A curious little Blackforest shelf clock

RS shelf clock number 2 (6)
Black Forest Clock Company of Toronto, clock in as found condition

Shelf clocks such as the one pictured have always been hard to find though I did stumble upon this one very recently (April 2016) at an antique store in Great Village, Nova Scotia. Why, because of their cheap construction and inexpensive movements, not many of these clocks have survived over the years.

This one might have had a special meaning to someone at one time because it is a memento of the King George VI coronation of 1937 which nicely dates the clock. He became King George VI of England in December 1936 following the death of his father George V and the abdication of his brother. He had been a heavy smoker and in 1951 had his left lung removed then died suddenly in the winter of 1952. Elizabeth became queen later that year.

RS Refinished case (6)
Black Forest shelf clock after case restoration
RS Refinished case (7)
Another view of refinished case

This Blackforest shelf clock is only slightly larger than the first Blackforest clock I picked up last summer (2015) and like the other, is time-only.

RS shelf clock number 2 (4)
Company plate on rear of clock

The time-only movement is very simple in design. The pendulum rod, bob and pallets are one piece.

One piece pendulum assembly

To adjust the beat rate you either rotate the bob left for slower rate or right to make the clock run faster or slower. Outside the back plate sits the mainspring which is housed in an open barrel and there are 5 gear wheels plus the escape wheel between two solid plates. This is an identical movement as found in my other Blackforest shelf clock  but unlike this clock it was in very poor condition. The movement is German and could have been made by a number of companies at the time; Keinzle, Mauthe, Hermle or Junghans. There are no stamps or markings on this so-called “plate” movement to give any indication of the maker. Typically many Canadian companies such as the Blackforest Clock Company of Toronto (the Forestville Clock Company after the war) imported German movements before the Second World War and installed them in Canadian made cases.

RS shelf clock number 2 (2)
Plate clock movement
RS shelf clock number 2 (12)
Commemorative Edition – 1937 Coronation of King George VI

To refinish the case I cleaned it thoroughly using Murphy’s Soap, applied three coats of dark walnut stain taking care to wipe the stain with a cotton cloth 5-10 minutes after each application. My intent was to fill in the scratches and abrasions rather than radically alter the colour. I then rubbed the cabinet with 0000 steel wool between coats and applied two top coats of clear polyurethane satin finish. I cleaned the numerals but decided against repainting rather preserving the original patina, though I applied Brasso to bring back the finish on the key wind bushing. In the end the case is a little darker but likely closer to its original finish.

shelf clock number 2 (10)
Original winding key

I haven’t quite figured this out yet but I think the winding key has a “bottle opener” design to allow the pendulum to be locked during travel. Ideas?

This clock would make a great addition to a any bedroom. It is small enough for a dresser or even a side table, quiet enough (for a mechanical clock) and is still attractive in design after all these years. Heck, you can even wind the clock in the 6 o’clock position.

2 thoughts on “A curious little Blackforest shelf clock

  1. Thanks for your help, just bought the coronation Black Forest clock at a local auction.
    I am a dealer, always great to bring a clock around, this one was over wound, it has a good heart and is coming on.
    Frank Vancouver


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