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French Antique Clocks

Updated on January 18, 2013
French Antique Clock
French Antique Clock

French Antique Clocks as Ornaments

Seth Thomas may have been the very first clock maker who introduced the mantel or shelf clocks in the United States after he acquired Eli Terry’s clock company and moved to Plymouth Hollow but the concept has already been known by French. In fact, the origin of French antique clocks was never traced down to any other country and said to have came into its own way back in the 17th century. The very first hit on this clock was produced for by King Louis the Fourteenth’s Palace of Versailles. All French antique clocks at the time were ornamental and covered in ormolu or gilt bronze, making them all the more opulent than they already were.

There were basically two types of French antique clocks at the time, the boulle and the religieuse. The difference was in the materials their casings were made and inlaid with. Boulle French clocks were cased with tortoiseshell and inlaid with porcelain, brass, pewter, and ivory. Religieuse French clocks were cased in oak with ebony finishing covered with brass and pewter.

Through the years, French antique clocks were continuously bettered. In fact, in 1715 to 1723 or the Regency Period, the clock making industry of France brought back the bracket clocks of the 16th century to mate with the newer concepts of King Louis the Fourteenth’s opulence clocks. French antique clocks categorized under the name bracket clocks are known to be the most practical although were still lavishly designed and ornamented. They can either be hung on the wall or placed on a table or shelf.

Changes in French clock designs and styles never ended, which is the reason of the many elegant and elaborated French antique clocks in these days. By 1774 to 1791, highly accurate regulators had already become available in the clock making industry of France, as well as the exposed mechanisms and movements that were protected by glass domes. It was during this era that cartel clocks were also produced in the clock making industry. Cartel is the French for frame, so these clocks are simply incased in cast bronze or gold leaf on wood types of frames.

All French antique clocks traced back to those times have white dials and Roman numerals in a gilt garland and figurines surroundings. These clocks never went out of style even after Frederick Japy’s Japy Freres led the French market in making those kinds of clocks.

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