I was not really looking for an ogee clock to add to my collection. But there it was sitting in a lonely corner of an antique shop calling me, “buy me”; and I did.
It is probably the oldest one in my collection of 4 other ogee clocks. It was made in or about 1845. Now, being old does not necessarily make it valuable. In fact, millions of these clocks were produced and many found their way to online auction sites in recent years contributing to a huge drop in value. You can find them online for a little more than I paid for mine but they are pretty cheap nonetheless. This one was $54.
The case label located on the backboard inside the clock case was printed by John Benham in 1845. Comparing the movement in this case with one found on a popular Jerome database site tells me that it is a type 1.311 Jerome movement. Jerome movements were typically marked though some, like this one, were unmarked which is not unusual.
So, the case and the movement are near enough in time to tell me that the movement is very likely original to the case. That is always a good sign as many ogee cases had worn movements replaced over the years. In some cases, there was little intertest in matching the maker of the case to the movement especially if a customer’s only wish is to have a working clock and since the movements were interchangeable it made it that much easier. Many of these clocks are over 180 years old and one can expect some subtle and not-so-subtle changes over the years.
While very attractive and running well this clock (below), a “marriage”, is an EN Welch case with a Waterbury movement. When considering the purchase of an ogee clock, if it is important to you, check that the movement and case are from the same maker though that is not an absolute guarantee they started their lives together.
What is original and what has been replaced?
Typically parts that have been lost/damaged or replaced over the years include the verge, suspension spring/leader, the pendulum bob, the weights, the hands, and case parts like pulley dust caps. In some cases, the lower tablets have been removed altogether because of breakage or severe paint loss, replaced by a clear glass panel, a mirror, a photograph, or a picture (often from a discarded calendar).
The leader and suspension spring are missing. The verge appears to be a replacement, the weights look original as do the hands and pendulum bob. There is a missing top movement block that secures the movement to the backboard and that is about it.
I am reserving judgment on the frosted glass tablet; it may or may not be original. It would be pretty exciting if it were a Fenn design but I doubt it. William Fenn was one of the more prolific tablet-makers of the mid-19th century. The dabs of red paint are certainly added later.
The clock dial, likely original, is signed C. Jerome below the twelve o’clock.
Assessment of the movement
This is a typical 30-hour or one-day time and strike movement.
I found some wear and I was expecting some past repairs. There is a repair date of 1863 on the inside of the access door but I can’t make out what was done at that time.
There are two bushings installed on the front plate, the second wheel, and the hour gear. On the back, there are four replacement bushings, evidence that it has had acceptable servicing. One seldom finds replacement bushings on an ogee clock. Most movements I have come across have punch marks around the bushing holes, a common practice by past clock repairers to close elongated holes.
Three of the replacement bushings will have to be redone and new bushings are required for the back-plate time side main wheel and the strike side back-plate main wheel for a total of five.
The pressure washer for the time side main wheel is completely worn out. Had I not separated the wheel and ratchet for cleaning I would not have discovered the problem but it tells me that it could fail at some future point.
I have a donor New Haven 30-hour movement that will provide the replacement washer.
The lantern pinions have some wear but are quite acceptable. One trundle is loose on the escape wheel. Rather than take it apart and re-seat the troublesome trundle, a dab of Loctite Red should fix it in place.
These are two unusual issues but not insurmountable.
Because the movement was so oily and dirty I pre-cleaned the parts prior to putting them in my ultrasonic. This helps extend the life of the solution. I used a medium bristle nylon brush to clean the stubborn areas.
After cleaning and drying the parts, the pivots are polished and I was pleased to find almost no wear on any of them.
Next is the bushing work. My only concern was pushing out what remained of the bushing material in the replacement bushings after drilling. I went slowly and did not apply pressure on the cutter, letting it do its work. As I suspected the Bergeon bushings are marginally smaller but each bushing fit snugly. Although I planned on five bushings, I installed six, adding a bushing for the second wheel on the time side front plate which was a little more worn than I thought. I left the escape wheel as-is, the wear is acceptable.
Next is restringing the weights, re-assembly, and testing. All went as expected.
I have worked on a few of these movements over the years but unique issues always seem to come up. Nonetheless, they are fun to work on.
Following the movement servicing, I will move on to refreshing the case.