Aunt Theresa’s mantel clock

Hamburg American Clock Company time and strike

My wife’s aunt lives in a quaint home near a small town in the south of Ireland. During our recent visit to Ireland we were invited to her home, had tea and cake and had a long talk about family history.

While there I was asked to take a look at the family clock which had not been running for a number of years. Aunt Theresa and her husband (now deceased) received the clock from his brother, an amateur antique collector, many years ago.

HAC’s are good quality movements with well-made cases

The clock is an attractive and somewhat large 6-column Victorian-style 14-day time and strike mantel clock with Roman Numeral dial made by the Hamburg American Clock Company. It is model #1902 probably made on or about that date. Hamburg American clocks are known for good quality movements with well-made cases.

I will take a look at it, I said, but without my tools, there is not much I could do. I wound both arbours and determined that the mainsprings had plenty of power. I gave the pendulum a push and immediately observed that there was power going to the escapement but there was an uneven tick-tock, so, the clock was out of beat. I propped up one side of the clock sufficiently to find the correct beat and it not only ran but dutifully struck on the half-hour. It works!

In the clock case was a note.

A note found inside the case

The note said,

Tried getting the clock to go on 22nd Sept ’92- worked at pendulum for a long time. I think the clock was too tightly wound. On morning of 23rd Sept, started pendulum again and it’s going since. The clock has not chimed yet. 6th Oct 92 gave the clock a small wind up as it had stopped

I admire aunt Theresa’s tenacity but the clock refused to run after the second winding way back in 1992, 27 years ago.

Time and strike movement with coiled gong

Here is what I discovered about the Hamburg American Clock Company.

In 1875, Paul Landenberger together with his partner, Philipp Lang, founded the Landenberger & Lang clock factory and although he had taken some know-how with him from Junghans (a noted German clockmaker), the company was bankrupt by 1882/1883. It was converted to a stockholding firm and with new investors, the company was re-named Hamburg-Amerikanische Uhrenfabrik (Hamburg-American clock factory).

The name might suggest that they had American made movements but that is far from the case. Hamburg is in the name because that is where the investors came from and “Amerikanische” referred to the movements which were made according to the “new” American mass-production methods.

Among clocks circles, the company is simply known as HAC.

Nice label with model number above

The familiar crossed arrows trademark mark found on the coiled gong was registered in 1891. The “Lux” trademark, which this clock does not have, was added in 1905 so, it places this clock between those years. Model #1902 might even suggest the year it was made. Junghans eventually gained influence over the company and by 1930 was able to take over HAC completely.

The good news is that the clock runs and that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with it but after all these years it needs a good servicing and that means disassembly and cleaning by a qualified clock repair person.