Interesting steeple clock from the short-lived Hamilton Clock Co. (Canada)

Hamilton Clock Co Gothic steeple clock
Hamilton Clock Co Gothic steeple clock
I wasn’t on the lookout for another steeple clock but when I discovered this on a local online for-sale site I just could not pass it up.
Let’s clear something up from the outset. The Hamilton Clock Co in the United States and the Hamilton Watch Co were probably associated with each other in some way but the Hamilton Clock Co. located in Hamilton Ontario, Canada which operated between 1876 and 1880 was not in any way affiliated with the American company.
I bought his Hamilton Clock Co. 30-hour time and strike steeple clock from a local seller. I am sure the seller thought he did well with the sale as he did not budge from the 100CDN he was asking. However, I consider this a win-win situation. We were both pleased because clocks from the Hamilton Clock Co. are sought after by Canadian collectors and this example would easily fetch much more than the price I paid. I was particularly intrigued by the etched tablet with, “Cling to the Cross” a religious phrase that was popular at the time. It is the larger of two versions at 19 ¼”. The Hamilton Clock company made the only true steeple clocks and very few survive.

The 30-hour time and strike movement is appropriately stamped HAMILTON CLOCK CO. HAMILTON ONT. The suspension spring is mounted higher up than a photo I saw on the Canadian Clock Museum site which shows the suspension spring mounted below the hour cannon. There is also a pin through what looks like the intermediate gear on this movement. There had to be some variations over the period the movement was made.

The clock is not without issues, after all, it was made between 1876 and 1880 and some wear and tear is expected for a 140-year-old clock. Everything seems to be there and it is in good shape including the “Cling to the Cross” inscription on the tablet. The etched glass tablet was the result of an association with glass factories in the Hamilton area and unlike anything offered by other companies. There were a whole series of clocks made with similar religious messages.

30-hour time and strike movement with clock company inscription on the bottom of the front plate
30-hour time and strike movement with clock company inscription on the bottom of the front plate

The original dial face is faded/worn, the hands are original and the 30-hour movement has the correct pendulum. There are minor veneer losses here and there consisting mostly of chips. The right steeple is also missing its tip.

Veneer chips on left side of base
Veneer chips on the left side of the double-curved base

The label is not complete but is quite readable.

Loss on the clock label
Loss on the clock label
Half the label is missing but enough to identify the clock.
Half the label is missing but enough to clearly identify the clock-maker
A complete label should look like this better example
The clock runs surprisingly well but requires a thorough cleaning and repair work on the time side ratchet click which slips when the arbour is wound. Generally, the clock appears to be in reasonably good shape.
I am always intrigued by clocks made entirely in Canada. The following information is taken from the Canadian Clock Museum located in Deep River Ontario (Canada). A must visit if you are in Canada, love clocks and are especially interested in Canadian makers.
“This company was established in 1876, after the failure of the Canada Clock Company in Whitby, Ontario.
The machinery and other tools and equipment were purchased and moved to Hamilton by two business men, James Simpson and George Lee.  Simpson, born in Scotland, had been active in Hamilton for years as a partner in a wholesale grocery business.  He assumed the title of President of the clock company.  Lee, born in Ireland, was also active in food wholesaling, and the operation of hotels, and restaurants.  He became the Business Manager.  Neither man had any prior experience with factory operations or clock making.
Technical expertise was provided by John F. Collins, who had previously acted as Manager of the Canada Clock Company in Whitby and had been instrumental in equipping and operating that enterprise.  He was brought from Whitby along with the equipment and given the title of Mechanical Superintendent.
Collins utilized tools, dies and designs he had created at Whitby, so the Hamilton company was really a continuation of his previous efforts. He was able to broaden the range of movements and case styles, and hence to offer a more complete line of merchandise.  Unfortunately, after a few years, he appears to have fallen out with the new owners and left the company in 1879.
George Lee, in turn, suffered health problems and was obliged to leave around 1880.
This left James Simpson as sole proprietor.  He ended production under the name Hamilton Clock Company and proceeded to make major changes.  The factory and equipment were retained, but a completely updated product line was developed.  Simpson found new investors and incorporated the firm as a public company that was renamed The Canada Clock Company Limited.
The Hamilton Clock Company appears to have made a valiant effort to provide clocks for the Canadian market, in competition with the huge U.S. clock factories that already dominated the market.  Hamilton clocks matched competitive products in appearance and their quality was quite adequate.  The volume achieved, however, was never very large and the product line was simple and limited.  No catalogs or printed material have ever been found from the company and our opinions can only be based on an examination of surviving clocks.  Perhaps, like the attempt in Whitby, the available capital and ‘know-how’ were insufficient to ensure a major success.”
There is nothing novel or unusual about Hamilton Clock Co. clocks. They had movements and cases similar to American made clocks but since the production was limited to 4 years, fewer were made, they are rare and therefore more desirable for collectors.
Overall I am pleased with this acquisition.

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