Jerome & Co. round top shelf clock – first impressions

Jerome and Co. round top shelf clock

Chauncey Jerome along with his brother Noble introduced the first mass-produced brass movement in 1839 two years after the depression of 1837 knocked out 90% of factories in the Northeast (New England States). The 30-hour brass movement was rugged, cheap to repair and not subject to swelling found in wood movement clocks. Despite business ups and downs Chauncey able was able to maintain a viable clock business until 1868 but later died penniless.

This is a shelf clock made by Jerome & Co. According to the dictionary of American Clock and Watch Makers by Kenneth A Sposato, Jerome & Company operated in New Haven Connecticut between 1845 and 1855. This clock is not from that period.

The movement is an unmarked 8-day hour strike on a wire coil gong made by the New Haven Clock Co. and marketed as a Jerome & Co. clock. The movement has screws to secure the plates unlike older movements which had taper pins. Earlier clocks would have had a brass or iron bell gong rather than a coiled gong as found in this clock. Evidently, New Haven used the Jerome name well into the late 1880s as a marketing strategy likely because the Jerome name, which was well known in Europe, would attract customers. This clock is from about 1880 give or taker a year or two.

Jerome clock in as-found condition
Jerome clock in as-found condition

The attractive Rosewood veneered case is a round top design with a mirrored rectangular lower tablet. The rectangular base is veneered and has a few nicks and scratches, not surprising for the age of the clock. The veneered sides and top are in excellent condition. An access door, also in very good shape, covers the entire front of the clock save for the base. On the door is a wood dial surround with a small age crack at the 11 o’clock position. The dial is paper over zinc with an inner brass ring and an outer brass bezel, an early replacement. The solid wood inner dial panel is a later repair. I have seen these panels in very poor condition and it is not surprising that it was replaced. Maltese hour and minute hands appear correct for the period.

Clock face removed showing the 8-day movement
Clock face removed showing the 8-day movement

There are three labels in total. On the front of the back panel are two labels. One appears to be a wallpaper design with the second, an over-pasted retailers label. Only half the retailers label is readable. It says J. J (last name) Clock Maker and Dealer, 86 Court Street, formerly Haymarket Square. Labels often date a clock to within a few years. Despite a search I could find no further information about the clock-maker.

The third label is behind the mirrored tablet. On it are “Directions for Regulating Pendulum Clocks” It also has instructions for Alarms although this clock does not appear to have ever had an alarm.

The case is 14 ½ inches tall by 11 inches wide and 4 ½ inches deep. Door hinges and door hardware look original as is the glazed dial.

The movement appears to be in reasonable condition and is dirty as expected. The worst bushing wear is the cam wheel strike side front plate and the 4th wheel time side back plate, enough to stop the clock. The suspension spring and rod are a replacement and the bob is likely original. The movement runs for several minutes and stops.

The case was dirty with years of grime. Using a higher than normal concentration of Murphy’s Soap and water I cleaned all veneered sections. Some might call the age-old look patina but isn’t patina is just another word for dirt? Sections of the clock were black with grime and cleaning finally revealed the fine grain structure of the Rosewood veneer.

Most of the shellac on the front door had worn away leaving two distracting areas of build-up that had been covered with more shellac over the years. Those sections were sanded with 120 grit sandpaper followed by 600 grit and then 1500 emery paper between three coats of shellac (1lb cut prepared in the traditional manner) and finally 1500 emery paper to reduce the overall sheen.

Servicing the movement will have to wait another day but in the meantime the case is looking more like it did when it sat in J. J. (last name?)’s shop many years ago.

This is an attractive Rosewood veneered round top 8-day cottage clock that would complement the décor of any living room.