Antiques Column with Michael Dowse: Popular clocks have stood the test of time

The Antiques Roadshow comes to Scarborough ,local Nigel Howard with his Carriage clock. .Picture Richard Ponter.121832f.
The Antiques Roadshow comes to Scarborough ,local Nigel Howard with his Carriage clock. .Picture Richard Ponter.121832f.
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Carriage clocks, small, portable and spring driven, with carrying handles are among the most popular clocks with collectors today. At the turn of the century Abraham-Louis Breguet developed the Carriage clock, called in France a “Pendule de Voyage”. Made mainly in France throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, the largest market for them was in Britain and America.

Manufacture of this clock for carriages was well established in France by the 19th century. The escapement was located on the horizontal platform at the top of the clock, visible through a glazed aperture, similar to those used in watches and unaffected by movement. Makers in Paris assembled the workings of clock and case and stamped their marks on the movement.

Cases were usually rectangular, earliest versions having brass frames cast in one piece, with bevelled glass panels revealing the movement.

After 1845 makers would assemble cases from several parts, allowing for variety in design, including small (mignomette), full size and giant versions.

The finest cases were gilded and engraved with foliate patterns.

Later a small number were produced with decorative enamel or porcelain panels. Most were sold with carrying cases.

Dials are mostly white enamelled copper with blued steel hands. French Carriage clocks sold in Britain would often have a signature on the dial of a British retailer with serial number and maker’s stamp on the movement. Britain produced a small number of Carriage clocks with plainer, heavier cases, but considered to be of a higher quality.