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Restoration of an antique Dutch Clock
We are currently involved in the restoration of a "Friese Stoelklok", purchased in a local auction some time ago. We thought that clock enthusiasts might be interested in seeing the progress of the project. Comments and suggestions will also be welcome.
Click on any picture for a larger image
Nothing is known of the clock's history. I bought it at a small auction house, knowing very little about it, except that it looked interesting. It looked as if it had been in a fire, with thick deposits of sooty dirt all over. The dial had scorch marks? and bubbling of the paint. There was little real damage, however, and it seemed a good candidate for restoration.
The paint on the iron dial was in poor condition, but enough detail remained to be confident about the style of the numerals and the decoration to the actual dial.
4. The Original dial 5. Enhancing the picture reveals more detail
5a. Cleaning reveals more 6. First draft of the restoration by Tim Garrett
Removing the old paint revealed marks scratched into the dial with the outline of the dial. They show either that the dial painter changed his mind, or that it has been repainted before.
Some details of the picture above the dial were revealed on cleaning and examining with UV light, but the restoration must be speculative. Traditional designs often included rustic scenes with houses, windmills and boats. We identified at least 2 horses and human figures.
6a. an appropriately pastoral scene added.
These clocks were decorated with gilt lead castings. Some of these were present, but those surrounding the dial are missing (see below for restoration). The picture below gives an idea of what a complete clock should look like.
The name "Stoelklok" relates to the chair-like platform on which the clock stands. It consists of a backboard, 27 inches high, sawn into the shape of 2 mermaids at the sides, an arched top, and decorative bottom portion. From this projects a platform for the clock to stand on (on its own little stool see - fig. 11 & 12), and a hood to cover the top.
These wall brackets were painted with various designs, and often brightly coloured. Later versions have brightly painted mermaids as in fig. 7, but there is no evidence of anything other than a restrained yellow band around the outline, so I have reluctantly given up the idea of garishly painted mermaids.
The Friese stoelklok may be criticised horologically - the wide-swinging, short pendulum and verge escapement are not designed for precision timekeeping, but they are uniquely beautiful and ingenious mechanisms.
There are many variations on the theme, but this particular clock has "Dutch Striking" on 2 bells and an alarum. The striking train is behind the going train. The alarum wheel can be seen at the top in the front of the movement. It was chain driven with Huygens' endless system, and would have had brass shelled weights.
The movement of this clock is in more or less sound 7condition, although dirty and with some surface corrosion. It has been clumsily converted to anchor escapement. If it had been done expertly, I would probably have left it as part of the clock's history, but it is unlikely to work well, so I will convert it back to the original verge by replacing the escape wheel and third wheel together with the verge. The pendulum is missing.
At the time of writing, the movement has been dismantled and cleaned twice. The next stage is to remove the verdigris and rust, then it can be cleaned properly and polished.
Work on this clock is necessarily slow, as it has to be fitted around more profitable enterprises! However, I have now made some progress on retoring the lead castings.
Copyright (c) 2006 Ian Coote. All rights reserved.