The Origin of Grandfather Clocks

The Origin of Grandfather Clocks

The origin of grandfather clocks (Long Case Clocks) came about in the late 17th century.

The pendulum clock was invented and patented by Christiaan Huygens in 1656.

The invention of the anchor escapement in 1670, lowered the swing from 100 degrees to 4-6 degrees with greater accuracy allowing for the introduction of grandfather clocks.

Verge escapement before this, only wall clocks with open swing pendulums were possible.

The English clockmaker William Clement is credited with its development in 1670. Most people started calling the early grandfather clocks, coffin clocks instead of long case clocks.

Grandfather clocks are 6-8 feet tall featuring elaborately carved ornamentation on the hood, or bonnet, which surrounds and frames the dial, or clock face. They stike the hour and half hour with a wonderful chime.

Before the industral revolution in the 1800s, grandfather clocks were made by individual craftsmen and were very expensive. Mass production made clocks less expensive and more accurate with a greater selectiom of styles. Today the most widely used grandfather clocks are keywind or quartz.

The keywind grandfather clocks are spring loaded and wound with a key. Two holes in the face are used for winding clock wise to power the clock. The pendulum of the grandfather clock, is used to regulate the speed of the escapement to keep accurate time. Display of weights are only for decoration.

The tick tock heard from the grandfather clock is the constant stop and releasing of the escapement. Quartz grandfather clocks are operated using batteries. A pendulum isn’t needed, allowing space to display decorations. Quartz grandfather clocks require no maintenance. Both are extremly accuate and will give many years of dependable service.

In 1876 Henry Clay Work stayed at the George Hotel in Piercebridge, County Durham, England.

The George Hotel had an old grandfather clock (made by James Thompson) that no longer worked. When Henry asked about the clock he was told that it had always kept perfect time until the Jenkins brothers (who used to own the hotel) died.

At the moment the last brother died the grandfather clock stopped and it was never repaired. Henry decided to write a song about the clock which became very popular.

In the song he referred to the long case clock as “my grandfather’s clock.” After that most people started calling all long case clocks, grandfather clocks.

Purchasing an Affordable Grandfather clock

Purchasing an Affordable Grandfather clock

The purchase of a grandfather clock is a once in life time event. They will last for generations and sure to become a family heirloom.

Confusion over grandfather clocks has only intensified with the advent of the internet. Today there are more more styles, sizes, and prices then ever before. They are such a beautiful work of art, and distinctive addition to a rooms decor, that every home should have one. 

Many times people think to themselves, “I would love to have a grandfather clock, but they are so expensive.” In the past this has been true. Grandfather clocks can reach many thousands of dollars.

Today very affordable grandfather clocks are available. They are not cheap grandfather clocks, but beautifully crafted discount clocks. The workmanship is extraordinary with precision clock movements that will give many years of dependable service.

The clock cases are true works of art that are sure to please the most discriminating clock buyer. These beautiful quality clocks are made of real wood and come in many finishes. Styles consist of antique, traditional, and contemporary.

Finishes are available in brown, black, cherry, and oak. Most stand between 6 and 7 feet tall. Two clock movements that are most common with a quality discount grandfather clock is mechanical and quartz. The mechanical movement is powered by key wind mechanism that is wound every 30 days.

This form clock movement has been around since the 14th century. (very dependable and accurate) The pendulum controls the clock speed by adjusting the pendulum bob up or down. The chiming and rhythmic tick tick is a soothing sound that will enhance the feeling of stability and comfort to your home.

The quartz grandfather clock is operated most commonly by AA batteries. (very dependable and extremely accurate) This type of clock movement doesn’t require any winding. A quartz movement clock has no pendulum and doesn’t chime. Shelves replace where the pendulum would be to place decorations. 

Maintenance for a grandfather clock is very simple and cleaning is the same as any fine piece of furniture.

You don’t want to spray polish or glass cleaner on the clock face, pendulum, or decorative weight as this will tarnish or stain the brass. The mechanical grandfather clocks should be professional inspected and cleaned every 3 to 5 years to keep them in perfect running condition.

The quartz grandfather clocks should have the battery inspected periodically for leakage. This is really the only thing that could cause problems, so be sure to use a good quality battery. 

How to locate and purchase an affordable grandfather clock

  1. Find a retailer that sells quality discount clocks. 
  2. Be sure the website is encrypted and secure with your most personal information.
  3. Does the retailer answer question you have in a timely manner.
  4. Is there a solid guarantee.
  5. Is there a no nonsense return policy.
  6. Is the retailer willing to work with customers after the sale to resolve any problems or questions to the customers satisfaction. 

Having these things addressed to your satisfaction you should have a pleasant experience shopping and owning a quality discount grandfather clock.

What Makes Grandfather Clocks Work and Why Does it Go Tick Tock

What Makes Grandfather Clocks Work and Why Does it Go Tick Tock

ESCAPEMENT is part of the clock that controls speed and regularity by converting continuous rotational energy into discrete motions.

This is accomplished through the use of gears and a lever attached to a pendulum. the most common form in use in grandfather clocks today powered by keywound springs. 

When the pendulum swings the lever locks in the tooth of the gear, this is the tick. The back swing of the pendulum the lever releases the gear, this is the tock. The process is repeated over an over untill the clock needs winding.

Thus, the familiar tick tock of grandfather clocks. The speed and accuracy of the clock is achieved by adjusting the pendulum bob up or down. Adusting the bob up speeds the clock, adjusting the bob down slows the clock. 

The earliest escapement can be traced back to a Buddhist monk Yi Xing in china around 725A.D. He was also a Chinese astronomer, mathematician, and mechanical engineer of the Tang Dynasty (618–907). His contribution was designing and operating a water-powered armillary sphere. 

Many escapements have been designed and developed over the years. One that predates the pendulum around the Verge escapement, also known as the crown-wheel-and-verge escapement.

This escapement design and function is similar to a teeter toter on a playground. The problem was this system had no natural frequency of oscillation, it is simply force pushing inertia around.  

The next development was attaching the verge escapement to a pendulum. The pendulum clock was invented and patented by Christiaan Huygens in 1656, inspired by investigations of pendulums by Galileo beginning around 1602.

This increased the accuracy of clocks enormously, from about 15 minutes per day to 15 seconds per day, leading to their rapid spread as existing clocks were retrofitted with a pendulum. In order for this to work the axis of the verge became horizontal.

This design was good at keeping time, but the swing of the pendulum was very wide up to 100 degrees. This was too big a swing for grandfather clocks. 

Anchor escapement also known as recoil escapement was the next big development in 1670. The swing of the pendulum was greatly reduced to 4-6 degrees. The teeth of an anchor escape wheel project radially from the edge of the wheel, much like an up side down anchor. The second pendulum clock was built by Christian Huygens, in 1673.

Development of this escapement allowed the introduction of the long clock better know as  grandfather clocks, made by William Clement around 1680.

The increased accuracy resulting from these developments caused the minute hand, previously rare, to be added to a grandfather clocks face beginning around 1690. 

Improvements in designs lead to the Dead beat escapement introduced around 1715 by George Graham. This design lead to the lever escapement.

The up side down ancher was given a rounded edge so as not to lock the gear. This allowed the pendulum to operate the clock on both back and forth swings.

Wear on the escapement was greatly reduced. In most wall clocks that use a pendulum, the pendulum swings once per second. In small cuckoo clocks the pendulum might swing twice a second. In large grandfather clocks, the pendulum swings once every two seconds.  

The lever escapement is widely used and very acurate. Clocks today have a very long and rich history. Depending on which clock suits your need or desire you can have confidence in there accuracy and dependablity.