Antique Clocks : Antique Banjo Clocks

Now we’re getting to the banjo clock. I don’t
know if you’ve been all waiting for that, is a name that starts to sound familiar to
you. It’s important to know, the, the banjo clock was not known as the banjo clock at
the time. It only later on, somebody thought that that style of case, actually looked something
like a banjo. I’m not sure, even I agree with that. But, it was an extremely important invention,
by Simon Willard. He called it, his improved timepiece, or patent timepiece, because he
had one of the earliest patents, which protected him for awhile from imitators. But, the banjo
clock solved a couple of problems. He wanted an eight day clock. Remember, weekly winding.
He wanted one that was relatively inexpensive, compared to the long case, or grandfather
clocks at the time. But, he wanted still something that was accurate, and attractive. So, he
developed this case. We see, basically, we have a head to house the movement. We have
a throat for the pendulum to swing in, and we have a box down below to allow the pendulum
to swing, and behind all that, through the “throa, throat down to the, down to the box
at the bottom, the weight descends which powers the clock. There’s a excellent, relatively
new book by Paul Foley, that’s all about banjo clocks, or as he calls them, his patent timepieces.
And full of great illustrations, lists of many makers, much information about banjo
clocks, in general. We’ll talk about them more as, cause they’ve been made for almost
two hundred years now, and there are more modern versions of those. What’s inside a
banjo clock, are movements, pretty much like this. I’ll turn this around and then turn
it around again. Relatively simple. They’re actually kind of small versions of grandfather
clock movements made at the same time. But time piece, only one winder, it’ll, just a
time keeper. This is a special one, though. This banjo clock, I got recently, and there
was a note inside, indicating it might have been made by somebody named Kimble in eighteen
thirty-one. But, when I took the movement out, low and behold, scratched, probably in
the writing of the maker, it says made by John Kimbell, it gives the date in eighteen
thirty-one, and he’s indicates that it was made to pay old debts. We can’t imagine what
those debts might have been, but it’s interesting to have this kind of inscription and provenance
on that. I’m certainly happy to have that. And, if you ever take the face off a banjo
clock, you’re going to see what’s inside it. You probably won’t. You’ll just want to hang
it on your wall, and enjoy it.

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