If your grandfather clock has a brass dial, it was possibly produced in the period in between 1680 and 1770. The early brass dial clocks only had one particular hand, due to the fact the typical individual had no have to have of recognizing the time to the nearest minute, and with a bit of practise you can inform the time to the nearest 5 minutes on one particular of these early (and uncommon) clocks.

By 1730 the vast majority of grandfather clocks had two hands, for the hours and minutes. One particular-handed clocks continued to be produced in nation places for a though following 1730. Village life was extremely conservative, and the folks living in villages at this time nonetheless had no true have to have of “to the minute” time.

From about 1730 (all these figures are approximate all the way via this write-up) the brass dial clock was produced all more than England in ever-growing numbers, and the dials became a lot more ornate as time went on, in particular on the eight-day clocks. Additional characteristics appeared, such as seconds hands in a tiny subsidiary dial, date hands or wheels, and moon phases, typically in an arch on best of the dial, but from time to time in tiny aperture in the dial itself

The much easier clocks to date, and the ones most preferred in America, are the painted dial clocks, generally named “white dial clocks” in Britain.

Painted dial clocks appeared about 1765 to 1780, and following this the brass dial clock ceased to be produced, once again with just a handful of exceptions in rural places, in particular the far southern counties of England. The majority of English grandfather clocks had been produced in The Midlands and the North of England. The new painted dial was less expensive and much easier to create and much easier to study by the poor light obtainable at evening, so the brass dial was dropped from production more than a extremely short period, for our purposes it is fair to say that no brass dial clock was produced in the massive clock generating centres following 1780.

It may perhaps be worth a mention right here that the clocks we are speaking about had been no unique apart from the dial itself almost everything else remained the similar in each situations, only the dial changed.

Thankfully the painted dials then followed a particular progression as the fashions gradually changed more than time, this suggests that we can typically date a clock to the nearest 5 to ten years. – – – And it also suggests we can see at a glance the significant characteristics devoid of obtaining to dismantle the clock.

The very first white dials from 1770 to 1800 had been beautiful, basically and sparingly decorated, and with substantially of the white background displaying. Decoration consisted of spandrels painted on in gold paint in the 4 corners, (possibly to resemble the cast brass spandrels fitted to brass dials.) Occasionally a swag of flowers or equivalent was painted on the dial face, but once again extremely sparingly and restrained. The hands had been produced of steel, extremely fine, generally blued or blacked and not precisely matching.

A further year indication of an early dial is the use of dots for the minutes with tiny Arabic numerals round the dial at five, 10, 15 minutes and so forth. The hours are marked by Roman Numerals.

From 1800 to about 1830 the style of the dial changed slightly, matching steel hands had been utilised from now on. The minutes had been nonetheless dots and not the lines inside two narrow concentric circles that we are utilised to, but the minute numbers changed to the quarters only, alternatively of each and every 5 minutes. The missing numbers had been generally replaced with tiny symbols, generally hunting like stars.

At this time also it became trendy to use Arabic numerals for the hours alternatively of Roman numerals. The painted background decoration is beginning to spread out as well arched dials have a scene painted in the arch, generally with a spray of flowers on every single side. The corner painting is spreading a tiny as well, and the imitation spandrels are now generally geometric styles, or a fan shape, or a floral style, which fills the corner.

Now we come to the later clocks, of about 1830 to 1880. In the North of England following 1830 grandfather clocks progressively got larger and larger, till by the finish of the period some of them had been enormous – – – the dials had been generally fifteen inches wide and the clocks had been eight feet tall, from time to time nine feet or a lot more.

Provided the bigger location of dial to be decorated the dial painters went to town, the corner paintings became tiny masterpieces in their personal appropriate, and the decoration spread from the corner appropriate up the side of the dial circle, to meet the subsequent corner painting, and so on. Most of these clocks have an arched dial, and the artist painted in a substantial scene, generally a biblical illustration, or a nation scene, a nautical scene, a ruined abbey, or anything ordered specially by the consumer.

The hours have gone back to Roman numerals and keep that way the hands are now extremely decorated brass and matching. These brass hands had been utilised following 1830 for the rest of the period when grandfather clocks had been produced, in other words up to 1880, possibly in a handful of uncommon situations to 1890.

The minutes are shown by a minute band, two concentric circles close collectively, with lines inside to represent every single minute and no minute numbers at all. Date and seconds subsidiary dials are usual now, and the tiny ornate hands fitted to these are also brass and matching.

To finish off, right here is a swift guide to the many characteristics and their dates: (Of course, all dates are approximate, to the nearest ten years.)


Dotted Minutes – 1770 to 1800 Minutes numbered each and every 5 minutes – 1770 to 1800 Minutes numbered each and every quarter hour – 1800 to 1820 No minute numbers – 1820 to 1880 Roman hour numerals – 1770 to1800 then 1825 to1880 Arabic hour numerals – 1800 to 1825 Complete minute band – 1815 to 1880

Corner decoration

Flowers or fruit – 1770 to 1800 Fans, shells or abstract – 1790 to 1830 No painting – left blank – 1780 to 1820 Gold imitation spandrels – 1775 to 1785