Brass Dial Longcase Clocks

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The earliest longcase clocks featured square brass dials. The dial size increased from 10” (sometimes 9” on 30 hour longcase’s) through 11”, 12” and so on, generally getting larger as the centuries went by. Traditionally longcase clock brass dials featured separate chapter rings and spandrels and a mated centre. The chapter ring was engraved deeply and then the numerals filled with black wax. The chapter ring was then silvered (and sometime the dial centre on later clocks). This contrast between the silvering and the black wax made the numerals clear and easy to read across the room. The spandrels were cast brass decorations applied to the corners of the dials. These were bought in by the clockmaker from suppliers. The arched clock dial became available around 1700 but were not widely popular until around 1720-30. The addition of the arch to the longcase clock dial gave the clockmaker scope to add a large variety of ‘optional extras’ such as moonphase, strike/silent, automata etc. Around 1770 the silvered single sheet dial appeared on longcase clocks. This was a simpler form of dial to produce, but was usually profusely engraved making it no less appealing than its predecessors.

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