Wag on a wall clock – does it wag?

My wife’s uncle was an internist (internal medicine specialist) in Newfoundland and practiced for many years but dementia and its attendant complications finally got the best of him. He spent the last 5 or so years in a locked ward of a residential facility for the elderly.

As part of his practice, he set up a home office where he would receive patients and consult with colleagues. In his office was a wall clock given to him by a former patient.

When he passed away his possessions were distributed among his family members with the clock going to his brother who, himself passed away this past year. Unfortunately, there was not much interest in the clock and it spent 15+ years in a Rubbermaid container in the basement of his brother’s home.

His wife is currently in the process of moving to a smaller home, giving away what she could and since I have a keen interest in antique and vintage clocks she determined that the best place for the clock was in the hands of someone who could have it working once again. I did not have a clear idea of what she was giving me though I knew that it was a mechanical wall clock.

Quickly mounted on the wall to check things out

The style of the clock is a “wag on the wall”. It is a strange name but basically, it is a clock with the movement enclosed in a small case and with a pendulum and weights exposed.

In the years between 1660 and 1870, the wag-on-the-wall was a very common clock. It is so named because the pendulum appears to wag on the wall like a dog’s tail. It was eventually deemed not attractive enough to hang on the wall in many upscale homes, so wooden or glass and wooden cases were added. The long-case or grandfather clock actually evolved from early wags-on-the-wall clocks. Wooden cases were used to hide the unsightly weights and cast-iron pendulum.

The style did not totally disappear as many manufacturers continued making the wag-on-a-wall style clock to this day.

There are no maker’s marks on the dial or the movement but it appears to have a Canadian connection. There were several clock assemblers operating in Canada up to the mid-1970s, and it was likely assembled by the Forestville Clock Company of Toronto from parts sourced from West Germany but I will learn more as I continue my research.

The only markings on the movement are a serial or production number ending with 65 behind the pendulum leader and UW 7/29 (a date or other measurement) just above the aforementioned number. The year 1965 seems about right judging from the two-tone case tinting popular in the 1960s, The clock case is not particularly attractive today but such was the style at the time. I don’t think it will ever be my favorite wall clock.

It is a weight-driven rack and snail time and strike movement possibly made by Hermle, Mauthe or Urgos. I have worked on similar movements in the past though this one is a bit different, specifically the arrangement of the hammer assembly and the main wheels are reversed from each other.

The weights and pendulum are polished

It is not apparent upon first inspection if the movement has ever been serviced. Rather than run the risk of further wear I plan to test it briefly before servicing the movement. The movement looks robust and well made but I am expecting minor wear issues commensurate with age when I open it up.

While it is largely intact the bottom middle finial is missing. Otherwise, the case is in very good condition for its age. I mounted it on the wall to check things out and yes, it does wag!

In an upcoming article, I will go over the steps in servicing this movement.

One thought on “Wag on a wall clock – does it wag?

  1. For some reason, believed brains, education and responsibility where antidotes to losing one’s mind. Yet doctors, business leaders and others in high positions, do succumb. Moral of story: May we all live long and with our wits, Life does not come with guarantees.


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