How to date an antique clock
Dial and Hand features
Introduced to longcase clocks c. 1663
Matching minute and hour hands
Were introduced c. 1775; however, clocks were still produced with only hours hands up until around 1820.
Commonly added to longcase clock dials in around 1780
Dots in the minute rings
In brass dials were added c. 1785.
Phases of the moon
Shown on clock dials were introduced in c. 1745.
Paper clock dials
Introduced c. 1792 for use in applying to a wooden or metal backing.
General use on clock faces around 1800.
Signatures on a clock's dial or movement
Sometimes help to date a clock if you can find the maker's name and date of activity listed in one of the many guides to watch and clockmakers. However, a signature may refer to someone other than the clockmaker. 19th century retailers and distributors often put their own names on clocks as an attempt to 'brand' their product. The actual movement may have been made by someone else. Until the 19th century clock cases were almost always made separately from the movement and are rarely signed.
Case and movement features
Was introduced in 1836 and became popular within a few years. It provided a safe alternative to the hazardous use of mercury in gilding metals, which was banned c. 1799.
Were introduced to English longcase clocks c.1660.
Machine made wood screws
Were introduced as early as 1806 in France.
Reverse painted glass pannels
Date from the early 1800's.
Were generally used in early American shelf clocks until around 1820, since up until then hand cast and finished brass movements were very expensive. Chauncy Jerome began manufacturing cheap 30-hour brass movements in the 1830's; by the early 1840's brass movements virtually replaced wooden ones.
Coiled wire gongs
Used in English bracket clocks beginning around 1840.
Chime bars, also called chime rods, were introduced to clocks c. 1890. They are metal rods specially tuned to produce a sequence of chime notes when struck by the movement's hammers.
"Adamantine" celluloid veneer was patented in 1880. In 1882 Seth thomas introduced clock models in Adamantine veneer finishes which mimiced marble, slate, wood grains and other materials.
Was invented by a Belgian born scientist Dr. Leo Baekeland, who founded the Bakelite Corporation around 1910. It reached its height of popularity in the 1930's and 40's and was used in a wide variety of consumer products.
Country of origin
Was a legal required after 1896 on clocks imported to the United States; e.g. "Made in England" or England", etc.
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