Hamburg American Clock Co. – shelf clock, first look

This clock was an estate auction buy in early 2021. Since my wife and I were unable to bid in person we placed an online bid. So many estate auction houses are taking this very route that the days of people packing an auction house and bidding feverishly may be behind us. It was described as an unknown clock but I’d seen enough photos online to know that I had likely won a Hamburg American Clock Co. shelf clock. And, for a small shipping fee the clock was delivered to us a few days later by courier.

HAC was a well-known German company that was founded in 1883 and made clocks for a number of years before they were acquired by Gebr Junghans Uhrenfabrik or Junghans for short, in the late 1920s. I have a number of German clocks but this is the first HAC clock in my collection.

Bracket clock
Bracket clock, auction photo (with permission)

When I opened the box I inspected the clock for damage (there was none) and proceeded to look for the familiar cross arrows trademark on the backplate of the movement. I could see how it would have been easily missed by the auction house since the trademark was “hidden” behind the pendulum leader. Many HAC clocks have a trademark on the gong block, this one does not.

HAC trademark
HAC trademark

The case is a little tired and worn, especially the dial, but there is nothing amiss, no parts missing. The movement works but I am not sure what to do with a very tired looking dial face.

I pulled the movement out of the case to examine it more closely, inspect for any immediate issues, and proceeded to photograph it from different angles.

HAC clock
HAC clock, tired but working
HAC clock movement
HAC clock movement, backplate
HAC clock movement
HAC clock movement, front plate

Like other German movements, it is robust, well-engineered and has a certain industrialized look, even crude in some respects. The front and backplates are solid indicating that it was probably an early version of this movement. There are no “extra” holes in the plates that are often found in many other German movements, holes that are made for various functions for other styles of cases. Compared this to the #36 movement (below right) from HAC. At 8.7 cms by 10.9 cms this one is almost the exact size.

HAC clock movement
HAC #36 clock movement

The plates are almost 2 mm thick, suggesting a well engineered movement.

Movements on German mantel and shelf clocks from other manufacturers are typically bolted to a seat-board. On this clock, brackets on all 4 corners attach the movement to the inside front panel which is very American!

Numbers in the top left corner of the backplate,164, 42, and 130 tell the beats per minute, the number of escape wheel teeth, and pendulum length.

I am anxious to take the movement apart and look at ways to revitalize the case and dial.

This is an excellent winter project.

2 thoughts on “Hamburg American Clock Co. – shelf clock, first look

  1. I service and collect HAU, HAC, Hamburg American clocks. In the collection, 123 clocks from this company and I have the books on name of clock when it was made and mechanisms with the pendulum length. This company was very good making mechanism and wood artistry of the cases. All woods came from the Black Forest region. I would buy this clock if the price is right. Thomas Dufour, Evaluations Clock Repair & Restore

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