to do with the swinging of the pendulum in a clock.  Instead, the relationship between music and antique clocks has everything to do with how the most iconic type of clock got its name, the antique grandfather clock.

The Grandfather Clock Was Not Named by A Clockmaker

If you were to take a guess as to how the grandfather clock got its name, you’d probably guess that it had something to do with a clockmaker, and you would be wrong.  Prior to 1875 grandfather clocks had a few different names, the most common of which was a large case clock.  By this point the design was refined, so the clock had reached its final form, but the name grandfather clock had not been attached to it yet.

The Grandfather Clock Was Named by A Songwriter

It wasn’t until 1875 that a grandfather clock was called by its most famous name.  How did this come about? It was in 1875 when famed American songwriter Henry Clay Work was on a visit to England and he stayed at the George Hotel in Yorkshire.  While there he was captivated by an old, long case clock that he saw in the hotel lobby.  The clock was intriguing, but he was told that it had not worked in years.

Originally owned by the Jenkins brothers, the prior owners of the hotel, the clock began to have problems once one of the brothers passed away.  The clock began to lose time after having functioned perfectly for many years.  When the second brother passed away the clock stopped working altogether immediately after his demise, and never worked again after that.  When Henry Clay Work asked why a repairman had not been called, he was told that all efforts to repair the old clock had failed.  Inspired by this story, he wrote, “My Grandfather’s Clock”, and the song was a major hit.  Due to the popularity of the song long case clocks were soon called grandfather clocks, and the name has stuck with them ever since.







How to choose the right antique clock for your home

If you are considering an antique clock for your home, it’s important to make the right choice to ensure you end up with a clock that fits your personality as well as the overall design of your home.  Antique clocks can range from moderately priced to very expensive, and since you don’t want to waste your money, you need to choose the right clock.  But how do you do that? Shopping for an antique clock isn’t like shopping for modern clocks, each one is unique.

What Style of Antique Clock Are You Interested In?

The first thing to consider when looking at antique clocks is what style of clock you are interested in.  You also must decide if you want a shelf clock, or one that hangs on your wall.  What about an antique grandfather clock, or an antique cuckoo clock? These are all options, and you should spend time thinking about what you want, and what fits in with the rest of the décor in your home.  Have fun with the process, enjoy yourself when looking around, and above all else, don’t let anyone pressure you into buying a clock that you aren’t in love with.

Are There Any Important Cultural Aspects You Should Consider?

Another thing to consider when choosing an antique clock are any cultural ideals that are important to you.  For example, if you have a cultural background that is a big part of your life, then choosing an antique clock that comes from that particular region of the world might be something that could interest you.  Should this be the main factor that influences your decision? No, but there’s no reason that it can’t be one of many factors that you consider when picking out an antique clock.

How Much Do You Want to Spend?

Of course, one of the main factors that influence your decision when antique clock shopping will be the price.  Money is important because overspending on something, even something as wonderful as an antique clock, can result in financial difficulties down the road.  While financing an antique clock or using a credit card are options, don’t delude yourself into doing something today that provides instant gratification, if it’s going to cause you financial distress later.

One important factor to keep in mind when looking at the cost of antique clocks is that they often hold their value.  Antiques are valuable because they are rare, unique items that are not easy to find.  Make sure that you do your homework and check the pricing of different clocks that are like the ones you are thinking of buying, this will ensure you don’t end up paying too much.  While the higher price might be a deterrent, as long as you can afford it, an antique clock can be viewed as an investment as much as it can as a piece of home décor.  If the day comes when you decide that it’s time to redo your home again, and your antique clock doesn’t fit with your new designs, you shouldn’t have any trouble reselling it, and you may even make a profit!

Choosing the right antique clock is an important decision for a number of reasons.  It will likely represent a significant amount of money, and the appearance of that clock will have an impact on the overall appearance of your home.  So, take your time, look around, and make a decision that you know you will be happy with.

What Is the Difference Between Antique and Vintage Clocks?

When you hear the words antique and vintage you probably think they are descriptive terms that essentially have the same meaning.  What important to remember is that vintage of antique does not mean the same thing.  They have similar meanings, but the differences are important because they can be quite significant.  Any clock that is considered an antique is at least 100 years old.  Any clock that is considered vintages if at least 40 years old but hasn’t hit the century mark yet.

