Antiques A-Z: Clocks

1st September 2013

Clocks have been used for many centuries, beginning as sun clocks and leading to the modern atomic clocks of today.

The first mechanical clock was developed in the 13th Century in monasteries. Used to toll the bell that brought monks to prayer, the oldest surviving mechanical clock can be seen on display at Salisbury Cathedral and dates back to 1386.

Springs first appeared during the 15th Century. But problems with consistent timekeeping sparked off many inventions to stabilise the internal movement of the clock. Astronomer Galileo first had the idea to add a pendulum to the clock design, but it was Christian Huyguns who is credited with developing the first pendulum device in the 1650s. These greatly improved the accuracy and timekeeping of the clocks.

The electric clock first appeared in the 19th century, but it was the development of electronics in the 20th century that revolutionized clock manufacture.

Types of clock

Wall clocks

  • Lantern clocks
  • Tavern and dial clocks
  • Cartel clocks
  • American wall clocks

Longcase clocks

Bracket clocks

  • Regency bracket clocks
  • Victorian bracket clocks
  • American shelf clocks
  • Carriage clocks

Precision clocks & chronometers
Electric clocks
Novelty clocks

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