Grandfather Clocks

What does Grandfather clock mean?

The term Grandfather Clock was attributed to a song by Henry Clay Work in 1875.  Grandfather clocks typically refer to tall case clocks or clocks that stand on the floor.  The difference between a “grandmother” and “grandfather” clock is totally subjective.  In other words, it is up to you if you call a floor clock a grandmother or grandfather clock but typically a grandmother clock is approximately 5′ tall or shorter and a grandfather clock is approximately 6 ½’ and up.

Some History of Grandfather Clocks

There were clock movements from the 18th century France that were made and could be hung on the wall that were weight driven and would run between windings as long as the weights were allowed to drop.  Many times these clocks were put in a case made by a local artisan partly because it was not particle to move the case where it was much easier to transport the movement alone.  These cases were made where the height might be limited only by the ceiling height of the owners home and availability of a way to reach the winding arbors.

Germany produced quite a few tall case or grandfather clocks from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  A significant number were time and strike or two train movements and didn’t play a tune at each quarter hour.  They only struck on the half hour and/or at the top of the hour.

Modern Grandfather Clocks

I term modern grandfather clocks as being produced from the mid 20th century through today.  They are typically made by furniture or cabinet companies that purchased German movements to put in the case.  Early in this era there were a half dozen or so movement manufacturers.  That number has been dwindling in recent years.  While some of those companies did some things better than others they all shared some common traits.  They all had determined it was not a good business model to make clock movements that last 100 years.  There construction, features and designs are all similar.

Click here to learn more about shared features of modern grandfather clock movements