Mystery clock – if you know the maker, let me know

If you know the maker, let me know or direct me to where I can find out.

I was in an antique shop in a small village in the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia lately and came across this unusual box-type wall clock. I glanced at the back of the clock and noticed that the wall anchor hook had been detached suggesting that a past owner determined that it was to be a shelf clock. What else did the previous owner(s) do to alter this clock, I wondered?

The clock measures about 24 inches tall (60 cm), about 14-15 inches wide (40 cm) and about 6 inches (15 cm) deep. The dial is about 10 inches (25 cm) in diameter. The tag on the top of the clock says, “$145 – probably English, 1920s to 1940s, needs some adjustments”. The shop owner could not say whether it would run or not.

At first glance it appears to be a conventional clock but there are a few features which I find very intriguing. I discussed the clock with the owner of the antique shop and she said that it is a railway clock which I doubt for two reasons, one, the clock dial face is too small to be seen at a distance and two, it appears to be a time and strike clock given the two winding arbors. Railway clocks usually have dials that are 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter or more and normally do not strike. Striking clocks would not be heard amid the cacophony of a typical train station.

Now, it is quite conceivable that it is not a strike clock at all but a time-only clock that has two winding arbors. Double spring clocks were not uncommon during that period and if so, it would probably make this a 15 day (or more) clock similar to this double-spring Seth Thomas railway clock pictured here. That could be the case in this instance.

Double sporing 15 day Seth Thomas
Double spring 15 day American Seth Thomas

The spade hands look original as does the clock dial pan, oak case and oak rod with what appears to be a spun brass pendulum. What appears to be missing is an oak piece (or other wood I assume) that surrounds the dial pan and hides the four dial pan mounting screws. The dial face might be a little newer. The hands are attached by a nut which would put it in the period the tag suggests.

Mystery clock
Mystery clock


The winding arbors are exceptionally large and would require an unconventional key. I should have put something beside the arbors to show just how large they actually are. While the owner of the shop had a number of clock keys she did not have one to fit this particular clock.

Very large winding arbors
The clock has very large winding arbors
The bezel should have a cover for the screws
The bezel should have a surround to hide the screws

The next feature I noticed is that the clock appears to have a Graham dead-beat escapement or something very similar though I could only see the top part of the escapement. The Graham deadbeat escapement has been the escapement of choice in almost all finer pendulum clocks.  It might also be another type of escapement but it is impossible to say without a closer examination. Normally one would associate a recoil escapement with a cheaper spring driven clock but accuracy must have been a priority in this case.

Beat scale

It is indeed a mystery. I would love to see what the original clock looks like. The price is not unreasonable but I wonder what else is missing besides the bezel surround and the wall anchor hook.

If you can point me in a direction, leave a reply.

6 thoughts on “Mystery clock – if you know the maker, let me know

  1. Hi Ron, this looks like part of an IBM punch clock. It has the same dial pan, HUUUUGE winding squares, heavy pendulum, and beat scale, and even the oak case is similar, but it seems to be missing all the linkages and punch portion. It might be just the movement in a retrofitted case. I was going to have you go to my blog for photos, but apparently I never made a post about it. I restored one of these monster clocks last year. The darn thing must have weighed about 60lbs.


    1. Yeah that’s definitely what it is. I can see the oddly shaped cast iron bracket behind it. Normally there’s a 1/4″ thick decorative wooden front that hides the crimped metal and screws. They used the original oak door and made a new case for it. I’ll see if I can dig up some photos of the one I fixed. Or search “International Time Recording Clock Company”.


    2. JC, I did not buy this clock, yet, and wanted to do some research beforehand but if it missing so much I might just pass on it. However it might be worth it as a curiosity it if the price is low enough. Yes, it would have had a bottom box section for the punch cards I assume. I would love to see your photos.


      1. I’m just going through my reader at the moment and came across this post again.

        The clock may be worth buying if you find that the case looks okay as-is. The movement is an absolute BEAST and it will run no matter what. Two massive thick gauge 31 day (or 14 day) springs driving only a time train. Maybe 50-60lbs worth of force to drive a movement that could probably run on 5lbs. It’s insane. Letting down the springs is kind of a nightmare though.

        I’ll see if I can e-mail you a few photos.


        1. I was wondering about the huge key, what size would it be? I think it is probably worth picking up but the seller wants too much, $145 I think. If I get get her to come down in price it might be worth it.


  2. Timesavers carries the huge T shaped winding keys. I didn’t know this but I saw them in the catalogue the other day. They aren’t ridiculously priced either.


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