Addressing an upper tablet replacement on a Seth Thomas column and cornice clock

This is a fine example of a Seth Thomas column and cornice clock with sleigh front made prior to 1867 and sold by the R.W. Paterson Company of Canada West. Both the lower and upper tablets appear to be original and are in very good condition. Unfortunately this antique American column and cornice time and strike Seth Thomas clock is not mine and if it were I would proudly display it.

My clock, though similar is missing its upper tablet and a few other items that I wish to address in stages.

Missing upper tablet
Missing upper tablet on an American Seth Thomas clock

This blog article concerns one aspect of the clock, it upper and lower tablets. The lower tablet appears to be original and shows a cluster of fruit. Not as stately or ornate as the one in the first photo but quite appropriate for this style of clock. A quick online search shows that there were an endless number of reverse tablet painting designs ranging from birds, flowers, pastoral scenes, stately structures, eagles, parrots, berries, flags, drapery, crests and the list goes on.

Because there is a missing top tablet, the clock does not look complete. The clear glass is certainly not correct. As is typical for most clocks this age, things go missing over the years.

To address the missing upper tablet there are a number of options to consider;

  • Do nothing,
  • Attempt to find a decent quality reverse painted set from the same period,
  • Try my hand at painting a new tablet,
  • Buy a photo reproduction set online
  • Find a complimentary design and reproduce it on my home photo printer.

Finding a decent quality reverse painted set from that era is quite difficult and a search would take a long time. I am no artist, so, painting a tablet is out of the question. Buying a reproduction set online is a possibility but how much am I prepared to spend on something I could potentially do myself. After analyzing the options my first thought was to explore the possibility of buying a reproduction set online.

A search on EBay revealed sellers who make reproductions of the original tablets. They are essentially a “replacement picture set” of the clock tablets. They are as one ad put, “Exact copies of a set of Seth Thomas 8 day “Column” model sleigh front clock ca. 1880. They are printed on photo stock and mounted on mat-board that when put behind antique glass they are very hard to tell from the original and make a Seth Thomas column clock with plain or damaged pictures into a super looking clock.” I have seen them offered from 15USD to 45USD + shipping.

Hmm, I can do this myself!

Following a search of my photo collection I found a cluster of hanging fruit that complimented the lower tablet. Using PaintShopPro X6 by Corel I chose a water-colour effect, removed some fruit, changed the orientation of the image, adjusted the back lighting to match the tone of the lower tablet, cloned the deleted areas and darkened the stem and black-berries.

The first photo shows the source photo converted to a water-colour. The next shows the adjustments made to the “water-colour”. The third shows my first attempt without back-light darkening.

Using my wide carriage Epson Stylus 1400, here is my first attempt.

First attempt, a little lighter than what I was looking for
First attempt, a little brighter than what I was looking for but close

Colour-matching the lower tablet is a real challenge. More adjustments are required to get the right effect but I think I am on the right track.

If you have any suggestions on how I can improve my workflow I would love to hear from you.