While weight-driven clocks have been in existence for more than 500 years, the tall case or floor clock owes its existence to the Dutch scientist Christian Huygens’s 1656 invention of a working pendulum clock based on a design by Galileo. Huygens’s mechanism increased timekeeping accurately to three minutes loss or gain per day. These first pendulum clocks, originally called “wags-on-the-wall”, had short pendulums and cast iron weights which dangled below the mechanism, face, and hand. The pendulum had a wide swing of about 50°.
By 1670, a longer pendulum with a smaller swing (about 10°to 15°) required that the clock mechanism be mounted as high as 7 feet from the floor. The pendulum and weights were sometimes protected with a “clock screen” set on the floor in front of the weights and pendulum. The new pendulum, along with the anchor escapement, increased precision to a few seconds’ variation in a week, and a minute hand was added to the clock.
It was a short step from the wall hung clock with clock screen to the tall, narrow case housing both clock mechanism and pendulum. This “tall case” form provided a new opportunity to express the style of the day in a cabinet piece composed of a narrow case surmounted by a bonnet to protect the mechanism and display the face.
Clock-making came to Scandinavia in the 18th century. In 1744 in Denmark, a shipwrecked cargo of clocks provided an opportunity for men of Bormholm Island to learn clock manufacturing skills by cleaning and studying the salvage. By the first half of the 19th century, the classic Bornholmerur, or Bornholm clock, with its distinctive case, was being sold throughout Scandinavia and the Baltic coast.
The Swedish Mora clock first appeared in Stockholm during the Rococo Period in the mid-eighteenth century. Bad weather and poor soil forced the farmers in the Mora area to look for ways to supplement their income. The villagers of Östnor, outside Mora, turned to a traditional home craft, the making of clocks. Each family specialized in a specific part: some made the brass clockworks, some painted the faces, while others built or painted the cases. At the height of production more than 90 families were engaged in the trade, and Mora functioned as one large clock factory. More than 1000 clocks, named for their place of origin, were produced each year and were sold throughout Scandinavia. Within 80 years, competition from Europe and America brought an end to this communal enterprise, but the curvilinear shape of the classic Mora clock is still sought after today.
At Cupboards and Roses, our clocks retain their original faces, hands and works. All the surfaces are original paint or, in rare cases, old secondary paint. When a clock is sold, our clockmaker gives it a thorough inspection and adjustment. When properly installed and leveled, they will keep accurate time, warming your home with their hourly chimes.