From the conception of time, we have tried to organize ourselves and our lives around a schedule. Perhaps more than any other invention, the recording of time marked the burgeoning of a developed world. Predynastic Egypt noted the splitting of a single day and began to use obelisks or sundials to mark the various apportioned times. Eventually indexed candles burning at an established speed recorded the passage of time were, as did the still popular (though truly decorative) hourglass. The original concept of measuring of time was created to gauge planting, growing and harvest seasons to yield food resources for the earliest of humanity.

Tell that to us when we pick the softest melody for an alarm in the morning, only to still have vaguely prehistoric levels of fumbling as we hustle to bang it off.

The first mechanical clocks were made by monks in monasteries to signal canonical hours or periods for fixed times of prayer.  Weights would derive their power from water in which momentum was culled by a pendulum-like mechanism or oscillator. The managed release of this energy is called the escapement and is still used today in mechanical clocks and watches. This is where the whole ticking sound comes from! At least some iteration of the mechanical clock is what you see in most- if not all -antique clocks today.

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From Left: French 19th Century Louis XVI Bronze Mantle Clock -$4995.00,  French 19th Century Spelter and Marble Clock -$1450.00 on sale now: -$1300.00

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French 18th Century Rococo Style Cartel Bracket Clock -$3,795.00

From left: French 19th Century Ebonized Round Wall Clock -$950.00, French 19th Century Table Clock of Ebonized Wood with Brass & Shell Inlay -$795.00, Belgian 19th Century Inlay Wall Clock by B. J. Vanderveken -$2450.00

Longcase clocks (or “grandfather” clocks) are usually considered the pinnacle of mechanical clocks. They work much the same as the earliest clocks, made with weights and a pendulum. The difference is the scale and the long cabinet which encases the mechanism. These showpieces are typically seen with detailed embellishments and a hood or bonnet, which should fit the clock face. The term “grandfather clock” was first coined in 1876 after an American musician named Henry Clay Work published a popular song describing “his grandfather’s clock… too tall for a shelf… stood ninety years on the floor.” The term “grandfather clock” took off with popularity of the song.

“1. My grandfather’s clock was too large for the shelf, So it stood ninety years on the floor;

It was taller by half than the old man himself, Though it weighed not a pennyweight more.

It was bought on the morn of the day that he was born, And was always his treasure and pride;

But it stopp’d short – never to go again – When the old man died.


Ninety years without slumbering (tick, tick, tick, tick),

His life seconds numbering (tick, tick, tick, tick),

It stopp’d short – never to go again – When the old man died.

2. In watching its pendulum swing to and fro, Many hours had he spent while a boy;

And in childhood and manhood the clock seemed to know And to share both his grief and his joy.

For it struck twenty-four when he entered at the door, With a blooming and beautiful bride;

But it stopp’d short – never to go again – When the old man died.


3. My grandfather said that of those he could hire, Not a servant so faithful he found;

For it wasted no time, and had but one desire – At the close of each week to be wound.

And it kept in its place – not a frown upon its face, And the hands never hung by its side;

But it stopp’d short – never to go again – When the old man died.


4. It rang an alarm in the dead of the night – An alarm that for years had been dumb;

And we knew that his spirit was pluming for flight – That his hour of departure had come.

Still the clock kept the time, with a soft and muffled chime, As we silently stood by his side;

But it stopp’d short – never to go again – When the old man died.”

Credit: Stellan Herner

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Swedish 18th Century Swedish Case Clock -$7,995.00, English 19th Century Regency Tall Painted Case Clock -$12,250.00

Credit: Designer Charles Spada Via-Veranda Magazine

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French 19th Century Hand Painted & Brass Plate Case Clock -$3,900.00 On Sale For: $1,950.00, French 19th Century Leibher A’ Algueperse Tall Case Clock -$4,495.00

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French 19th Century Oak Empire Case Clock -$8,995.00, $French 19th Century Hand-painted Brass Plated Case Clock -$4,700.00

The appreciation of clock construction lies in understanding that first desire for advancement of society.  The human initiative to measure and govern the world around them was enough to birth the sophistication of the mechanical clock. The antique clock works, in this case, like a totem, reminding us of what we owe to these pioneers of progress.