THE history of time pieces, from the days of the sundials and hour-glasses to the most modern pieces of mechanism, is truly fascinating.
Clocks, nowadays, are one of the most useful forms of brica-brac and may be a happy combination of beauty and utility. A clock has almost an air of life about it, and is often great company in the lonely house, whether it has a merry chime, a deepandsolemnnote or merely a businesslike tick-tick.
. Clocks have great charm as ornaments if properly used, and when one has had a clock for many years it often acquires the affectional value of an old friend. Remember, though, that a clock is a clock only if it strikes;otherwise, it is a timepiece!
The earliest clocks that resembled ours were made by Peter Lightfoot, a monk of Glastonbury Abbey, England, about the year 1300. The first clocks were used mostly in towers and cathedrals, so as to give room for their long weights and heavy mechanism. One of the oldest in existence, made about 1300, is in the Cathedral at Strassburg, and there are a few very old and interesting ones in some of the ancient English abbeys.
Chamber clocks came into use about 1600. One of the earliest on record was given to Anne Boleyn by Henry VIII on her wedding morn, and this clock may still be seen at Windsor Castle. It was made of gilded metal of fantastic design; and, in fact, all the early clocks were very ornate, as they were a great luxury, and the proud possessors wanted them much ornamented in order to call attention to them.
To-day, there are clocks suitable for all occasions, all rooms and decorative schemes. The collector of old clocks becomes most enthusiastic, as there are so many interesting types.
Perhaps the most common mistake made in the use of clocks is in the matter of size. Often one goes into a tiny hall or small apartment and is confronted by a huge grandfather clock or ponderous mantel clock that almost “swamps” the room and looks awkward and aggressive; or else one may see a beautiful, large room with massive furnishings, in which there is such a tiny clock that one cannot read the time from the other side of the room.
IF ONE has a large hall, staircase or living room in simple style, the grandfather or long-case clock is a very useful and dignified piece of furnishing. Some long-case clocks are so suited to their niche in the staircase that they seem almost to be on guard—or the comforting spirit of the staircase.
Long-case clocks are of many varieties.
They have been made in many countries and some of the finest grandfather clocks come from Holland and England. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries many long-case clocks were made with elaborate lacquer and inlaid ebony cases, and such clocks are usable in rooms showing a Chinese influence. However, the usual long-case clocks are of mahogany, rosewood, or walnut, and are of simple and beautiful proportions.
One of the most famous makes of old long-case clocks, and one greatly valued by collectors, was that made in our own country, then called British North America, by Thomas Lister, of Halifax, during the years 1760 and 1800. These clocks may be identified by the following quaint verse which was inscribed or pasted on the inside of the door:—
“Lo! here I stand by thee
To give thee warning day and night
For every tick that I do give Cuts short the time thou hast to live.
Therefore a warning take by me To serve thy God as I serve thee
Each day and night be on thy guard
And thou shalt have a just reward.”
The original Wago’-the-Wall clocks came from Holland. They were shipped
without cases to save space in transportation, and were often used upon the walls as they arrived, with their hanging chains and weights.
They are very quaint and decorative on certain wall spaces. The dials are usually white, and square, and gaily painted at the top with garlands, doves, cherubs and such sentimental figures.
Among the more graceful wall clocks are the “banjo”clocks, so named from their general design.
These were first manufactured about 1802 and have been popular ever since. They look particularly well on a long, narrow wall, or admirably fill a narrow panel.
Other wall clocks, such as cuckoo clocks and musical clocks, comefrom Switzerland and are very quaint in certain types of rooms. A cuckoo clock should not be used in a formal or dignified room, but is delightful in the nursery, informal breakfast room, or cosy sitting room. Its comely shape, the clever carving of the soft-toned wood, the long graceful weights and the merry call of the cuckoo are cheerful, and particularly entrancing to the children.
