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Longcase clock by Ahasuerus Fromanteel

  • How the clock works

    How the clock works


Height: 193.000 cm

M&ME CAI 2099

Prehistory and Europe

    Longcase clock by Ahasuerus Fromanteel

    London, England, around AD 1655

    A popular style for more than two centuries

    Following the introduction of the pendulum clock by Christiaan Huygens in The Hague, in 1657, time measurement became much more precise. Previously, clocks could not achieve an accuracy of more than fifteen to thirty minutes per day. The new clocks, however, were accurate to as little as five minutes per week.

    Pendulum clocks were commonly of eight-day duration, which meant they had to be wound less frequently than before. However, they were consequently of heavier construction: the driving weights alone could have a combined weight of 28 lbs (12.7 kg). The need to support the increased weight of the clock, and to protect the mechanism and dial from interfering hands, led to the introduction of the longcase or grandfather clock. This style remained popular for more than two centuries.

    This longcase clock, made by Ahasuerus Fromanteel, is housed in an architectural style, ebonized pear-wood case. It strikes the hours and the dial shows hours and minutes. The eight-day weight-driven movement has a verge escapement and a short 'bob' pendulum. The clock has 'bolt-and-shutter' maintaining power, which keeps it going while it is being wound, a recent innovation to maintain the accuracy of the clocks, which would otherwsie sop while they were being wound.

    Ahasuerus Fromanteel was born in Norwich in 1607 but came to London in 1631 where he joined the Blacksmiths' Company. In 1632 he joined the newly-formed Clockmakers' Company. He was one of the foremost makers of the new pendulum clocks in the 1660s. He also had a business in Amsterdam where his family originated. He died in 1693.

    T. Robinson, The longcase clock (Woodbridge (Suffolk), Antique Collector's Club, 1981)

    H. Tait, Clocks and watches (London, The British Museum Press, 1983)

    P.G. Dawson, C.B. Drover and D.W. Parkes, Early English clocks (Woodbridge, Antique Collectors Club, 1982)


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