Does this mean that antique clocks are superior to vintage clocks? That depends on who you ask, it’s all a matter of taste.  It’s kind of like being an afficionado or cars.  Perhaps you prefer foreign cars over classic muscle cars, that doesn’t mean foreign cars are better, it just means that they are different.  The same is true for antique clocks and vintage clocks.  Antique clocks are not necessarily better, but they are frequently more valuable, and they usually give off a more sophisticated vibe.

Vintage Clock

How can you know if an antique or a vintage clock is the right choice for you? That’s a personal decision, but you really can’t go wrong in either case.  What you should do is decide what suits your tastes, then make your choice based off of that.  You may be surprised if you start out seeking an antique clock, then end up falling in love with a vintage one instead.  You’re just as likely to have things go the other way around, and end up with an antique clock when a vintage one was what you were initially interested in.

Your best option is to think about what look you are interested in, then use this as a starting point for shopping around. You should never feel pressured to decide, buying a vintage or antique clock may end up being a significant investment, and when spending your money, you can never be too careful.

Are you still uncertain of what type of clock you should purchase? Well, vintage clocks often evoke feelings of nostalgia since they are more modern, and they may have even been constructed during your lifetime.  For example, if you grew up in the 70s, buying a clock from this time may help you to remember your glory days and brighten up your day for a brief moment each time you check the time.

Now, with antique clocks there is less of a sense of nostalgia involved because they are at least a century old, and it’s pretty unlikely that you’re out clock shopping if you’re over 100.  Antique clocks have more of a timeless beauty to them that adds more class and character instead of nostalgia to a room.

If you’re still struggling to make a decision, or you don’t even know how to get started, perhaps enlisting the help of an expert is in order.  If that’s something you’re interested in, then you’ve come to the right place.  We have a team of experts that are highly knowledgeable about all types of clocks, and they would be more than happy to offer you a no pressure, consultation to help you narrow down your choices.

What Are Skeleton Clocks?

If you are an afficionado of mechanical clocks, then a skeleton clock is probably one of the most appealing types of clocks that you are likely to ever see.  What makes mechanical clocks so intriguing are their inner workings.  They don’t have some soulless computer keeping the passage of time, they have intricate mechanisms that work in concert to accurately record each second that passes.  Quality mechanical clocks, even antique ones, can be as accurate at their modern digital counterparts.  The level of engineering required to pull of this amazing feat is astounding, even more so when you consider the time that many of these engineering marvels were constructed in. Imagine a clockmaker working by candlelight or using a lantern to illuminate his workspace and created a machine that is accurate as what is mass produced by automated factories today.  That’s astonishing!

Why should a skeleton clock hold special interest for those that love mechanism driven clocks? A skeleton clock is so named because it is constructed in a manner that allows you to see how it works.  The casing and other elements that would normally conceal the internal parts, and their movements, are not present.  They are specifically designed to allow people to see how they work, to give people the opportunity to marvel at the spectacular engineering that went into their creation.

With most mechanical clocks the only indication of what is going on behind the scenes is rhythmic, audible ticking of the mechanisms as the hands march forward.  It’s easy to forget just how much is going on behind the scenes, and that’s a shame.  The inner workings of beautiful, antique clock should be admired and appreciated, but far too often they are simply forgotten about.

Antique French Skeleton Clock

With a skeleton clock there is little chance of this happening.  Since you can see the inner workings of the clock, it’s virtually impossible to overlook what is going on.  You can see the gears turn in concert as the track the passing of each second and turn the hands of the clock forward.  The ticking sound takes on an entirely new meaning when you can see what is making the sound and appreciate the amount of time and effort that went into creating such an intricate device.

For clock lover’s skeleton clocks are an amazing marvel, and what make them truly unique is that even people that aren’t interested in clocks will find them interesting.  How many people can look at a magnificent clock and not take a few moments to marvel at it? Only those that have no imagination or appreciation for beauty and engineering, that’s all.  For anyone else, the captivating movements of a skeleton clock may offer a momentary reprieve from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. They offer a glimpse into a tiny world where everything moves like clockwork, and the precision is something that can be appreciated and admired.