Some of the Swiss musical clocks are of more formal designs and may be used in any room where the coloring of their wood and their size make them suitable. The charming littie tunes that tinkle out each hour are sometimes a pleasant tonic if one is feeling
lonesome or moody. Clocks with melodious chimes are also agreeable reminders of the hours.
OLDER clocks all hung on the wall, but the mantel type came into vogue about the time of Louis XIV. The French and Italian clocks were very ornate, although often beautiful, made in fantastic designs in marble, porcelain, gilt, bronze, etc. Sometimes they were so elaborate and of such delicate workmanship that they were kept under glass cases. German clocks in Dresden designs were also gay. Such clocks as these need to be used very carefully, in surroundings of great simplicity, and with regard to their colorings and a knowledge of their period, in relation to the furnishings about them.
The mantelpiece is an obvious place for the clock but one must use great discrimination in the choice that will suit the particular mantelpiece in size, balance, coloring and period. A clock too large looks overbearing, and is anything but restful.
Mantel clocks can be bought in all sizes, so as to be of the right proportion for your mantel.
See that the clock gives a nice sense of balance, and although it will be used as the central and dominant figure or, perhaps, the only piece of mantel decoration, there should be a restful space on each side of it. Of course it should not loom up in front of a picture. Usually, a low clock of the Tambour type has pleasing proportions for a mantelpiece. Do not use a mahogany clock on an oak or walnut mantel, or vice versa. A mantelpiece of wood painted white or cream will assimilate a clock of dark wood, and often strikes a note of effective contrast.
A wooden clock will not look so well upon a marble mantelpiece, as that calls for a more formal clock of perhaps the French type.
A wooden clock may be used upon a stone or brick fireplace with good effect, but an ornate or even simple marble or gilt clock would not suit the informality of a brick fireplace.
The mantelpiece clock must have a regard for its companion pieces. How often one sees a huge clock towering between delicate little candlesticks, or perhaps flanked by heavy pottery or pieces
of sculpture that quite overbalance the clock.
Do not put a delicate, French, gilt clock on a mantelpiece with Colonial candlesticks, or a Dresden china clock on the same shelf with Majolica ware. Some
marble clocks are lovely but must have dignified companion pieces used with them.
Seth Thomas Colonial Clocks
THE Seth Thomas, New England clocks, are famous and much appreciated by lovers of antiques. Seth Thomas began the manufacture of clocks in Plymouth over a hundred years ago, and some of the quaint old designs in mantel clocks are very picturesque for use in rooms of a not too formal character. They may be used on stone or brick fireplaces and reproductions of original models may be got in oak or mahogany. They are charming for a Colonial room or the living-room of a summer home.
There are many styles of cabinet clocks that may be used on the top of bookcases, highboys, or lowboys. Desk clocks come in many attractive forms. One pretty model comes as a square flat dial set in a swinging frame of wood like the desk. If one wants a clock for a boudoir desk there are charming ones to choose from of flat, octagonal shape in brilliant colored enamel that will carry out the color note of the boudoir. Some of the little flat
traveling clocks in leather cases of various colors may also be used on the boudoir desk.
There are hosts of pretty bedroom clocks for mantelpiece, bedside-table or dressing table. Dainty Dresden timepieces look well on the white mantelpiece. Little metal clocks of bronze, silver, brass, or gun-metal are pretty for the desk, and the French colored enamel or ivory clocks of simple design are lovely for the dressing table, where they may echo the color note of the other accessories.
Alarm clocks, although often unpleasantly useful, are seldom decorative. Do not spoil the effect of your bedroom with an ugly nickel-plated alarm clock; keep it out of sight except when needed.
The kitchen clock may as well be attractive, and for the kitchen furnished with blue and white spice-jars, etc., there are pretty Dutch clocks of blue and white china that are festive and dainty.
The little traveling clocks, with soft English leather cases which fold up flat, are very useful, and make one feel at home, even in the room of a strange hotel.
It is worth while to consider your clocks, as they need not be just conveniences, but may give great pleasure with their beauty and add quite a note of character to the room in which they are used.
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