Definition of Grandmother and Granddaughter Clocks
When I first started selling clocks in 1972, I was always given to understand by people vastly more experienced than me, that a grandmother clock was in fact a longcase clock that was 6’ 3” tall or less.
Over the years, I have continued to use this rule as a guideline, although I have to say that nowadays, I tend to judge each individual clock on its merits.
If a clock is very slim, spring-driven, has a dome top and an 8” or less square or arch brass dial, (many of the movements in this type of clock tend to play chimes) I will definitely class it as a grandmother clock even if sometimes it is slightly over 6’3”. However if the clock is weight driven, has a dome top or swan necks, is more substantial in stature and defined grandfather shape, and has a 10” dial, I will sometimes class it as a small grandfather clock even if it is less than 6’3” tall.
The standard grandmother clocks tend to have been made in the 1920’s and 30’s and vary between 5’4” and 5’9” in height. This is the height that I find to be most popular. I receive many e mails regarding grandmother clocks and their size, and although I have discussed the point many times with my clock peers, we are unable to come up with a hard and fast rule.
Personally, I would class any clock less than 5’2” tall as a granddaughter clock. Generally, because most of them were made after 1930, the cases and are not normally of high quality and many of them tend to be veneered on plywood. The veneers used are normally oak, mahogany and walnut.
You will sometimes see them in solid cases, but these are the exceptions rather than the rule. They were not expensive clocks when first made, and so a lot of outlay in their manufacture was prohibitive.
The vast majority of them have round, electroplated silver dials, with numbers that are painted on rather than engraved.
They are still not expensive clocks, and I often think they are possibly undervalued, and may come into their own one day.