4.01 – Site and Ownership

Last Update: 07-25-2022 @ 02:49

4.01 – Site and Ownership

The general location of a clock in this taxonomy is called SITE. There are two main categories of sites: outdoor and indoor. Also, I introduce the notion of DOMAINpublic and private. A clock is public when located on a site owned by public funds. A clock is private if located in or outside a privately owned house or business. In the following, we will consider external and interior clocks, whether public or private.

4.01.1 – Outdoor Clocks: Public or Private Domain

The only way to collect large outdoor clocks, public or private, is to photograph them. You can spot them as you travel and create an exciting album of outdoor clocks. Here is the list of outdoor clock types.

Clocks Visible at a Distance

Street Level Clocks

Park and Garden Clocks

4.01.2 – Indoor Clocks: Private or Public Domain

Most of the indoor clocks in the following popups are private clocks. Throughout their lives, they have been part of furniture accessories in a kitchen, a dining room, a living room, a family room or parlor, a playroom, a hallway, an adult or children’s bedroom, a personal office, etc. A collector usually doesn’t know the exact location unless he obtained the information from a previous owner. Thus, one can only infer that a clock was part of a particular room of the house, often derived from the type of clock in question.

Five Major Types of Indoor Clocks

Generally speaking, there are five major categories of indoor clocks depending on their placement in space. Some are hybrid because of their architecture. Indeed, they may be installed on a piece of furniture, a shelf, or hung on a wall.

Next: 4.02 – Propulsion Modes

Home » 4.00 – Taxonomy of Clocks » 4.01 – Site and Ownership
1.01 – SITE AND OWNERSHIP - Outdoor - Clocks Visible at a Distance - Astronomical
Prague Town Hall Astronomical Clock
Image by Abhijeet Rane authorized under Common Creative CC BY 2.0 license

Astronomical clocks appeared towards the end of the 14th century. They were public, indoor, and outdoor clocks located in cathedrals, churches, and public buildings. A few of these still exist. One can be seen at the Town Hall of Prague, probably the most famous. The clock, built in 1410 and renovated in 1979, gives the local hour, the sideral hour, the calendar and zodiac sign, the moon’s phase, and the sun’s position. For more information, click on Wikipedia.

1.01 – SITE AND OWNERSHIP - Outdoor - Clocks Visible at a Distance - Turret or Tower Clock
Turrett movement of Salisbury Cathedral
Image by edtenny authorized under Common Creative Public Domain Mark 1.0

Illustrated, this clock movement, built from steel, exposes a device, like hands and a bell, allowing as many people as possible to see or hear the time. These movements are usually installed in so-called public clocks of church steeples, large government building towers, etc. In terms of vocabulary, we call these turret or tower clocks. Wikipedia has an excellent account of the history of turrets and pictures of significant historical turrets. Illustrated is the turret of the Salisbury Cathedral in England, the World’s oldest working clock.


Ottawa Tower Clock
Image: All rights reserved, Bordloub

The tower clock, also named turret, was trendy in the 18th century until the first half of the 19th century. Churches, town halls, and parliament buildings had one. The most famous is undoubtedly the Tower of London. But the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa, Ontario, does not give its place. This tower has been named the Peace Tower. For more details on that one, click Wikipedia.

1.01 – SITE AND OWNERSHIP - Outdoor - Clocks Visible at a Distance - Time Ball
Royal Greenwich Observatory Time-ball
Image by string_bass_dave authorized under Common Creative CC BY-SA 2.0 license

The Time ball is another way to give time remotely, like this one on the roof of the Royal Greenwich Observatory. “A time ball is a large ball that can slide along a vertical mast, which is dropped at predetermined times to indicate the time in a public way. The time balls are therefore placed high enough to be visible from a distance: usually at the top of a tower or sometimes a lighthouse. They are usually made of painted wood or metal. The masts bearing the time balls are often topped with a weathervane and a directional cross indicating the four cardinal points.(Wikipedia)

1.01 – SITE AND OWNERSHIP - Outdoor - Clocks Visible at a Distance - Wall Building Clock
Wall Building Clock
Image of Cathedral of St. Peter, Trier, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany by Dietmar Rabich via Wikimedia Commons, published under Creative Commons CC BY-SA 4.0 International license.

Any clock built or hung on a building wall will fall in this category. For example, this is the wall clock of the St. Peter Cathedral in Trier, on the Moselle River banks, Germany. 

