Waterbury Wren shelf clock – case refresh

I originally assumed this clock was a Seth Thomas since it had a Seth Thomas movement. After a thorough search on the web, I concluded that this was not a Seth Thomas case. I searched for clocks made by other clockmakers, starting with E.N Welch, Ansonia (because it is similar in style to the Syria), Gilbert, Sessions and finally Waterbury. The term “Waterbury cabinet clock” generated some hits. I found one on an auction site then, two more. I now have a case made by a different maker than the movement and in clock circles this is called a marriage.

The case is a Waterbury model called the “Wren”. I found three Wren models, two with paper dials and one with the identical dial pan as this clock. It may well be that this dial pan is original to the case.

Despite the fact that it is a marriage I might keep it. The case is attractive and the movement fits the case, although both the centre hole and regulator hole over the 12 look to have been bored out and not in a tidy way.

The dial has been cleaned and repainted.

Cleaned and repainted dial

Now to the case. It Stands 13 1/8″ Tall By 12 5/8″ Wide And 5 1/2″ deep. As of this writing if you search for this model you might see one or two without the top crown. It is easily detached and no surprise that it might go missing.

Crooked finial

The case is in good shape with no parts missing however, the top finial on the right is not correctly aligned with the bottom column which I did not notice till I began cleaning the case. Evidently it had detached in the past and a past repairer glued it back not noticing the misalignment. It was simple matter of prying the finial off, regluing and centering it.

Two other pieces had to be reglued, a support piece for the crown and crosspiece in the back for one of the sides of the crown.

I cleaned the case with Murphy’s soap and following the scrubbing I decided that there was enough shellac worn off that a fresh coat would make the case much more appealing.

Finial is reattached and straighter
New coat of shellac

I applied traditional shellac, mixing amber flakes and alcohol with a broad artists brush. In the next shot you can see the difference between the left side of the crown and the right. I now have the option of leaving the finish as-is or aging it by “dulling” it with 4X0 steel wool.

Crown section

In the next photo is the completed case.

To me it is a huge improvement.

All this is being done while the movement is undergoing testing and once the testing is complete the two, the case and the movement will be “married” again.

Now if I can find the matching glass and bezel it will be complete.


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