John and Grandfather Clocks
Over the past few weeks, I have been asked several times, both by e mail and phone, whether I ever get tired of Grandfather Clocks. The simple answer is no, I do not.
I love being involved with Grandfather Clocks, it is engrained in my soul and I cannot see myself ever retiring.I shall probably be buying, restoring and selling them until such time that my Lord and Maker finally calls it a day for me.It's nice to make a profit out of my clocks, of course it is, but it is not just that.I enjoy meeting new people and making new friends and I would like to think that most, if not all of my customers, look upon me as a friend. Above all, I get immense personal satisfaction from the look of joy on somebody's face when I am able to supply them with just the clock they have been looking for, often for a painstakingly long time.It makes me feel good inside and there is no substitute for that.
Moon Phases Clocks
This type of antique grandfather clock first came into being in the early 18th century .The moon phases discs were very small at that time,about the size of an old penny, and thus they were called penny moons .As arched dial clocks gained momentum, so the moon phase disc increased in size to the one with which we are all now most familiar.ie.9" diameter
A moon phases disc normally has 4 small paintings on it. Two are moon faces which are opposite to each other,and then you have two other pictures which can be a combination of things.eg sailing ships, country scenes,cottages etc..A full moon occurs every 29 1/2 days,after which time,the moon which started at the top of the dial will be at the bottom and vice versa. Every 15 days,either the country scene or the sailing ship or whatever else will be at the top and obviously, its opposite will be at the bottom.
Moon phases grandfather clocks were designed for one main reason. That reason was so that anyone wishing to travel by night would be able to tell from his clock when the next full moon would be and thus be able to plan his travel at a time when there would be most light to be guided by.
Antique Grandfather Clock Dials
Hands up those of you who own a grandfather clock which has roman numerals on the dial and have never noticed that the one of the numerals was wrong.? If you are honest,I expect that a lot of hands will reach for the sky.Have a look at the number 4.
In roman numerals it should be 1V but it is nearly always 1111.
I have discussed this point many times with my clock peers and we can only come up with the fact that 1111 balances out the dial better with the nmber V111 on the opposite side.If anyone amongst you knows of another reason ,I would be most delighted to hear it.
UPDATE: Oct 04
My thanks to Martin Hyde who kindly provides the following interesting comments ...
I have been reading your website and noticed that you mention the Roman numeral IIII instead of IV. It is the case that the Roman's themselves did not use IV to represent the number 4, it is a much later invention for expediency (I think it came around in the late 18th Century). They never had a rule such as "if there is a smaller number in front of a larger number then it must be taken away from the larger number before carrying on" - their system was purely additive. Similarly, the number 9 would be VIIII, forty nine would be XXXXVIIII; and so on.
I would assume therefore, that the use of IIII on clocks alludes to these older times. Examples of the original Roman use are replete in the literature.
Grandfather / Longcase / Tallcase / Moonphase Clocks.Which one to buy?
Often, when potential customers and thus potential friends visit my
premises to view my grandfather / longcase / tallcase / moonphase clocks, they ask
me this question,"If you were me, which clock would you choose for
yourself?". My answer to this question is quite simple and
straightforward and always the same. A clock is a personal thing, and
provided that it is suitable for your home and within your
spending compass, choose the one which you personally like best.Choose
your grandfather / longcase / tallcase clock in the same careful way
you chose your partner for life. Choose the one you are most attracted
to and the one which you would be happy to live with for the rest of
your days.It is a simple,effective and truthful answer. It is my belief
that the potential investment value of a grandfather / longcase /
tallcase clock should only play a secondary roll when considering which
one to buy. People are sometimes a bit surprised by this answer as on
many occasions the clock which they like best is not the most
expensive, but that is not the important issue, even though it means
less money for me! When they have had time to reflect for a moment,
they tend to agree that it is a good and productive way of going about