Earlier this year I bid on an English-made Empire gallery clock at an online estate auction and won the bid. When I collected the clock I had hoped I had bought a clock with a fusee movement but it turned out to be one with a conventional spring-driven time-only movement. No matter, it was not an expensive clock.
A fusee clock has been on my wish list for several years and now I finally have one. A good friend was trimming his collection and offered me a time-only gallery clock with a fusee movement for a good price.
English fusee gallery clocks, also referred to as dial, school, office, railway, or wall clocks, are a must-have for any serious collector.
The heyday of the English gallery clock was between 1860 and 1930. Gallery clocks were made in the thousands to service the needs of industry and government. The gallery clock was a common sight in schools, offices, hospitals, rail stations, and businesses in the United Kingdom.
Gallery clocks with fusee movements vary greatly in size, style, and in construction. Despite being over 100 years old, they retain their original attributes of good timekeeping and reliability. Fusee movements are rugged in construction, and their success rests with the fusee, a conical-shaped component that evenly regulates the power output of the spring.
The gallery clock came in all sizes but still retained its basic design and shape. The most popular size was 12 inches (diameter of the painted dial). Generally, the smaller the dial, the rarer and more expensive the clock. This clock is among the group of common gallery clocks and has a 12-inch dial. The next smallest size would be a 10-inch dial and then an 8-inch one.
The majority of cases (back box and surround) were manufactured in mahogany; however, oak and rosewood were used. Mahogany examples are the most expensive. Oak cases are generally slightly cheaper. Ebonized cases are cheaper still. My new acquisition appears to be made of oak.
It has all the attributes of a classic gallery clock. Four pegs connect the two constituent parts through “rails” or “cleats.” To inspect a movement, it is just a matter of laying the clock face down and pulling out four wooden pegs, lifting the dial, bezel, and movement out of the rectangular box case. Later clocks were made without pegs with access to the movement via the dial.
However, to remove the movement entirely the hands must be removed and three screws holding the dial are removed as well. There is also a movement pan that is held by pins that must be taken off.
Most movements had anchor escapements, some had lever escapements and some had deadbeat escapements. Later models had plain pillars with screws. This clock has an anchor escapement and plain pillars so, not so old but still an antique.
This clock has a chain-driven fusee although wire and gut are quite common.
The maker is unknown.
Special care must be taken to service a fusee movement so, I will be treading carefully as I service this movement but for now I will run it to see if it lives up to expectations.