Longcase clocks dials can often require
restoration/conservation work as they are rather vulnerable to damage and degradation.
Much can be learnt about an individual clock
from its dial; the type and style of decoration, the mounting method, and the name of the clock maker
is usually present, all giving valuable
information to attribute the work to particular people, dates and locations and
placing the clock at a particular point in the progression of styles. Because of this
it is very desirable to preserve dials and if possible retain or restore any
information and decoration before it is lost, especially so for painted
dials which are more prone to deterioration.
Work to brass dials can involve repairs to the
dial sheet, mounting feet etc., replacement of missing pieces and re silvering,
(tending to be the engraved areas). Any required engraving on missing pieces can also
be carried out. Work to painted dials can get a lot more complex, often involving
treating rust, conserving flaking paint, re-inking the numerals lines and script,
restoring painted scenes and decorations, straightening distortions, reattaching dial
feet, and repairing moon phase mechanisms.
It is very important that any work is done
correctly after very detailed examinations, with a worn dial nearly always there is
information hidden in the dials that to the naked eye cannot be seen but with the
correct equipment and techniques can be revealed.
painted moon phase dial by William Finnemore of Birmingham from a Scottish clock, at
this point with no visible clockmaker named. Dial makers on painted dials are often
stamped on the back and often also on the back of date wheels and moon dials, With
just the Finnemore information alone this can be dated to c.1815-22.
the dial has been cleaned ready for further inspection, some of the background white
is flaking with some rust beneath, the painted corner decoration is worn and damaged
with gilt areas worn off, much of the blackwork (numerals and lines) has worn off and
faded and the hemisphere decoration is completely gone
dial examined under Ultra Violet light. Residue of the original ink/paint can be
present in the white background but not seen under normal light, the UV light makes
this residue fluoresce, becoming visible, the exact style and position of missing
original lines, numerals and script can be found in this way.
Below is well illustrated the difference in what can be seen under normal light
compared to under UV light, here the clock makers name is revealed either side of the
30 minute mark, not a typical position generally but perhaps more common on Scottish
dial now has all its important features returned accurately and is a fine example
of a Finnemore dial of the period, with very interesting transitional features of
the single ring and minute divisions and the quarter hour minute numbers and a
good typical Finnmore starburst corner decoration.
EXAMPLES OF RESTORED DIALS BEFORE/AFTER:
|A dial by the Osborne dial manufactory c.1790 on a clock by William Bayford, Bishop's Stortford.|
of a distinct style used in this first of three distinct periods
of dialmaking. Features distinct to Osborne. T. Osborne in partnership
with J. Wilson were the first noted makers of the painted
form of longcase dial.
Interesting feature being the moon dial and
especially the hemisphere maps , which on this dial are of a
particularly detailed design which has also been noted on some Wilson
dials (post partnership ) requiring re drawing by hand.
Note that this dial required previous poor repairs to be removed, photo shows this done first.
|A more simple clean and touching in of detail on the numerals and script. Period 2|
dial on a clock by Henry Peach of Beaminster, being from the second
period 1800-30 In which the use of arabic numbers for the hours
was quite common. This period sees a bit of experimentation with
styles, and the phasing out of minute numbers, this dial has only the
15,30,45 & 60, earlier would tend to have every 5 minutes indicated.|
This dial cleaned, numerals and script restored.
arch top dial on a clock by Matthew Collingwood of Alnwick can be
seen to be of a style of decoration distinctly different from the
others, being of the last period of painted dials. All of the corner
and arch space filled with painted scenes, a return to roman
hours and a basic segmented chapter ring with no minutes
This dial amongst other issues had a problem with crazing and flaking paint and worn name.
dating from about 1795 by James Wilson of Birmingham, on a simple 30
hour longcase clock for Henry Spiller of Biddeford.|
similarities with the Osborne dial at the top, distinctly similar
features of decoration but two dials at opposite ends of the makers
This dial suffering severe fire damage, poor overpainting, and loose dial feet.
Here showing the moon phase dial by William Finnemore of Birmingham, on a clock by Thomas Barclay, Montrose.
a similar state to the other moon dial by Osborne shown above but
clearly of a different period (approx. 35years later) . Here the
hemisphere maps not yet restored, but fortunately these Finnemore maps
were avaliable as transfers, a far simpler process than re-drawing by