1.01 – SITE AND OWNERSHIP - Outdoor - Street Clocks – Post Clock
Post clock on a street
Image: All rights reserved, Bordloub

Post street clocks are still popular. Nowadays, they are electrified, and their movements are quartz-based. Some are solar panel based.

1.01 – SITE AND OWNERSHIP - Outdoor - Street Clocks - Trade Sign Clock
Street Commercial Clock
Image: All rights reserved, Bordloub

A trade sign clock combines the time with a trade sign, like this clock of a “Peterbrooke chocolatier” in Winter Park, Florida. It’s a square sign attached to the corner of the building with four clocks where one can see the time from all sides.

1.01 – SITE AND OWNERSHIP - Outdoor - Street Clocks – Vertical or Wall Sundial
Vertica Sundial
Image: All rights reserved, Bordloub

When attached to a wall, a sundial is called a vertical sundial or wall sundial. Illustrated is an example from the Canadian Museum of Clocks in Deep River, Ontario.


Image: All rights reserved, Bordloub
1.01 – SITE AND OWNERSHIP - Outdoor - Park or Garden Clocks - Horizontal Sundial
Horizontal Sundial
Horizontal sundial in the Front Garden of The Canadian Clock Museum, Deep River, Ontario. Image: All rights reserved, Bordloub

This Horizontal Sundial in the Front Garden of the Canadian Clock Museum gives the time using the shadow of a person standing on the actual month plate. In the example, she stands on August, and her shadow indicates that it is approximately 15:50 h.

1.01 – SITE AND OWNERSHIP - Outdoor - Park or Garden Clocks – Strut or Stand Sundial
Strut Sundial
Image: All rights reserved, Bordloub

The illustrated San Diego Zoo sundial sits on a stand or a strut near the soil so it can be angled to produce the best shadow. That type is a Strut or Stand Sundial.

1.01 – SITE AND OWNERSHIP - Outdoor - Park or Garden Clocks – Pedestal Sundial
Stand Sundial
Image by Jeff Buck /of the Sundial at St Oswald’s Church, Backford, UK, via Wikimedia Commons published under Creative Commons CC-By-SA 2.0 license.

The illustrated sundial from St Oswald’s Church, Backford, Cheshire, England sits on a pedestal, thus it is called a Pedestal Sundial.

1.01 – SITE AND OWNERSHIP - Outdoor - Park or Garden Clocks – Sundial Vase

The sundial is an ancient mode of marking time. But it is still popular as a decoration accessory in a garden. Here is a beautiful sundial vase exposed in the Canadian Clock Museum‘s front garden. The gnomon (shadow caster) in the center of the vase projects a shadow on the graduated part of the vase to give the time. There are several types of sundials. See Wikipedia.

(Image: All rights reserved, Bordloub)

1.01 – SITE AND OWNERSHIP - Outdoor - Park or Garden Clocks – Armillary Sphere Sundial
Armillary Sundial
Image by Jim Evans published under Creative Commons Attribution CC-by-SA 4.0 International via Wikimedia Commons

As described by the author of this photo: “This 6′ Armillary Sphere is on the San Jacinto Battleground site. It features the names of the nine fallen Texian soldiers engraved on the sundial’s base. According to the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site an armillary sphere was a tool used by ancient astronomers and navigators. It depicts the parts of the celestial sphere, in addition to telling time. The rings represent the equator, meridian and equinox. If you go there, take note of the engraved zodiac signs!”

1.01 – SITE AND OWNERSHIP - Outdoor - Park or Garden Clocks - Floral

A floral clock consists of a flower garden representing a clock dial found in a park, a garden, or a public place. The first worldwide garden floral clock was installed in the Princess Street Gardens in Edinburgh in 1903. It had a diameter of twelve feet (4.8 m.).
The garden clock of the City of Kyiv, illustrated, is known as the largest one in Europe. The James Ritchie and Son Company of Edinburgh, founded in 1809 and still in existence, designed it and provided the movement since it was a gift from the City of Edinburgh.

(Image by Ansosmia authorized under Common Creative CC BY 2.0)

1.01 – SITE AND OWNERSHIP - Indoor Clocks - Floor Clocks

A large, medium, or small clock made to sit on the floor is called a floor clock. An English clockmaker, William Clement, was probably the first to build such a clock in 1670. A relatively narrow high case contained the weight and the pendulum, 78 to 98 in. (2 to 2,5 m.). Subsequently, the cases expanded and became almost monumental. They were called “Hall Clocks.” In England, the floor clocks were called “Tall-case Floor Clock” or “Long-case Clock.” In the United States, they were named “Grandfather” or “Grandmother” and even “Granddaughter,” depending on whether the clock height was tall, medium, or small. In France, the Comtoises are on the floor. In Sweden, it’s the Mora, in Denmark, the Bornholm, in Holland, the Staartklok. Note that most floor clocks are weight clocks, but some are spring driven.


