Unsigned French mantel clock – pretty but I wish I knew more about it

I acquired this elegant antique French mantel/shelf clock online in March of 2017 and it is the only French clock in my collection. Not many come up on Nova Scotia online for-sale sites.

French mantel clock
French time and strike mantel clock

I felt somewhat guilty leaving the home of the man I bought it from because he told me that he was selling off his possessions to provide for his wife after his passing as he was in the final stages of a terminal illness.

Clock face showing the two winding arbours
Clock face showing the two winding arbours

The elderly gentleman said that the low price reflected the fact that the strike side was not functioning and it had been like that since shortly after the last servicing. When inserting the key in the strike side arbour I immediately noticed that the spring had tension but it would not click. It could be a simple fix.

There was nothing on the inside of the case that would tell me anything about the maker

It is a time and strike clock of French origin from the turn of the 20th Century. The clock is 11 inches high by 8 1/4 inches wide by 5 1/4 inches deep, jet black, either slate or Belgian marble with lighter reddish brown rectangular accents and serpentine scrolling. It is quite heavy! The dial has a brass centre cup with enamel surround, delicate hands and painted Arabic numerals.

It is in the Grecian architectural style popular during the late 19th century both here and in France. But for a large chip on the bottom right of the case and a smaller chip on on the bottom left it is in very good condition. Unfortunately chips on the corners of these old French marble clocks are quite common. The movement is an exquisitely crafted French time and strike mechanism with a pleasant sounding but subdued coiled gong. It is unsigned.

The only markings are the word Brocot on the speed adjustment gear and another marking on the back plate. This patented Brocot speed adjustment was invented by French clock maker and inventor Louis-Gabriel Brocot in the 1800s.

Brocot patented speed adjsutment
Brocot patented speed adjustment

Stamped on the rear plate is Marque Deposee which means registered trademark in French. EBay sellers often mistakenly refer to it as the maker’s stamp. Careful examination of the movement revealed that there was nothing on the inside of the case or the movement that would give me a clue about the maker. A mystery, but not surprising as many French clocks are similarly unsigned.

Time and strike movement
Time and strike movement

The previous owner advised that the clock had been serviced but I decided to take the movement out of it’s case to inspect it more closely, re-oil if necessary and determine why the strike side was not functioning. The movement is relatively simple to remove. To extract it from it’s case undo the two slotted screws (rear) that hold the straps and pull the movement out from the front.

Side view of movement
Side view of movement showing brass straps

A very nice acquisition though I keep thinking about that old fellow

I discovered that for whatever reason the click screw was very loose, and not engaging the ratchet. After screwing it down tightly the click engaged the ratchet as it should. I can only assume that during it’s last servicing the click screw was not tightened securely.

The strike side click was loose
The strike side click screw was very loose
Numbers on bob correspond with the movement
Numbers on bob correspond with those on the movement
pendulum bob with adjuster
Pendulum bob with rate adjustment screw

I re-oiled the movement, returned it to its case and wound both sides. There are two speed adjustments on the clock, one on the bob and a finer speed adjustment arbour just above the number 12 on the dial. At the moment the clock is running a little slow and will take weeks to regulate. A one-ended key came with the clock, the original would have been double-ended.

It is a very quiet ticker with a pleasant strike and perhaps the perfect clock for those who might be bothered by the sound of a mechanical clock in any room.

A very nice acquisition though I keep thinking about that old fellow.


39 thoughts on “Unsigned French mantel clock – pretty but I wish I knew more about it

  1. Uau, soberba layout ⅾо blog! Há quanto temрo você
    tem paгa blogar? você feito blogging olhar fácil.
    О aspecto geral do ѕeu local é maravilhoso , сomo o conteúԀo!


  2. I’m really inspired along with your writing talents as neatly as with the structure to your weblog. Is that this a paid subject or did you modify it yourself? Either way stay up the excellent high quality writing, it is uncommon to peer a great weblog like this one today..


  3. Excellent blog you have here but I was curious if you knew of any community forums that cover the same topics discussed here? I’d really like to be a part of online community where I can get advice from other experienced individuals that share the same interest. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Thanks a lot!|


  4. Hi there! I could have sworn I’ve visited your blog before but after going through many of the articles I realized it’s new to me. Anyways, I’m certainly delighted I came across it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back often!


  5. Hello, i think that i saw you visited my site thus i got here to go back the desire?.I am trying to in finding things to improve my site!I suppose its adequate to use a few of your concepts!!


  6. Heya i’m for the first time here. I found this board and I find It truly useful & it helped me out much. I hope to give something back and help others like you helped me.


  7. You have made some good points there. I checked on the net for more info about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this site.


  8. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about this, like you wrote
    the book in it or something. I think that you can do with some pics to drive the
    message home a bit, but instead of that,
    this is wonderful blog. A great read. I’ll certainly be back.


  9. Hi there would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re using? I’m going to start my own blog soon but I’m having a hard time making a decision between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design and style seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something unique. P.S Sorry for getting off-topic but I had to ask!


  10. Hi there! I understand this is somewhat off-topic but
    I needed to ask. Does operating a well-established website such as yours require a lot of work?
    I’m brand new to operating a blog but I do write in my journal everyday.
    I’d like to start a blog so I can easily share
    my own experience and views online. Please let me know
    if you have any kind of ideas or tips for brand new aspiring bloggers.
    Appreciate it!


Comments are closed.