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Changes in the Design of Standing and Table Clocks Over Time

The clocks called “lantern” were the most primitive, since they spread throughout Europe since the fifteenth century. During the seventeenth century they experienced important advances, with steering wheel escape and two weights that allowed for 30 hours of autonomy.

To give a greater prominence to clocks in domestic interiors, there were some changes in the design of cuckoo clocks with the passage of time. Clocks with a high box were created, which effectively protected the pendulum and the weights with chains. They were predominately English creations that were developed especially from the last third of the seventeenth century, although the inventor of the pendulum clock was the Dutch Christiaan Huygens, who patented it in 1657. Some copies from this inventor have been auctioned at auctions of table clocks on-line.

The invention in the 70s of the anchor escape made possible the location of long pendulums, oscillating by seconds, and by then the type of tall wooden boxes that are still common today became widespread.

The inclusion of sophistications such as the lunar phases or various types of calendars became common in the 18th century and the sounding of tones on the quarter, half, and hour became characteristic elements of the best models. Particularly popular were the carillon models with the famous “Westminster” sound, whose tuning consists of four chambers and which at the exact hours marks the number of them.

French wall clocks of the 18th and 19th centuries

Advancing the reign of Louis XIV, the great furniture maker André-Charles Boulle restored the artisanship of tortoiseshell and brass, which were applied to furniture and famous clocks that can be considered either for the wall, fireplace or table. These types of clocks have been carried out until the twentieth century and are clearly constructed for the wall, they are provided with a matching bracket or even a pilaster that lifts them from the ground.

The first models were Louis XIV style, but were later made in Regency and Louis XV versions, always embellished by figures or decorative details in bronze. The rococo and neoclassical models known as “cartel” were usually in gilded bronze and were rather small format, ideal for more intimate spaces. In the nineteenth century, the provincial clocks of Morez, with a tall wooden box (usually painted), were provided with one or more bells and had pendulums with embossed decorations made of brass sheets.

Other models of the 19th century

Cuckoo clocks, “cucut” clocks, or so-called “ratera” clocks are examples of popular types, with pendulums and weights, whose boxes are decorated with elements of carved wood or cut and painted engravings, which gives them a charmingly naïve character. In Spain the Elizabethan and Alfonsine types of “ox eye” with marble spheres and enameled numbers, framed with mother-of-pearl inlays, were enormously popular. For this specific reason, you can find a wide variety of models in some online art auctions, such as Balclis. Also with wooden boxes (but larger), Viennese model clocks were very famous from the nineteenth century and until the first half of the twentieth century.