Well it’s already August and it’s still raining as I write this.
A few years ago I noticed a sharp increase in the number of dial and drop dial clocks appearing on a certain online auction site, all with the same odd features that simply weren’t ‘right’. Hinges on the left, bevelled glass and impressive names on dials were just three common features; I also saw that many were being sold from Lancashire.
I did a bit of research, saved images to make closer comparisons and eventually came to the conclusion that they were all fakes (deliberately aged to deceive). The one thing that left no doubt about this was that they nearly all had the same serial number ‘6472 London’ stamped on the backplate. It all seemed to quieten down after a year or two but a couple of months back I stumbled upon this research again and added a new page to my website to warn others.
Recently, someone finally brought me a fusee drop dial clock to repair that he bought three years ago for £500 believing it to be an antique, and this enabled me to impress the owner by telling him the serial number before I’d even looked at it. It also allowed me to make a closer study of one of these fakes first hand.
Sure enough, the hinge is on the left, it has bevelled glass and a posh sounding name on the dial (for somewhere that doesn’t exist). This is a drop dial with a large glazed aperture under the dial which was a bit unusual but still very collectible, if genuine, because it has a small 8in dial. However, it has the same movement found in 12in dial clocks so it’s probably in a drop dial case just so that the standard length pendulum has room to swing. It has the ubiquitous 6472 London stamp on the backplate which is such a giveaway that you wonder why the forgers don’t vary it a bit. I suspect that they made up a single punch so that they would only have to stamp it once instead of using several punches for different numbers as the originals had.
The brasswork is typically poorly cast which helps deceive as it looks (and probably is) hand done, but not by a craftsman. Clearly it was made somewhere where labour is cheap and brass is plentiful. This makes me think of India or China. This particular one has a missing component, the fusee stopwork. And that’s why it failed and ended up with me – the cable had broken when it was overwound.
Now in most fusee dial clock that I have repaired, the cable (or more often the gut) is held in the fusee with a simple knot. But this one had a circular disc (of cast base metal) on the end that was such a tight fit in the hole that I had to drill it out. The cable was thinner than normal and it all reminded me of the inner cable you used to see on a bicycle brake lever. I bet that was the source.
I offered to make up a new fusee stopwork assembly but the owner chose not to go to that expense. I don’t blame hime but the clock is now running again and he’s still pleased with it despite having paid way over the odds for it. So if you’re thinking of getting a dial clock, check out the tell tale signs first, especially the serial number. Then, no matter how cheap it seems, walk away.