1.01 – SITE AND OWNERSHIP - Floor Clocks - Hall
An Arthur Pequegnat Vernon Hall Clock
Image ID166: All rights reserved, Bordloub

The hall clock is usually a floor clock, wider and sometimes taller than a Grandfather clock. An example is “The Arthur Pequegnat Clock Co., Canada,” model Vernon, part of its “Hall Clock” series. Made in 1913 in Berlin, Ontario, now Kitchener, it is solid oak, and the two windows of the door are encrusted in their edges. The needles and numbers are in solid brass. The chains are rack and pinion type. The movement is two-spring and rings half an hour and hours on a spiral gong. This clock was part of furnishing the rectory of St-Patrice church in Rivière-du-Loup, 200 km North-East of Quebec City, on the Lower St. Lawrence River. It is now in the hall of my apartment.

1.01 – SITE AND OWNERSHIP - Floor Clocks - Long or Tall Case or Grandfather
A Grandfather clock
Image ID062: All rights reserved, Bordloub

It appears that the name “Grandfather Clock” comes from a song composed by an American, Henry Clay Work, entitled “My Grandfather’s Clock” (1876), inspired by the story of a longcase clock at the George Hotel in Piercebridge, England, where he had stayed.  When its first owner died, the clock stopped holding the time properly. When the second one died, it stopped working. The name Grandfather must be given only to tall floor clocks. The English communities outside the U. S. A. prefer the name “Long-case or Tall-Case Clock.” Illustrated, a Howard Miller grandfather from the 1990s, with Westminster chimes and lunar phases. Note the gridiron lyre-shaped pendulum. To rewind the clock, one has to pull on its three chains. 

1.01 – SITE AND OWNERSHIP - Floor Clocks - Mid -size or Grandmother
A China made Grandmother clock
Image CP: All rights reserved, Bordloub

A floor clock less than two meters (6 feet) high is called a Mid-Size Floor Clock, also called the “Grandmother” clock in the United States. The name “Grandmother Clock” refers to the “Grandfather Clock.” Since women in the 19th century were generally smaller than men, the smaller floor clock took that name. Illustrated: a mid-size Chinese clock from an amateur horologist friend.

1.01 – SITE AND OWNERSHIP - Floor Clocks - Shortcase or Grandaughter
A Granddaughter clock
Image ID159: All rights reserved, Bordloub

Illustrated, a 1910s Sessions clock about a meter (39 in.) high that follows the style of grandfather or grandmother clocks. Some also call them “Granddaughter clocks.” Its movement is the same as the movements found in mantle or tablet clocks. It is a spring-loaded movement with a Bim-Bam chime. The case is made from softwood, probably pine. The door on the front is not of much use since the inside of the case is hollow. This clock was probably in a children’s room.

1.01 – SITE AND OWNERSHIP - Indoor Clocks - Shelf (or Furniture)

As the name suggests, the shelf clock is a clock placed on a shelf and usually hung on the wall. In this category, one can bring in the original English Bracket clock, which ended up on a piece of furniture. The same for the American Kitchen clock in pressed oak with its tablet hung on the wall. It ended up on a piece of furniture for lack of a shelf. Finally, the Swiss clock Neuchâteloise is usually sold with a shelf to lay on a wall. Without it, it becomes a furniture clock. So, we can say that all of those shelf clocks are hybrid. They can be put on a shelf, tablet, or on furniture.

1.01 – SITE AND OWNERSHIP - Indoor Clocks - Wall
An Arthur Pequegnat school wall clock
Image ID156: All rights reserved, Bordloub
A Germand made movement for a Forestville Canada clock
Image ID036: All rights reserved, Bordloub

Any clock hanging on a wall without a shelf is called a wall clock. The length, shape of the case, or size don’t matter. Wall clocks can be weight or spring driven. On the left is an Arthur Pequegnat school clock, Preston model, from 1925, and on the right, an art-deco style from the 1970s made in Germany for the Canadian Forestville Company.

1.01 – SITE AND OWNERSHIP - Indoor Clocks Furniture

Any clock placed on a piece of furniture like a credenza, a dresser, a buffet, a bookcase, a work desk, a mantelpiece, etc., is called a “Furniture Clock.” Some authors prefer the expression “Table clock” for this category, but it’s time to revise that. Since the table is a piece of furniture, the term is too narrow to comprehend all the clocks in that category.

