New Haven Sharp Gothic (Steeple) clock – Part I – history unearthed

New haven Gothic Steeple clock
New Haven Gothic Steeple clock

This is Part I entitled History Unearthed. It is the first part of a two part series. Part II concerns servicing the movement.

My recently acquired New Haven Gothic Steeple 30-hour clock is an online auction win.

The case is in very good condition apart from minor veneer issues on the base and the columns. The clock is missing the tip of the right finial although it might be hard to tell from the photo. It measures 20 1/2 inches tall with a 5-inch dial. The movement appears to be original to the case.

The dial is original and has some loss that would be expected in a 135-year-old clock. The tablet, likely original, features a sailboat against Greek (?) temples surrounded by gold foliage on a black background. The design of the tablet was used in other New Haven clocks of the time. Though intended for European export the clock found its way to Canada.

Label in very good condition
The label is in very good condition and occupies 2/3 of the backboard

In dating the clock I narrowed the time frame somewhat. It has an almost perfect label save for some staining on the bottom left. There is an over-pasted square blue coloured label on the bottom centre from a clock-maker and jeweller in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Halifax is only an hours drive from my home.

Labels often tell the story of a clock

The blue label says, “Thomas D. (Daniel) Spike, Watchmaker and Jeweller, 21 Buckingham St, Halifax”. An online database reveals that the business was listed in the 1869-70 City of Halifax business directory. Spike was at 20 Buckingham St in 1871 and moved to 21 Buckingham St sometime between 1871 and 1895. The clock must have been sold from his shop before 1895 since Spike moved to Barrington St in 1895. The mid 1870s seems about right. Labels often tell the story of a clock. Buckingham St was obliterated during the urban renewal period of the 1970s along with over 1800 homes and businesses.

Excerpts from The Jewelers’ Circular and Horological Review

A gang of boys ranging in age from 12 to 14 years have been arrested in Halifax, N. S., and sentenced to two years each in reformatory schools for burglarizing the jewelry store of T. D. Spike, of that city. A quantity of the jewelry stolen was found hidden under gutter bridges of the streets.

Source: The Jewelers’ Circular and Horological Review – 23rd August 1893

T. D. Spike, Halifax, N. S., has removed from his old stand on Buckingham St., where he has done business for a number of years, to more commodious rooms in the Aberdeen building, Barrington St.

Source: The Jewelers’ Circular and Horological Review – 12th June 1895

I have one other New Haven movement which is exact in every way but for solid motion works gears. This movement predates the Gothic Steeple and judging from the movement type, the style of this clock, approximate period it was sold and labels of other clocks from the period I would fix the date of this steeple clock to the early to mid 1880s.

30 hour New Haven movement from a spring driven Ogee clock
30 hour time and strike movement
30 hour time and strike movement, dial face off showing the movement

The movement is a count wheel strike. The clock runs and keeps time but the strike side fails to stop. Once the clock starts striking it continues until the mainspring runs down. This is a common problem. In many cases, the warning wheel and the locking lever are out of sync even when the count lever is in the deep notch. Bending a lever or two and/or re-positioning the wheels will usually fix the strike but the clock must be dis-assembled in order to make this adjustment. I soon discovered that adjustment not the solution for this particular movement problem.

Top plate removed

Next is Part II, servicing the movement.