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A carriage clock.A carriage clock is a distinctive French-made portable, spring-driven timepiece using a platform escapement. Produced in large numbers mostly from the 1850's through the early 1920's, a few are still made today. The case is most commonly a rectangular, box-like shape made of brass and sometimes gilded, with four corner pillars, with glass, brass, or porcelain sides. The front and back are often hinged to allow access for the operator with a handle built into the top to assist in carrying, and perhaps a wooden outer-fitted box for protection during travel, often with a viewing window at the top showing the balance escapement. The enamel dials are white with plain black numerals for better low-light viewing, often stamped with the retailers’ name which may rub off if touched. These clocks often had additional features such as a strike, alarm, a calendar, and even a thermometer. Further compilations would have included a repeating mechanism with the grande sonnerie being the top of the line. The case can be rather plain or highly decorated with beveled glass panels, pierced brass, enamel fillings, cloisonné or other embellishments. Sometimes, these clocks come in an oval shape.

These clocks were never intended for use on a carriage as the English name suggests. Don’t trust the carrying handle as they have been known to break.

Carriage clocks use a platform escapement, similar to a balance wheel in a mechanical watch. Look for the metal regulating whip, its "tail" is near the top of the clock. It should be in-between a faster and slower declination, normally marked with an "F" and "S" for faster slower or "A" and "R" for advance or retard. Move the whip toward the letter you want the clock to be adjusted by, for instance moving toward the "F" or "A" makes the clock faster, toward the "S" or "R" for slower. Regulation should be done daily till the timekeeping is close enough that a minor resetting is necessary when you perform the weekly winding.

The back of a carriage clock.Repeating Strike
The time can be recalled by means of a pushbutton. This allowed one to get the time in the dead of night without having to fumble around for a candle. An hour repeater only repeats the last-passed hour, a quarter repeater will repeat the last-passed hour and quarter and a minute repeater can strike out the time to the last hour, quarter, and minute passed.

Setting the time
Usually the key for these clocks has two ends. The large side is for winding and the smaller one is used to engage the hand setting arbor. Look carefully for a directional arrow to indicate which way to turn the hands. IN MOST CASES SETTING A CLOCK OF THIS TYPE COUNTER-CLOCK WISE WILL DAMAGE THE "FIRING MECHANISM" FOR THE STRIKE. Set slowly and smoothly. If you feel a binding in the setting operation, do not use force.

Most clocks of this type run for seven days. Clocks that tell time only will have one winding arbor. If the clock has a strike or alarm feature, there will be additional winding arbors. Be sure not to mistake the hand setting shaft for a winding arbor.

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Remember to maintain your clock.
It needs to be oiled and cleaned regularly to last.

To many people, clocks are like members of their family.


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