Clocks are unique in that they are "living" and working antiques.
They have even been described as "mecanical pictures". A clock also combines the skills of many specialist craftmen in addition to the clockmaker himself; the skills of the cabinetmaker, polisher, engraver, ahdn maker, brass caster and dial painter all contribute to the finished product.
Early 18th century French bracket clock: Encouraged by royal and aristocratic patronage, the production of bracket clocks flourished in France during the 17th and early 18th century. Because were seen as decorative objects, French bracket clocks have far more ornate cases than their English counterparts of the period. Most pieces were produced by Paris makers. Early French bracket clocks are fairly rare today.
Pendule religieuse, the chapter ring of early French brackets often consists of separate enamel cartouches, on a velvet ground. Velvet was used only on early French and some Dutch brackets. Dials varied widely throughout the 17th and 18th century, but by the mid-18th century the one-piece enamel or porcelain dial – either convex or flat – had become widespread. The elaborate and asymmetrical cast ormolu (gilded or gold-coloured metal) case is typical of the extravagant Rococo style, which flourished under the Regency (1715-1723), and during the reign of Louis XV. Early French brackets are nearly always striking clocks with verge escapement, but with a going barrel rather than a fuse movement. Most strike the hours on a bell, and may also strike the half-hours.
Ormolu, taken from the French term or moulu meaning 'ground gold', was the English name for the process of gilding bronze pieces of Roccoco art with a mixture of nitrate of mercury, then painting the object with a mixture of high-carat gold and mercury, before subjecting it to very high heat, which vapourises the mercury, leaving the gold adhering to the bronze. Porcelean, furniture and clocks could also be gilded using this method. This method of gilding bronze was developed as a way to save on the amount of gold which was previously applied straight onto the bronze.
Most gilders did not survive beyond 40 years of age, due to exposure to the harmful mercury fumes caused during the fire-gilding process. So no true ormolu was produced in France after around 1830 as legislation had outlawed the use of mercury; other techniques were used instead but nothing surpasses the original mercury-firing ormolu method for sheer beauty and richness of colour.
Late 18th century French bracket clocks: French bracket blocks from the late 18th century show an astonishing variety of styles and decoration. This stylistic diversity, marked by elegant Neo-classical influences, followed the exuberance of early 18th century Rococo. By the late 18th century, common case styles included the portico and other architectural forms, and figure groups. The lyre was a very popular design. French clocks from this period were made primarily in Paris.
The cartel clock – a decorative spring-driven wall clock with a cast metal case – was produced from the late 18th century, mainly in France. French cartel clocks are all of eight-day duration, with a verge escapement and a going barrel rather than a fuse. Most have a convex enamel dial. English cartels have carved and are highly sought after today.
French cartel clocks: The word “cartel” may come from the Italian “cartella”, or wall bracket, and refers to decorative, spring-driven wall clocks produced mainly in France during the second half of the 18th century. There are some early 19th cartels on the market. Cartel clocks were very popular in France, and makers produced many variations on the basic style. English makers also produced distinctive examples.
In the US, wall clocks were produced from c.1780. From c.1850, exports of inexpensive American wall clocks contributed to the decline in popularity of English wall clocks. All American wall clocks are weight-driven, with an anchor escapement and a long pendulum with a brass bob. Typical features include a white-painted metal dial, as well as a panel of verre eglomise (reverse-painted glass). The “banjo” case is the most sought-after American wall clock.
Pendulum - a pendulum is made up of a string or solid rod a weight attached to the end. Pendulums are designd in such a way that once they are moved, they will continue to swing for a long period of time. Gravity is the force that keeps the pendulum moving. Pendulums are often used in clocks because it takes the same amount of time for it to swing in one direction as it does for it to swing in the other direction. The amount of time it takes for a pendulum to swing from one side to the other and back again is called a "period". A pendulum whose period is four secound takes two seconds to swing to the left and two seconds to swing back to the right.
Quartz clock: quartz clocks operate using the mineral quartz inside of a clock to keep time. Like mechanical clocks, quartz is piezoelectric. This means that when a quartz crystal is squeezed, it generates a very small current of electricity. This also means that when electricity is passed through the quartz crystal, it vibrates. Quartz crystals all vibrate at the same frequency, meaning they shake the same number of times each second. Quartz crystals vibrate exactly 32,768 times each second. All quartz clockes contain a battery to vibrate the quartz crystal and a circuit to count how many times the crystal has shaken. The circuit then uses this information to create regular pulses of electricity. It generates one pulse every second. These pulses then make the gears of the clock move or power a digital display. The quartz crystal in a quartz clock helps keep the clock accurate.
Atomic clock: atomic clocks operate by measuring energy particles. Although their name might sound dangerous, atmic clocks are not radioactive. Atoms, the smallest unit of matter, are always changing their energy state from positive to negative. An atomic clock measures the amount of time it takes for an atom to switch its energy state. It counts how many times the atom switches from positive to negative and vice versa and then uses that number to measure the passing of time.
Incense clock: the incense clock was invented in China between the years of 960-1279 A.D. All incense clocks used burning incense to measure time. There are many types. For example, some used color. The smoke from the incense would be one color for a period of time, and then it would change, showing that a certain amount of time had passed. Some incense clockes used smell to show the passing of time. They would be divided sections of dirrent smells, and when the observer noticed a different smell, they could determine what time it was.
Japanese lacquer has been a part of the country’s tradition from its earliest history, more than 6000 years.
The methods of application are many and varied, such as makie, hira-makie, taka-makie and nashiji. Types of Japanese lacquer include tsuishu, kanakura-bori, negora and raden.
The golden age of European lacquer began in the late 17th century, following a wave of lacquered wares imported into Europe from China and Japan. The hardness, gloss and lustre of Eastern lacquer and the charm of the designs captivated everyone, creating a huge demand for lacquered furniture, wall panels and objects. Entire rooms, most notably at Versailles, were decorated with both East Asian and European lacquered panelling and furniture. Virtually de rigueur in these interiors were large, two-door lacquered cabinets in the East Asian style mounted on ornate gilded or silvered stands.
Lacquer produced for export to Europe can be divided into two major categories: "Nanban lacquer" exported through trade with the Portuguese and Spanish during the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1568–1603), and "Komo lacquer" that began to be traded with the Dutch East India Company during the early years of the Edo period (1603–1867). In 1609, the first Tokugawa shogun, Ieyasu, granted official exclusive Japanese lacquer trading rights to the Dutch East India Company. The first shipment of lacquer - chests, boxes and tables - arrived in Amsterdam in 1610. The Dutch were fascinated by the beauty and quality of the Japanese lacquerware that they started calling it 'Japan' as Chinese porcelain was called 'China'. Even among that of other Asian countries, Japanese lacquerware is prized because Japan's lacquer contains the highest proportion of the one substance that gives lacquerware its coveted qualities. It is the same chemical found in poison oak and poison ivy that is a powerful irritant to most people's skin.
Worldwide, it is called urushiol - a borrowing from Japanese, whose word for lacquer is urushi. A high quality piece of lacquerware requires the skills of several different artists, and up to ten years, to complete. Lacquer can be applied to many materials including silk, plastic, and metal, where it protects very effectively against rust; but it is most commonly used on wood. There are a great many styles of Japanese lacquerware, each with its own history and esthetic, to choose from. The divergence among them begins at the first stages with the selection of the base material and color. Lacquer itself is clear, and one style adds no pigment to it at all, employing the color and grain of the wood as part of the design.