German box clocks are quite common. Prices for these clocks are all over the map, some ask hundreds of dollars but they can be had for very little money like this Mauthe box clock I picked up in a flea market outside Peterborough Ontario. The hands were faded and the case was in rough shape but I knew it was a good deal.
Thousands of German “box clocks” were made in the first third of the 20th century and even to the middle of the 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. Despite the absence of markings, I have no doubt that this clock was made in Germany by Mauthe.
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. 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. It has 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.
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 as there are scratches on the numerals. The numbers were touched up with flat black acrylic metal paint. Evidence that it was distributed by a Canadian clock company is a maple leaf applique on the crown.
The five-point maple leaf is a common symbol for Canada. There are two possibilities. It might have been sold by the Forestville Clock Company of Toronto or Eaton’s department store under the Solar (Soler?) brand name. I would date the clock to the 1930s.
The price was right so I bought it
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.
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. So, yes, it needs servicing. The price was right so I bought it.
I took the movement out of its case, inspected it and found it very clean. I looked 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Divina rod gong bim-bam strike has an especially pleasing resonance that echos through the house.
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.