Hamilton Clock Co. ogee – a dull and tired case needs help

Should antique clock cases be refinished or rejuvenated? It can be a judgement call. I am all for patina and preserving an old clock case but there are times when certain amount of intervention is practical from an aesthetics and resale point of view.

There is a certain philosophical argument among collectors who believe on the one hand that any intervention is sacrilegious while others feel that some amount of intervention may be necessary to preserve an antique clock.

Auction photo

I won this Hamilton Clock Company 30-hour ogee clock at auction in the spring of 2022 and only now have had a chance to work on it.

I was not specifically looking for a 30-hour ogee as I have 6 already (and who needs another 30-hour clock) but as this clock was made in Hamilton Ontario, Canada it is special to me as adding Canadian clocks is a prime goal as a collector.

Auction photo showing the lower acid etched tablet

A brief history

The company was established in 1876, after the failure of the Canada Clock Company (version 1) in Whitby, Ontario. Using a new factory building and the original production machinery the second company, the Hamilton Clock Co. was formed by three principles, James Simpson, George Lee, and J. F. Collins.

The Hamilton Clock Company made a valiant effort to provide clocks for the Canadian market, in competition with the huge U.S. clock factories in Connecticut that already dominated the market. 

Ogee clocks were manufactured at Hamilton, and these were identical in construction to those that had been made at Whitby with veneered pine cases. After four years the company went bankrupt but was shortly resurrected as the Canada Clock Company (version 2), again using the same Hamilton production facilities. Clock production ended in the mid-1880s and it was not until a new Canadian-owned clock company emerged in 1904 (the Pequegnat Clock Co.) in Berlin, Ontario that Canadian-made clocks resumed production.

It is tempting to group the three companies into one, but the design focus of each company separated them from each other, the early company focused on 30-hour movements and simply styled mantel clocks while 8-day wall clocks and more ornate mantel clocks were a feature of the later company.

The case

Yes, it is dulled and tired and it has had a rough life. These clocks are handed down from one owner to the next and in the process they undergo changes. Some of the changes are reversible and some are not. Luckily this clock can be revived and brought back to life.

There are veneer losses, particularly on the two upper corners and the trim strip along the right side. The bottom strip is missing completely. So the challenge is to replace missing veneer with new and old stock but the end result is not always perfect.

Let’s see what I can do with the case.


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