Halifax Explosion and the Junghans Crispi clock – Part 3.5 – Postscript

My current project is an antique German Junghans time and strike spring driven wall clock made in the style of a Vienna Regulator. It was made in Schwenningen, Germany. It came to me as a box of parts. To some a box of clock parts and pieces is discouraging but to me it is a challenge.

This is Part 3.5 of a now three point five part series on my newly acquired Junghans Crispi wall clock. 

This is Part III and a half of a series on my newly acquired Junghans Crispi wall clock. In Part I described the circumstances by which I came across this clock and it’s incredible story as a survivor of the Halifax Explosion on Dec 6, 1917. In Part II I walk the reader through the servicing of the time and strike movement. In Part III I talk about the challenges of restoring the case.

I felt compelled to write Part 3.5 of the series showing the work I completed on the crown and the additional case work. I wasn’t sure how far I would go in restoring the case but the top finials are so essential to the final look of the clock that I decided to add these important elements.

The original finials might have been a little taller and wider much like the bottom centre finial

I bought three 3 and 3/4 inch finials from Timesavers. A wood lathe would have been ideal if I had one. I tried to imagine how the original finials looked and took a chance on what I felt were the most ornate without being too ostentatious. I believe they do it justice and complete the clock. The original finials might have been a little taller and wider much like the bottom centre finial but Timesavers has a rather limited selection. If I come across something closer in design in the future I can simply pull these out since they are not glued in place.

Support post for middle finial
Support post for middle finial

As you can see above, I have clamped the final bases to the crown and test fit the three top finials which had just been given their first coat of stain. The support post is made of oak and anchors the crown to the case. It will eventually be screwed in place. The post not only attaches the crown to the top of the case but also supports the middle finial base (next photo).

Test fitting the top finial
Test fitting the top finial

The lion’s head on the crown has also been nailed in place using its existing holes.

Buttons and decorative nails
Buttons and decorative nails

The case has an unusual number of decorative nails and buttons. Fortunately most of these decorative trim items came with the clock. Everything you see in the photo above is original save for the upper two floral brass buttons. Years of grime and dirt has been removed from the original decorative buttons, nails and pins.

Crown in place with all three finials
Crown in place with all three new finials

The clock reflected the Victorian era (1837 to 1901) of showy complicated designs with an emphasis placed on bright and brassy surface decoration

The crown is in position although for the moment it is merely sitting in place. I have added two new decorative nails to the finial bases. Although they are not exactly in the style of the other decorative nails, they are in keeping with the period look of the clock. The two brass buttons on either side of the movement support bracket (above photo) are replacements. The buttons, nails and trim pieces on the top part of the case, are original and cleaned up nicely.

Full view of case
Full view of case

This is a full view of the case with all decorative nails, buttons and trim pieces attached. Below the movement support bracket and on the side columns are two half moon wood pieces (one round decorative pressed wood applique cut in half) that replicate the original detail.

The clock is very garish; some might even call it gaudy. Other clocks I have from this period (1899) are not as pretentious as this one. This look may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it appeals to me. I am sure that it will always be an interesting conversation given its fascinating history. Overall, I would say that the clock accurately reflects the Victorian era (1837 to 1901) with showy complicated designs and an emphasis placed on bright and brassy surface decoration.

final look
Final look with crown attached and movement installed

The above photo shows the case with movement, pendulum, face, brass bezel and hands attached. At this point the clock is about 90% complete. The final steps in this project are securing the door to the frame with hinges purchased from a supplier, attaching the door catches, installing “new” glass, applying a protective top coat finish using Minwax semi gloss wipe-on poly and finding a way to replicate a wood trim insert piece on the left column just above the rectangular brass decorative piece.

Arrow indicating missing trim piece
Arrow indicating missing trim piece

The clock came without the glass and it obviously must be replaced. I managed to find an old glass window in my area with sufficient “waviness” to replicate the glass at the time. I will have the glass cut and installed by a repair shop locally.

In the final analysis is this a restoration, repair or a replication?

Much of the clock is original; the movement, the pendulum, coil gong and movement bracket as are the bottom base and top part of the case and the crown, the back board, the vertical columns and most of the decorative trim. What has been replaced is the box frame and the front piece that supports the right and left columns. The previous owner used contemporary materials and techniques to reconstruct the frame and front piece. Although not authentic, I have no real objection because much of what he has done is unseen. I have added or will have added some decorative trim pieces, new glass, 3 new finials, hinges and catches, finial bases, used yellow carpenter’s glue where absolutely necessary,  stained the case and will remove the rust on the coil gong.

In the final analysis is this a restoration, repair or a replication? Perhaps all three. However, to the casual observer it is an attractive albeit brash, lovingly restored antique Junghans Crispi wall clock that fell off a wall, in Halifax, Nova Scotia on that fateful day, December 6, 1917.

I hope you enjoyed the series and if you have any comments, ideas or suggestions do not hesitate to leave me a message.


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