A cast brass base makes a simple moulded plinth. Above it, four grooved brass sides accommodate rectangular bevelled glass front and sides. The rear door is one grooved brass frame with a screwed-in side section that secures the bevelled door glass. This door simply pivots on two brass pins located in holes in the base and top. The door is a friction fit, with a knurled button to enable it to be opened easily with finger and thumb.

The top of the case comprises of two cast brass mouldings, a cornice and top piece. The cornice secures the four brass sides, each side with two brass locating pins and a screw. The top often has a rectangular aperture for more bevelled glass, which can be either rectangular or an ellipticle shape. Two round bosses comprise the handle hinges, which screwed on from below, securing the glass, top, cornice and the four sides together. Underneath the base, four screws thread through into each side section. Finally, two large screws hold the clock movement to the base via threaded holes in the bottom movement pillars.

Some of the cheaper carriage clock bases were pressed-brass and not cast.

All carriage clocks were originaly gold plated. This gilt finish can suffer wear through handling over many years.

Care of Case

Where the gilding has worn through, the brass will inevitably tarnish in these worn places. The atmosphere itself can etch-away on these worn places causing pitting.

Many carriage clock cases have been ruined by zealous cleaning. This is not helped by some dealers and auction houses describing 'brass' carriage clocks as a generic term. Antique carriage clocks were gilded with gold plating. This would not tarnish if unworn through handling. It was only when the brass began to wear through that the cases tarnished, allowing vigorous and disastrous polishing with liquid brass polish.

This would inevitably seep into the clock movement, working its way into pivot holes. Worse, the vital platform escapement often got tainted with the abrasive liquid polish. It can easily penetrate to the platform itself, and cause rapid thinning of the balance wheel bottom pivot, for instance.

The index stem from the platform is often left long and bent downwards at a right angle. If this long stem is inadvertently pushed down during setting, the considerable leverage involved will damage the platform.


Copyright ©IAN PARTRIDGE 1998