Mauthe box clock
Mauthe box clock, as found and before restoration

Thousands of German “box clocks” were made in the first third of the 20th century. The box clock replaced the classic “Vienna Regulator” after the First World War and reflected a minimalist approach to clock design. Most, if not all, were made in Germany. I have no doubt that this clock was made in Germany by Mauthe but there are no markings inside or out that reveal its maker.

This vintage clock is 29 inches long by 13 inches wide and 7 inches deep. It has a 7-inch silvered Arabic dial with a spade hour hand and speared minute hand. The lower section of the case door has 5 beveled glass panels (middle one is arched) with brass connecting strips. There are two fluted columns that frame either side of the door and circular glazed viewing panels on each side. The movement is mounted and secured by thumbscrews on a seat board. The clock case is in fair to good condition with no gouges, deep scratches or missing pieces. Refinishing at some point in its life combined with environment factors has resulted in a darker walnut shade. I suspect that the case is made of cheaper pine rather than the more expensive oak found in higher end box clocks.

The door has its original glass, catches, hinges and swings very easily. There are no case stabilizers (stand-offs) which I found curious given the height and weight of the clock. One interesting feature is a rod gong twist locking feature about one third up from the longest rod to secure the rods during transport. Rods are brittle and can easily snap off if unsecured when moving the clock.

Rod twist lock
Rod twist lock to secure the rods during transport

I would comfortably date the clock to the 1930s

The dial face has been “messed with” in some fashion. I suspect someone tried to clean the face with an abrasive cleaner resulting in much of the paint scratched from the numerals, however, I have touched up the numbers and achieved what I believe is a reasonable result (see last photo). The only evidence that it might have been distributed by a Canadian clock company is a maple leaf applique on the crown.

Maple leaf applique and Divina gong
Maple leaf applique and Divina gong

The five-point maple leaf is a common symbol for Canada. If so, there are two possibilities. It might have been sold by the Forestville Clock Company of Toronto or Eaton’s department store under the Solar name. Judging from its appearance and having no other information to go on, I would date the clock to the 1930s.

The price was right so I bought it despite potential problems

The rack and snail, time and strike, spring powered movement with recoil escapement has no markings but for the numbers 42 (pendulum length in cm) and 105 (beats per minute), the letters C,A, with numbers, 79/9 engraved in the lower right of the front plate, presumably a clock-makers mark for servicing in September of 1979 and a serial number, 25226. The back plate is solid brass while the front plate is open. It also has a repeater function on the strike side.

Mauthe movement front plate
Mauthe movement front plate

This is an antique mall find and the seller left a note saying that the clock required servicing (code for not running). While on the wall in the store the clock ran for a few seconds and then stopped. Was it simply out of beat or was it in need of repair/servicing? The price was right so I bought it despite potential problems.

Mauthe movement back plate
Mauthe movement back plate

I inspected the movement out of its case and I was pleased at how clean it was. I also inspected it for any obvious signs of wear or damage such as bent arbors or broken teeth and found nothing. The pivots holes were dry though absent of the tale-tell signs of thick black or green oil indicating wear. The mainsprings were wound tight as I would have expected. I oiled the movement, ran it outside the case for a few hours, returned it to its case, re-positioned the 3 strike hammers for the rod gongs and it ran strong, striking as it should on the hour and half hour.

I have no doubt that it is a Mauthe. The 3-rod “Divina gong” was, according to the standard German reference, Hans-Heinrich Schmid’s (2005) Lexikon der Deutschen Uhrenindustrie 1850-1980, a Mauthe trade-name registered in 1912. I compared the movement to similar Mauthe movements online and but for minor details it is the same. The case design is plain and free of decoration and is quite unremarkable save for the aforementioned beveled glass panels.

Divina rod gong
Divina rod gong, patented by Mauthe in 1912

There are so few photos of Canadian Forestville and Solar clocks from that period that it was difficult to find anything remotely close on the net but the maple leaf applique clearly points to a clock made for the Canadian market.

Box clock after case refresh
Box clock after case cleaning and refresh

I refreshed the case by first giving it a good cleaning with Murphy’s Soap. The cleaning revealed some light and dark patches so I opted to give the case a light coat of walnut stain followed by Poly Wipe Satin clear coat. The numerals were scratched off from the use of some sort of abrasive cleaner and while not unreadable a paint touch-up was in order. I purchased a small detail brush (number 3 spotter) for the dial numerals. I applied black satin metal paint that I purchased at a local hobby store for both the numerals and the hands. I could have left the numerals as-is but compare the difference to the top photo.

There is not much I could do with the unsightly black smudges on the dial without lifting the silvering so I left that untouched but it still retains that vintage look.

Repainted numerals
Repainted numerals and hands

There were a number of unsightly black marks on the pendulum bob that I cleaned up using Brasso. Brasso was also used to clean up the brass bezel. The beveled glass and the brass strips were cleaned as well. Indeed, Brasso is my friend!

For a 50CDN investment the result after a refresh, is remarkable. It shows very well and it is a welcome addition to my growing clock collection. The the Divina rod gong bim-bam strike has an especially pleasing resonance.