If you’re interested in a acquiring a skeleton clock, then please feel free to ask us about our collection. In most cases skeleton clocks are mantel clocks. We’d be happy to give you the opportunity to marvel and appreciate them, so you can decide which one should go home with you today.

Unique Materials of Antique Clocks

Are you considering purchasing an antique clock for your home or business? Congratulations on making a wise choice! Now, before you start planning your purchase why don’t you take a few minutes to think about what type of antique clock you’re looking for.  What type of style are you interested in? Is there a specific time period that interests you? What kind of material do you want your clock to be made from? That’s right, you might want to take a moment to think about what types of materials you might want your clock to be made from.  Sure, oak and cherry wood are the most common types of materials that are used, but they are far from your only options.

Porcelain and Enamel Clocks Are Often Quite Beautiful

If you are looking for a unique antique clock, you can’t go wrong with a porcelain or enamel clock.  Often striking, these clocks are outside of the box and offer a look that is far from what most people think of when they think of an antique clock.  Are they perfect for any décor and style? No, but not clock is.  But, if you can find one that suits what you need, then these unique clocks could be just what you’re looking for.

Sometimes it’s a combination of different materials that make one clock great, such as this antique mystery clock;

Gold Antique Clock

Skeleton Clocks Have Partial Cases or No Cases to Showcase Their Inner Workings

While most people think of clocks as being wooden, these same people also realize that the internal workings of these same wooden clocks are most definitely made of metal.  Skeleton clocks are unique in that the inner workings are intentionally exposed to allow people a chance to see how the intricate mechanisms that control the clocks work.

Where the different materials come into play is the polished brass and other materials that clockworks are made from are visible.  Higher quality materials, and more precise manufacturing techniques are used when creating the clockworks for a skeleton clock since the mechanisms will be prominently displayed.  These clocks are often striking and fit in well with most interior design styles.

There’s Nothing Wrong with Traditional Wood Clocks

If porcelain, enamel, and metal clocks don’t’ appeal to you, there’s nothing wrong with choosing a more traditional option and going with a wooden clock.  When well made, antique wooden clocks have a timeless beauty that allows them to be displayed in virtually any environment.  There’s a certain comfort that comes from seeing an antique wooden clock since it is such a familiar, but also intriguing decorative object.

Make A Choice Based on What Appeals to You

How do you know what type of clock material is the right one of you? That’s a personal decision that you’ll have to come to.  Take some time, think about what you want, then start comparing different types of antique clocks.  One important piece of advice to remember is to not zero in on one option from day one.  Give yourself the freedom to explore and look around so you can be exposed to many options.  You may end up surprising yourself by discovering that the type of clock you thought you wanted, didn’t end up being your final choice.

We’re Here to Help

While the final decision on what type of clock to buy is yours to make, as it should be, there’s also nothing wrong with accepting some guidance from the professionals.  That’s what we’re here for, we aren’t just here to sell you a clock, we’re here to offer our wealth of knowledge and experience to help you to make an informed decision.  The way we see it, if you aren’t thrilled with the antique clock that you’ve purchased from us, then we haven’t done our job well.

The Canadian Arthur Pequegnat company Clocks

If you are looking for a very high-quality antique or vintage clock, then you can’t go wrong with the Canadian Arthur Pequegnat Clock Company.  Founded in 1904, they produced high quality clocks in Canada for nearly 40 years.  About 20 years after production stopped, the company became insolvent.  While the company may not have lasted, it had nothing to do with the quality the clocks they produced.  The company thrived prior to the modern industrial age, with the widespread use of automation and electricity becoming common, the company simply failed to adapt to the times, and their methods became obsolete.  Despite the end of the company, the clocks that they produced are still highly collectible, and often sell for as much as two times the number of similar clocks of American origin from the same time.

One particularly notable thing about the Arthur Pequengnat Clock Company was that clocks were not their initial area of expertise.  They started as bicycle manufacturing company and decided to branch out into clock making when they felt they could produce higher quality clocks locally in Canada than the ones that were being imported.  This bold step turned out to be quite fortuitous, and in short order the time as a bicycle manufacturer ended due to the tremendous demand for their clocks.

