Grandfather clocks frequently asked questions

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about grandfather clocks often pertain to various aspects of these traditional and often cherished timepieces. Here are some common questions and answers related to grandfather clocks:

Grandfather clocks

Grandfather clocks in display

Did you just inherit a grandfather clock but you don’t know anything that precious antique heirloom? Or have you been wanting own one but still want to know more about grandfather clocks? Read on to learn important and vital facts about grandfather clocks.

What is a grandfather clock?

A grandfather clock is a freestanding, weight-driven pendulum clock. It is so called because of the pendulum held inside its tower. Grandfather clocks are also referred to as long-case, tall-case, and floor clocks.

Their unique designs and imposing scale makes grandfather clocks an elegant addition to any room or spot in your house. It is unanimously pertained to as a priced possession in any family’s home.

Grandfather clocks are characterized by a long and narrow wooden case and are typically driven by weights and chains.

How tall are grandfather clocks?

No matter what the kind or type of your grandfather clock, they typically stand between 6 to 8 feet tall. They come in classic architecture but as time passed by, different styles and designs have also emerged.

Grandfather clocks are relatives of grandmother clocks which stand 5 to 6 feet tall, and granddaughter clocks that stand about 5 feet tall, a diminutive floor clock.

How does a grandfather clock work?

Grandfather clocks keep regular time often with a chime at regular intervals, requiring the use pendulum, weights and an escapement mechanism.

This requires the pendulum to swing back and forth, which of course in consideration to the length of the pendulum. This movement causes the weight to drop at given paces making the hands move.

The cooperative movement of both the pendulum and the weights are what makes the grandfather clocks work and keep such precise time. The large timepieces of the grandfather clocks double as both a clock and a decorative furniture.

A grandfather clock typically has an 8-day movement wherein you are required to wind once a week. Older models have a 30-hour movement and needs to be wound everyday. But then again, winding a grandfather clock is a part of the fun, pride, and joy of owning one.

What are the types of grandfather clocks?

There are 2 common types of grandfather clocks:

Comtoise grandfather clock – can be distinguished by its port belly case (shows a curve tower) and uses elaborately creative French curves and intricate designs. It is also known as the Morbier or Morez clock.

Bornholk grandfather clock – named after Bonholm, (Island of the Burganians, a Danish Island). The makings of this Danish long case clock comes in a form of a tall wooden box, driven by a pendulum, was made from 1745 until 1900

The only difference between these two is the shape of their cases or towers (holds the pendulum, bob, and the suspending wire of the lock).

What is the value of antique grandfather clocks?

Grandfather clock is highly elaborate making it expensive. They were only available to the English nobility and upper class families. Grandfather clocks traveled to the American colonies in the 1600’s.

Old grandfather clocks are treasured not only for sentiments but typically for monetary value. Antique grandfather clocks have prices ranging from more or less $ 70,000. Rare grandfather clocks reach a cost of $100,000 and even more.

How to determine an original antique grandfather clock?

Antique and authentic grandfather clocks are very pricey and finding one for under $3000 is definitely unlikely. The original glass and decorative cut of the wood cabinet are important details to check in a grandfather clock before making any purchase.

The label or the original signature of the maker should be intact to ensure that you are indeed buying a classic grandfather clock.

But for those who cannot afford the real thing, there are grandfather clocks that sell around $100 (lowest price) and up. They run on batteries and do not have the look and charm of a true grandfather clock. Their timekeeping abilities fall short and their weighs and pendulums are only for a show.

How to take care of grandfather clocks?

Taking care of your grandfather clocks requires regular dusting and cleaning. However, this may not be enough; grandfather clocks need professional care that can only be provided by expert clock and watch makers.

To ensure a long life of your grandfather clocks, have them professionally cleaned, dusted, and oiled at least once in every 3 years.

Where to buy grandfather clocks?

Howard Miller and Ridgeway are among the famous and top clock vendors. Miller is however more popular and preferred than Ridgeway.

You can also find antique grandfather clocks on auctions, and of course some are listed for sale on the internet.

Where do grandfather clocks come from?

The early days of grandfather clocks dates back to 1582 when Galileo Galilei discovered that a pendulum is the perfect instrument for recording time. In 1660’s, English clock makers designed a highly accurate pendulum but it was just over 3 feet in length.

In order to keep a more precise time, a longer pendulum was used, a tall wooden covers the clockworks and was positioned upright on the floor, and thus the first floor clock was created.

How the ‘grandfather clock’ got its name?

The term grandfather clock was coined in the 1875 when an American songwriter, Henry Work, got inspired by a tall case clock he found in an old hotel in England. The hotel was owned by 2 brothers, and the story goes that when one brother died the clock began to loose time. When the second brother died, the clock stopped completely.

Has a passion for and specializes in collecting antique clocks. An enthusiast who values and seeks out timepieces from the past, which range from centuries-old tallcase clocks to more recent mid-20th-century mechanical clocks. I help ensure that these valuable artifacts continue to be appreciated and passed down through generations.