The furniture category includes sub-categories depending on the type of furniture on which the clock is situated: mantel, bracket, desk, etc. Note that the Boudoir clock, named after a room in a castle or a “bourgeois” house, is generally a furniture clock since it is placed on a small table or credenza.

1.01 – SITE AND OWNERSHIP - Outdoor Furniture Clocks - Desk
A LUX desk clock from the 1920s
Image ID111: All rights reserved, Bordloub

As the name suggests, the desk clock lands on a desk, generally a work desk, whether at home or the workplace. It is usually a small or medium size clock that gives only time, like this 30-hour Lux, brass antique finish, from the 1920s.

1.01 – SITE AND OWNERSHIP - Indoor Furniture Clocks - Bedside
An Art-deco Big Ben Westclox
Image ID019: All rights reserved, Bordloub
A Baby Ben De luxe Westclox
Image ID105: All rights reserved, Bordloub

The bedside clock is small or medium-sized, usually with a wake-up mechanism, placed on a bedside table in a bedroom. Here are two examples: To the left, an Art Deco Westclox Big Ben from the 1930s, and to the right, a Westclox Baby Ben De Luxe Style 1 produced between 1912 and 1930.

1.01 – SITE AND OWNERSHIP - Indoor Furniture Clocks - Boudoir
A Waterbury boudoir clock
Image ID123: All rights reserved, Bordloub

The boudoir in the 19th century was a small room adjoining a woman’s bedroom, where she could retire. There were also male boudoirs. Thus, clocks appeared in boudoirs around the 1860s, both in England and in France. A boudoir clock is therefore placed prominently on a piece of boudoir furniture. Sometimes the boudoir clock had an alarm, but this is not a feature of the illustrated one: a small Waterbury clock in gold spelter from the late 19th century. Note the small hand for the seconds.

1.01 – SITE AND OWNERSHIP - Indoor Furniture Clocks - Bracket Clock
Bracket Clock by F. W. Elliott of Croydon
Image ID049: All rights reserved, Bordloub
A Robert Higgs English Bracket Clock
Image by bortescristian authorized under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 2.0 license

The English were probably the first to place a clock on a tablet hanging on the wall. That’s why they called it “Bracket clock.” Represented a 1735 Robert Higgs bracket from the collection of the Geffrye Museum in London, England. They no longer hang on the wall or a shelf, but they have a characteristic shape that is easy to recognize, like the one on the right, an English F. W. Elliott of Croydon bracket of the 1970s with a top handle to move it quickly. Because of their recognizable shape, the Brackets have become a sub-category of furniture clocks. 

1.01 – SITE AND OWNERSHIP - Indoor Furniture Clocks - Mantle
A black mantel Adamantine finish clock
Image ID211: All rights reserved, Bordloub

The name “Mantle Clock” comes from the United States. Indeed, the fashion in the 19th and early 20th centuries was to place clocks on a fireplace mantle. It was perceived as a symbol of financial ease. Here is a Gilbert from the early 20th century with an Adamantine™ finish with gold spelter decorations.

1.01 – SITE AND OWNERSHIP - Indoor Furniture Clocks - Cabinet
A cabinet clock made by Fleet, a before World War II Montreal Company.
Image ID010: All rights reserved, Bordloub

We will reserve the name “Cabinet Clock” for a trendy type after the First World War through the 1970s. The easiest way to define it is to give an example of its shape. Illustrated, a Montreal Fleet clock with three chimes equipped with an unknown English or German movement. All those boxy type clocks inspired by the art-deco style and built with a veneer wood will be considered cabinet clocks, since many times, they were placed on a sideboard, a buffet, or a cabinet, which is a piece of furniture with a flat surface on top of drawers and cupboards.

1.01 – SITE AND OWNERSHIP - Indoor Clocks - Travel or Portable
A Birks Lantern Clock made in France
Image ID032: All rights reserved, Bordloub
A Westlocx Magic Touch folding travel clock
Image ID 047: All rights reserved, Bordloub

A small clock one brings on a journey is called a “portable clock or a travel clock.” Officers of the French Army carried the first travel clocks, and later the coachmen, to allow them to drive their passengers at the said time. Here are two examples:  a copy of a carriage clock made in France for Birks (right) and my end-1960s travel Westclox (left), the “Magic Touch,” because all you had to do to stop the alarm clock ringing was to touch the top of the case.

Don`t copy text!
Verified by MonsterInsights