Antique pillar dating
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As the market for provincially-made clocks has grown (naturally many people wish to own a clock from their locality) specialist publications have been written on a range of British clockmaking centres.These are typically accompanied by information regarding otherwise obscure local clockmakers - from detailed analysis of surviving examples of their work to the simplest of genealogical data.
Whatever lies beneath the hood, the most immediate difference between one longcase and another is seen in the design of the case or the treatment of the face.
A late Victorian 6ft 4in (1.94m) tall mahogany regulator with a single-train movement with centre seconds, subsidiary hour and minute dials, with offset weight and mercury compensated adjustable pendulum.
The silvered dial is inscribed ' Russells Limited, Liverpool'.
These precision timekeepers, often with outwardly simple dials and cases but very substantial six-pillar movements and heavy grid-iron pendulums, have seen some substantial price movements in recent times.
Examples by leading makers such as John Arnold, Edward John Dent, Benjamin Vulliamy and Charles Frodsham are commanding record sums.
Good clocks by eminent names such as Ahasuerus Fromanteel, Thomas Tompion, George Graham, the Knibb family, Joseph Windmills and John Ellicott will bring five- and six-figure sums on the occasions they come to the market.
But, across a typical year, only a small handful is likely to be available.
These venerable timepieces, housed in elegant cases of ebony, walnut, mulberry, marquetry or japanned lacquer, have a long collecting history and appeal beyond the relatively small field of horology.
Pricing depends heavily on quality, condition, movement and maker.
Most longcase clocks strike the time on each hour or fraction of an hour, but musical movements were a further sophistication and, by the Edwardian era, many longcase clocks, often with monumental revivalist case styles, housed triple weight-driven movements capable of quarter-striking with the Westminster, Whittington or St Michaels's chimes.
These high quality clocks, capable of high four- and sometimes five-figure sums a decade ago, are sometimes hampered by size but remain popular with the export market.
Early rarities from the 'Golden Age' of English clockmaking in the late 17th century are the preserve of the wealthiest collectors.