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Watch & Clock Bulletin
"The First One" for December 2010
Jonathan Lee Jones’ cuckoo clock purchased from the Village Clock Shop.
Jonathan Lee Jones (OH)
I have been fascinated with cuckoo clocks since my childhood. They have an old world charm combined with novel features—from birds popping out of doors to figures dancing to music. Their structures are varied, from simple little houses to elaborate German chalets and villas. The one hanging in my living room graces and entertains me and my visitors. Its call provides the time every hour and half hour.
For years, my grandparents on both sides had cuckoo clocks. My maternal grandparents acquired theirs first as a Christmas present from my parents. I was fascinated by this traditional-style clock. After my grandmother died, it called the time in our living room. My grandmother’s handsome clock is now roughly 55 years old.
My paternal grandmother received a cuckoo clock from my aunt and uncle as a gift. The clock was shipped from Germany while my uncle was stationed there in the military. Another aunt and uncle also had a cuckoo clock.
I am fascinated by cuckoo clocks because of their calls—the bellows and whistles that imitate the familiar call of the bird.
On Saturday, March 15, 2003, I went to Waynesville, OH, to purchase a clock for myself and acquired one from the Village Clock Shop. I became acquainted with the owner of the shop, visited from time to time, and acquired two more clocks from him. My favorite is the cuckoo clock—it is a traditional design with one bird in flight atop five log trestles and five leaves, with a typical house design.
From my reading, cuckoo clocks were made and designed by Franz Ketterer in 1738 in the village of Schonwald, Germany. I am intrigued by how this maker resolved the problem of imitating the call of the cuckoo bird—as though a pipe organ had been reduced to a much smaller scale. He needed two small whistles of different lengths with bellows attached to compress air into them—and thus create the call of the cuckoo bird.
This fascination with cuckoo clocks has provided the interest to learn more about them and about clocks in general.
Steve Hall’s Seth Thomas mantel clock.
Steve Hall (IL)
My first collectible clock is an old Seth Thomas mantel clock built in the last turn of the century (circa 1910). Old faithful sits on a large bookcase in our family room, faithfully keeping the time in the last 25 years; recently, it stopped, which suggests that cleaning and perhaps a few new bushings are needed to set things right again.
Before I became interested in clocks, like most people I considered clocks just a means of calibrating my time to go to work and back home again, for leisure time and finishing up with bedtime, then starting all over again the following day.
One day while going through a trade magazine I spotted an advertisement to build a wood-geared clock, becoming in my mind the envy of the neighborhood. After I received the plans, I dived into building the wood-geared clock. Although I had no real idea how clocks worked, I had confidence I could complete the clock and spend hours watching it keep time. Completing the project, I set the wood gear clock on its stand, and then I pushed the pendulum to start the centuries of timekeeping. Alas, the clock ran for an amazing 30 seconds, never to run again. However, this was enough to whet my appetite for more clocks.
My trade at the time (sign painting) took me to places of businesses, where I spotted many collectible items for sale. One item I spotted was this old Seth Thomas mantel clock sitting up on a shelf in a run-down swap shop. The owner, seeing my interest, asked if I would consider taking the clock as partial payment. I did inflate the price of the sign, allowing me to get the clock for practically nothing. Unfortunately, the clock had been stripped of the original exterior finish, restained, and a new coat of polyurethane applied. But being inexperienced with clocks, I didn’t know, nor did I care at the time, because it was just the greatest thing I had seen to get started with my clock interests. Although the finish was changed, the clock was running, making it worth a small fortune to me.
My old faithful Seth Thomas over the years has alerted me to the current time with its loud base gong sound, and on a lazy afternoon it has shaken me from a nap caused by the soothing rhythm of the loud tic-tock. The clock will be up and running in no time to further its timekeeping enjoyment.
Left. Fred Hollister.
Right. Movement for the gallery time Jerome & Co. clock.
Fred Hollister (FL)
“The First One” article on page 222 of the April 2010 Watch & Clock Bulletin features an 18-inch Seth Thomas gallery clock.
The oak case was identical to my Jerome & Co. 18-inch gallery clock. I read Doctor Heise’s article with a great deal of interest, and I congratulate him on his successful effort to restore the “treasure.”
My first experience with the Jerome clock was in 1932 when I was about six years old. I remember it well. It hung in the back of St. Peter’s Lutheran church in Syracuse, NY. I would look over my shoulder to see what time it was because I knew what time the service would be over. I swear that sometimes I thought the clock had stopped. This went on for many years and every week my mother would take my sister and me to church.
I graduated high school, joined the Navy in early 1944, served in the South Pacific, and was discharged in 1946. I joined General Electric as an apprentice draftsman. I moved from Syracuse to Utica, then Ithaca, then to Manlius, NY, in 1970. When I moved to Ithaca, I started to attend auctions and got interested in clocks.
It was in 1971 that my cousin’s husband called me and told me he had the old oak clock that hung in the back of St. Peter’s church. He explained that it would not run and asked if I could put it in working order for him. I did so and gave the case a cleaning also. What a beautiful piece this was! Everything was in pristine condition. I returned it to him and he put it in his camp as a decoration. Several years went by and he invited his church group to his camp for a picnic after church. Someone in that group noticed the clock and at a later church meeting, it was suggested that the clock should be returned to the church. Our original church had merged several times with other Lutheran churches. Much time had passed and the clock was passed on to the merged church. Over time, the clock was not cared for properly. It needed winding, adjusting, cleaning, etc., and no one to do it. The Jerome clock was again turned over to my cousin. He had no knowledge of how to care for the clock, so he put it under his bed. It stayed there until my cousin mentioned it about 15 years later, around 2005, and offered the clock to me and I graciously accepted. It was packed and shipped to me in 2005.
The Jerome gallery clock was not the first clock I owned, but it was definitely the first clock I remembered. I never thought that after 78 years I would be the owner and become accustomed to enjoying this piece.
The manufacturer’s paper (very good condition) 6-1/2 x 3 inches states:
THE GALLERY TIME
EIGHTEEN INCH DIAL
JEROME & CO. MANUFACTURES
The movement is time only, very simple. The plates are highly decorated with all the fancy swirls of the cutting tool. What a jewel it is!