Antique clocks are definitely unique and classic additions to any home. But before you jump into purchasing one for your own pleasure and decorative purposes, it would be crucial that you understand the maintenance required, as caring for these types of items will call for delicate treatment. This is because antique clocks are rather sensitive instruments that may suffer when they are positioned carelessly or handled in an excessively enthusiastic way.
What are the things you need to pay attention to when it comes to caring for antique clocks?
- Clocks especially can be harmed when they are subjected to direct sunlight, dampness, or temperature extremes. Knowing the principles behind caring for antique clocks is crucial if you intend to have your particular piece last a long while. Consider where you place your clock in light of the warnings against direct heat and extreme temperature. For example, a common practice of clock owners is to keep a clock on the mantel. In fact, there are many antique clocks that are even called “mantel clocks,” such as the Bulova Allerton Antique Mantel Clock. But if your mantelpiece has a working open fire beneath, this could very well be the worst possible place to keep an antique clock! Also, keeping an antique clock in the open space will subject it to dust that can clog the moving components of the clock, so if possible, it would be wise to keep your clock inside a glass display cabinet instead of out on the mantel.
- Avoid careless or sudden, unexpected movement, as this can upset the delicate mechanisms and their operation. This tells you that if you pick an antique wall clock, like the Brookwood Wall Clock, or even a long case clock, you should screw it to the wall or onto a solid wooden mount or wall bracket, to keep it safe from sudden movements. Pendulum clocks are especially sensitive, and it would be wise to handle them with utmost care. As such, it is important to ensure that the pendulum is secured by the provided clip or a spring clamp whenever you need to move the clock. If this is not possible, you can get the pendulum out of the clock and use a piece of scrunched up or folded paper to wedge up the crutch piece which is ticking. Other detachable parts should also be considered before you move your clock, and do not simply hold it by the handles; instead, hold the clock beneath its base using both hands. For a long case clock, you need to remove both the pendulum and the weights, and separate the case hood before taking down the clock.
- Know how to wind an antique clock. If you are moving a mechanical antique clock and it is currently in motion, you will need to let it completely run down. When you wind it up, you only need to turn the key in a firm manner up to the resistance point. Ensure that you always use the right key for a specific clock, and check that the key is not rusty, warped, split, or worn. Whenever you need adjusting of the minute hand of an antique clock, be sure you turn the minute hands clockwise in a gentle manner, using just the tips of your fingers. If they jam in some way, move back the minute hand by a fraction but make sure you do not move it past the hour. If the hands are still stuck, stop tinkering with it and call a clockmaker.
- Clean antique clocks with the right tools. While you may clean the rest of the house with just about any cleaning cloth, a photographer’s soft bristle brush is the best tool to use for dusting intricate surfaces of antique clocks. Use a soft lint-free cloth for the less fragile surfaces. When cleaning your antique clocks, steer clear of metal polishes, as this can seep into the movement mechanisms and destroy the clock. If there are stubborn marks on its glass face, get a piece of cotton wool that has been dampened with a mild detergent solution, or possibly methylated spirits. Then, buff the face gently using chamois leather. If you want to clean or oil the parts, understand that it is not your role to do, and instead call for a clock specialist.
These basic tips should get you started on the road of properly owning and caring for your own antique clock. Just remember, any time you are not sure, do not hesitate to ask help from a professional clockmaker.