While scarcity of an item often directly correlates to the collectability and value, that isn’t the case with the Arthur Pequegnat Clocks.  These clocks were mass produced for nearly four decades and extremely popular in Canada, so there are quite a few of them still in circulation.  What drives their value has more to do with their quality, beauty, and reliability.  So, the good news is that you can probably find an Arthur Pequegnat if you are interested in one, and despite their desirable status in the collectable world, their price remains affordable for most people. They have a variety of clocks, such as antique wall clocks and antique bracket clocks.

If you are looking for a specific antique clock, feel free to get in touch with us and we’re happy to see if we can scout one for you.  While this isn’t likely to happen, for us, the most important thing is that you find what makes you happy.

Museums and Exhibitions of Antique Clocks

When most people think of museums they probably think of art and other antiques.  Whey would there be museums and other exhibitions for clocks of all things? A better question might be, why shouldn’t there be museums and exhibitions celebrating antique clocks? After all, they are antiques, and a very solid argument could be made that they are an art form as well.  Yes, that’s correct, antique clocks are an art form.

If you don’t consider antique clocks to be an art form, then perhaps you need to take a moment to think about what art means to you.  Art, by its very nature is subject to change and interpretation, so it’s hard to come up with a solid definition of what constitutes art, and what does not.  But most people would agree that art consists of something unique and expressive, and by this definition many antique clocks would qualify as pieces of art instead of simple timepieces. From the very iconic cuckoo clocks to impressive antique longcase clocks.

Antique Clock Harley Davidson

Going to a museum exhibition to view antique clocks can be a very rewarding and education experience.  It can also help you to get a better understanding of what type of clocks you might be interested in purchasing for your home or business.  You might also be surprised to learn that there are frequent exhibitions of antique clocks, and there’s a good chance that there is one within driving distance right now.

If you’re interested in attending an antique clock exhibition or museum please find a few source below;

Another option you might want to consider is spending some time admiring our vast inventory of vintage and antique clocks.  Don’t worry, we don’t have an ulterior motive and are more than happy to let anyone interested in clocks look through our collection.  We won’t pressure you and try to make a sale, we’re confident that the antique clocks that we sell don’t need any help being sold.  Once you see them, you’ll probably want to take one home with you.  If not, that’s fine, we’re still happy to share our love of antique and vintage clocks with you.

How The Cuckoo Clock Got Its Name

When it comes to clocks there aren’t many that are more iconic and recognizable that the cuckoo clock.  The distinctive cuckoo bird marking the passing of each hour is something that anyone will instantly recognize, even if they don’t know anything else about clocks.  Many people have wondered over the centuries how this type of clock was conceived of.  How was it named? Why have a cuckoo bird of all things appear every hour? These are all great questions, unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of clear answers.  Cuckoo clocks originated several centuries ago, and like many other things that originate that far in the past, clear answers are not always readily apparent.  Fortunately, there are some clues that can help to at least paint a partial picture of the origins of this unique clock.

The name of the cuckoo clock comes from the iconic cuckoo bird that makes an appearance at the top of the hour to announce that the day is an hour closer to being over.  With a cuckoo clock there is a constant reminder of how much time has passed, which can be a good or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it.  If you feel like your day is dragging along and taking forever, that hourly reminder might start to get on your nerves a bit.

Antique Cuckoo Clock

With the mystery of the name sorted out, you might be wondering how a cuckoo clock came to be in the first place.  What was the inspiration behind it? Why choose a cuckoo bird instead of, well instead of anything else? Why have it announce the passing of each hour?

These are all great questions, unfortunately, there’s no definitive answer.  The first description of a cuckoo clocked was written in the early 1600s in Germany, which narrows down the originating region that the cuckoo clock hails from.  What is generally regarded as the modern interpretation of the cuckoo clock appeared some time later in the early 1700s in region of Germany, so both the original and modernized version of the cuckoo clock arose in Germany.

But that’s where the answers come to an end.  Who created the very first cuckoo clock? Why did they choose a cuckoo bird to symbolize the clock and give its name to it? These are questions that likely will never be answered, but even though it’s origins may not be clear, the appreciation for this iconic clock is.

Cuckoo clocks are enormously popular and come in many styles, some classical, and some with much more modern designs.  This means that regardless of what type of décor your home or office has, a cuckoo clock can fit in and find a place.  So, if cuckoo clocks hold a special place in your heart, like they do for so many other people, then feel free to reach out to us today.  We’d be happy to share our knowledge, and help you find the right clock for you.