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The Old Grandfather Clock You Love Comes From The Old Oak Tree

Jan 18, 2008
If you are still enjoying your grandmother's grandfather clock, you are looking at an old oak tree cut, carved and polished to a splendid veneer that never diminished with the years. At the hands of skilled artisans who had the passion for long clocks, the hard oak yielded its hardwood to become a thing of beauty.

Why the Oak for a Grandfather Clock?

The oak tree has been immortalized in many a poem, and these lines from the poem "An Oak Tree" expresses it all:

"Your Mighty Stature Sought by All
For Matters, Thousands, Big or Small
O' You Magnificent Oak Tree."


Ever since the Middle Ages, the oak has been valued for its hardness. This toughness repels bugs and fungal infestation because the tree is loaded with tannin. The beauty of its grain markings when it is sawn into quarters also makes it the most sought after hardwood for wall paneling and stately furniture. It is no wonder that a grandfather clock of great prize was made from the hardy oak tree.

One of the remaining old buildings with oak panels for ceilings is the celebrated 1857 Old Main building of Knox College. The Old Main building is a national landmark and a testament to the tireless efforts of Janet Greig Prost, the first female trustee of the board. Prost worked hard at her campaign to raise funds for the restoration of the building. She was able to raise the needed funds in 1932.

Such dedication to the preservation of a national landmark is equaled by everyone who owns an antique grandfather clock fashioned from the sturdy oak. With proper care and maintenance, this clock will go on, ticking and chiming at the appointed hour through the years, from one generation to the next.

The Long Case Clocks

The long case clock was so called because it stood 6 to 8 feet tall. It was not called a grandfather clock at this time. Instead, it earned the macabre nickname of 'coffin' clocks. The simple long case clock took various styles to cater to the different whims and tastes and took on the elaborate carved ornamentation.

The tall clocks at this time were made for royalty and nobility; hence, the workmanship was excellent. Soon these clocks became a fixture in most homes. But few have survived with the years as antiques go. A clock made by pioneering artisans the likes of Tompion and Nibb can fetch $500,000.

A clock also famous for its elaborate details is the tall clock attributed to Alexandre-Jean Oppenordt. He was cabinet-maker to King Louis XIV. The beautiful clock was fashioned from oak and walnut, embellished with enameled metal, glass, and gilt bronze mounts.

Before work on an exquisite clock starts, the blueprint is created - from designs to measurements. The clock is made from ready-cut panels of the oak tree and is hand-carved. The exquisite carvings on the bonnet and piedmont are carefully created using chisel, clamps, mallets, and knives. It is always a labor of love to create those beautiful tall clocks.

Usually the skill was handed down from father to son, and apprentices learned the craft through hardwork and persistence. As more artisans engaged in the trade, there was a growing demand for more carvers. Apprentices were trained to meet the exacting standards in the handling of the oak panels to the mechanisms that made the clock work.

Your Beloved Clock

The eloquence of your old grandfather clock will continue to enthrall you, and the spirit of the old oak tree will live into the next generation. If you are interested to know more about this type of tall clock, you can always get the information from books and from online sources. Perhaps you'd like to make your own grandfather clock from the reliable old oak tree?
About the Author
A grandfather clock is everybody's prized possession. Today's floor clocks like the Howard Miller grandfather clock are made in the same classical tradition with modern innovations. Visit www.GrandfatherClockMarket.com today to get one that will suit your style and budget.
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