E N Welch case

Is this attractive 30 hour weight driven Ogee a Waterbury, a New Haven or an E.N. Welch? All of the above, actually and perhaps more.

The older the clock and the greater the number of owners means there is an increased chance that there have been minor and even significant changes to the clock

Is it a marriage or a Frankenstein?

When horologists speak of a marriage they mean the clock in its entirety is not original. It generally means the movement is not original to the case but it can have other meanings as well. Various parts and components might have been added or changed over time. Over the life of a clock it has often been in the hands of many owners particularly if the clock is well over 100 years old. The older the clock and the greater the number of owners means there is an increased chance that there have been minor and even significant changes. Each owner may add or take away components in the interest of having a reliable clock while sacrificing authenticity. Functionality trumps aesthetics. When a clock goes well beyond the horologists definition of a marriage, it is called a Frankenstein.

A Frankenstein clock is made up of a mixture of clock parts from many makers. In this case, a previous owner acquired a number of non-working Ogee clocks, took what was salvageable from each one and constructed a working clock.

New Haven 30 hour movement

This clock was purchased at auction as a non-running example and cost the owner very little money. I was asked to take a look at it and perhaps “do something to make it run”. It came complete with weights for both sides missing only the pendulum bob and the correct key. The key that came with it was a #3 mantel clock key as the original would have been a crank style key. One weight was stuck in the right channel past its hook; the other was loose in the case; not a good way to transport a clock. Though difficult to tell if they are original to this clock, the weights are those typically found in a 30-hour brass time and strike movement.

The numbers have been repainted by the writer

The dial is not original to the case though it is correct for the period. There is a stamped impression in French on the back of the dial suggesting that the clock it was attached to was intended for export to France (Chauncey Jerome?).

Tablet design

The tablet is a nicely detailed floral design but has some loss as one would expect given its age. However, the tablet and the door do not appear to be original to the case. There are small blocks under each hinge suggesting the door was “made to fit” this case. Nails are used on one hinge and screws on the other.

Waterbury coil gong

The case is an E.N. Welch, the time and strike weight driven movement is New Haven and the coil gong is a Waterbury.

The aluminum spindle for the cable just above the movement on the right side is an curious touch.

Aluminum spindle

A wall hook at the top and back of the case suggests that it was hung rather than having sat on a shelf. Knowledgeable Ogee clock owners know that these clocks were never meant to be hung though many were displayed in that manner.

I took the movement out of the case, inspected it for wear and found it to be in very good condition with no obvious pivot, tooth, pinion or click wear. The verge and escape wheel similarly had little wear. The cables for the weights should be just long enough to bring the weight to the bottom of the case with a little to spare. On both sides the cables were twice as long as they should have been. The suspension spring and rod which is a later replacement, is too long as the bottom of the spring touches the crutch loop. The crutch loop had been incorrectly turned 90 degrees requiring a simple twist with pliers to correct it. How it ran is a puzzle since there was no impulse transmitted from the crutch to the pendulum rod. A previous owner, though well intentioned had little knowledge of how a movement functioned.

Incorrect grain direction on top piece

The rosewood veneer though dulled with age is in fair shape and had acceptable repairs with the exception of the flat horizontal strip on the top front, which upon closer inspection, is a replacement with simulated grain oriented in the wrong direction. Other issues are minor chips on the bottom edge of the case, two pieces of missing veneer on the right side and slight bubbling of veneer on the top left side panel.

Veneer issues

So, what is this clock exactly?

The answer is that it is a 30 hour Ogee clock. It is also an amalgam of many clock parts, a Frankenstein. From afar the entire clock looks very good, but closer examination immediately reveals it many sins. As they say, “Nice from afar but far from nice!”. A resourceful person took all the good parts from a variety of clocks and combined them to make a clock that actually runs and keeps good time.

Is it a keeper?

For discerning clock collectors this example is far from acceptable and certainly diminishes the value of a clock considerably even if it runs well. An expert looks for precisely these things prior to any decision and any serious collector of Ogee clocks would instantly walk away. For someone either interested in the history of clock production or those entering the world of clocks wanting a cheap clock to practice and learn with, it is certainly worth keeping.

The clock is running strongly and striking as it should following a cleaning and oiling. This 30 hour New Haven, Waterbury, E.N. Welch Ogee clock from the 19th century would fool most people.

It reminds me of that old expression….Caveat Emptor (Let the Buyer Beware)!