Lantern clocks

Brian Loomes Antique Clocks

Brian & Joy Loomes

Calf Haugh Farmhouse
Pateley Bridge, Harrogate
North Yorkshire HG3 5HW

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Winners of the 2001 BACA award for excellence under the category of specialist clock dealers, judged on 1. quality of service, 2. consistent quality of stock, 3. depth of knowledge.

Antique Clocks


Collecting Antique Clocks A Beginner's Guide to Lantern Clocks

3. Long pendulum lantern clocks with anchor escapement, from about 1680 to about 1780.

Lantern clocks began to be made with the improved, 'long' pendulum, sometimes called a 'Royal' pendulum, from about 1680, though not all lantern clocks had this and some were still made with the older types of escapement. These long pendulum lantern clocks had an anchor escapement, the same as in a longcase clock. In London in particular, which was always the major centre of lantern clock making, lantern clocks continued to be made with the verge pendulum, and here the long pendulum was never popular in this type of clock at the time of their making. Those with an anchor escapement tend to be ones which have been converted to anchor a generation or so later. The continuing preference for the verge pendulum there may have been because the short pendulum version was to some degree portable, and was certainly less tricky to set going by an inexperienced owner.

anchor escapement diagram
Click for closer view

In some provincial areas the making of lantern clock had barely begun by the late 1600s (when in London this type was approaching extinction) and longcase clocks were made there from that same time. So that clockmakers in some of these counties (Lancashire e.g.) settled for the one type of escapement, which they could use for all their weight-driven clocks, both lantern and longcase. These makers therefore made their lantern clocks with long pendulum and anchor escapement just like their longcase clocks. Clocks made originally with long pendulum are known as having 'original anchor escapement' - as opposed to clocks modified from earlier forms which are said to have been 'converted to anchor escapement'.

lantern clock of about 1680 by Richard Baker of London top plate of the Luke Cocksedge clock
Lantern clock of about 1680 by Richard Baker of London. Click for closer view. 4. Movement of the Richard Baker lantern clock, an old conversion to anchor escapement. The gap between the trains shows it was made originally as a centre verge pendulum. Click for closer view.

It may be a relief to know that lantern clocks made originally with anchor escapement, were not converted to any other form!

Lantern clocks ceased to be made in London by about 1710, other than in special forms such as Turkish Market clocks, which type were always made with verge pendulum and were rarely made anywhere other than in London, where they continued to be made until the 1780s. Naturally a Turkish Market clock dating from the mid 18th century and with 'original verge' pendulum is nowhere near as prized as a standard lantern clock of the late 17th century with original verge escapement, because the former normally retain their original escapement and the latter rarely do.

In some provincial areas too lantern clocks had ceased production by about 1710-20. In other areas such as the East Anglian counties lantern clocks were made well into the 1770s, always now keeping to the long pendulum form. The later examples often have arched dials rather than those of the traditional lantern clock shape.

This illustrated article is divided into several sections: click on each link to navigate through it.

Balance wheel clocks - made between roughly 1610 to 1660 (and a bit later).
Balance wheel clocks were all converted anciently, almost always to long pendulum (anchor escapement) but just occasionally to short pendulum (verge). Some were re-converted later still back to balance.
'Bob' pendulum lantern clocks - made between about 1660 and 1680, and sometimes later.
Bob pendulum clocks (verge) were mostly converted to long pendulum (anchor escapement). Some were re-converted later back to verge. A few retain their 'original verge' escapement.
Long pendulum lantern clocks with anchor escapement, from about 1680 to about 1780.
Long pendulum (anchor) clocks always keep their original escapement (except where converted to spring-driven clock, which are a quite separate category).
Lantern clocks converted to spring-driven mantel clocks.

Copyright © 2013 Brian Loomes

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