Conservation DistList Archives [Date] [Subject] [Author] [SEARCH]

Subject: Tall case clock

Tall case clock

From: Jim Moss <clkmkr>
Date: Monday, January 27, 2003
Jill Haley <jill.haley [at] otagomuseum__govt__nz> writes

>The management of my museum would like to display one of our
>long-case clocks and have it working. It was made by John Vise of
>Wisbech, Cambridgeshire around 1780 and has been in storage for many
>years and is not in working order. We have had two clock repairers
>in to quote the work (this is a small city with limited experts
>available), and both would, to varying degrees, repair and replace
>some parts (bearings, bushes, wheel shafts and pinions). We are now
>considering the implications of this work on the integrity of the
>object. Management are keen to have the clock working to enhance
>visitor experience, but others have preservation-related concerns.

My Response (At last a question right up my alley! ): Almost every
institution as well as its administration and support staff and
every visitor wants to have the clocks running: it lends a sense
reality and peacefulness that is otherwise difficult to achieve. I
am pleased that you are examining the consequences of that action
before you make the decision to make it functional.

Most institutions that have clocks are faced with this question and
approximately half have decided that the clock will be functional.
Most of the institutions that presently have functional clocks are
truly unaware of the repercussions of their decision or the
challenge that they face.

The short answer from my perspective as a horological conservator is
this: if there are only a few examples of your clock, then it should
not be made to function and if it is absolutely required that it
function, then a replication should be made and the replication
should be run in lieu of the original. If your clock is one of a
large production run and it is completely original or is botched up
but there are other extant examples in original condition being held
in perpetuity, then operation of your example would be reasonable.
However, in either case there are long term consequences that need
to be addressed.

There are many things to consider when making a decision about
functionality versus non-functionality: rarity, loss of historical
information, wear, replication, maintenance costs, handling, and
last but not least and by far the most important: the availability
of trained horological conservators. Based upon my life experience
and the evidence that I have observed as a result of the many
horological collection surveys that I have done, the typical local
clock repair person is not up to the task of conserving a clock or a
watch properly.

Jill, a more complete answer has been sent to you directly via
email (it is very long). Should any other
readers of the Conservation DistList care to receive the detailed
response, please send me an email privately.
Hope this is helpful,

Jim Moss
Professional Conservator of Horological Mechanisms
Private Practice
Littleton, MA, USA
Professional Associate Member, AIC
978-952-0070 Studio
Fax: clkmkr [at] tiac__net

                  Conservation DistList Instance 16:46
                 Distributed: Friday, January 31, 2003
                       Message Id: cdl-16-46-004
Received on Monday, 27 January, 2003

[Search all CoOL documents]

Timestamp: Thursday, 26-Jan-2012 15:56:52 PST
Retrieved: Thursday, 17-Oct-2019 19:40:30 GMT