When searching for your perfect standing clock, you will find a huge variety of products on the market. Premier Clocks has the Grandfather Clock Guide for buyers that do not know where to start. Here, we will explain the difference between two types of longcase clocks: grandmother clock vs grandfather clock.
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Before we jump into the features and differences of longcase clocks, it is important to understand their history.
Longcase clocks have a common history that has started with an English clockmaker called William Clement. The inventor created a long pendulum that not only could keep more accurate time but at the same time required a long case.
Originally, it was thought that only pendulums of a certain length could log a second accurately, resulting in tall, longcase clock forms. The new mechanism and the new look made the clock both more practical and more aesthetically appealing.
Nowadays, the longcase clocks are known by few familial names. Grandfather clocks are the most popular ones but also grandmother clocks come across quite often. Relatively rare, you might find granddaughter clocks.
While there are no hard-and-fast rules separating one type from another, there are a few key features that will help to tell the difference between each of these longcase family clock styles.
Known in the USA primarily as a 'tallcase clock' or 'longcase clock ', it is believed that the grandfather clock got its name in 1876 from a song by songwriter Henry Clay Work, entitled “Grandfather Clock.” The song was written after Work took a trip to George Hotel in North Yorkshire, England and was inspired by the pendulum clock in the lobby that seemed to be inhabited by a ghostly grandfather spirit after the second owner died.
A grandfather clock is a free-standing type of long clocks with a tall case. It has a clock face, a hood, a pendulum and a striking mechanism. It can feature two weights or three weights. The most popular hardwoods to craft a timepiece are mahogany and oak. Rarely, you will find clocks from walnut.
Grandfather clocks are generally distinguished by their height and are the tallest of the three styles of the longcase clock family. Most commonly, the grandfather clocks are between 6 and 7.5 feet tall but generally agreed to measure at least 6 feet 3 inches in height (192 cm).
The grandfather clock's long case features a pendulum movement with a 30 hour or 8 day mechanical chain driven or cable driven mechanism. The solid timber cases often feature very ornate and elaborate details with brass dials that by the early 1800's almost completely were replaced by painted numbers on a dial.
Grandmother clocks rightfully derived their name from the grandfather moniker. Grandmother clocks come from the same category and is a smaller version of longcase clocks. A typical grandmother clock has a freestanding case with a pendulum and a dial to keep and track time. The clocks are delicately decorated and often have a moon dial.
A grandmother clock generally measures less than 6 feet 3 inches in height which makes it a slimmer, shorter replica of the grandfather clock. Usually, grandmother clocks will be between 5 and 6 feet tall.
Grandmother clocks were designed to take up less space in a house without sacrificing the ornamental style of the longcase clock. Grandmother clocks fit more effectively into smaller homes making it an excellent choice for small rooms, halls, foyers and staircase landings.
There are three key differences between a grandfather clock and a grandmother clock: size, design and features.
The main difference between a grandfather and grandmother clock is their size. Grandmother clocks are smaller than grandfather clocks, typically standing between 5 and 6 feet tall, while grandfather clocks are taller, typically over 6 feet.
The size difference affects their overall design, as grandfather clocks often have more elaborate and detailed cases due to their larger size.
Grandmother clocks are a more recent addition to the longcase clock family. First introduced in the 1920s and 1930s, they were created as a more affordable alternative. Grandmother clocks are often designed to be more decorative than practical, and they are commonly used as accent pieces in home decor.
Grandfather Clocks, on the other hand, have a long and storied history. Grandfather clocks are often seen as a symbol of tradition and prestige, and they are prized for their beauty and craftsmanship. The glass front door on grandfather clocks allows you to see the inner workings of the clock, which is not typically found on grandmother clocks.
In terms of features, both grandmother and grandfather clocks have a pendulum and weights. But grandfather clocks often have more elaborate chimes and a longer pendulum due to their larger size.
Despite their differences, long clocks share several similarities.
Both clocks are types of longcase clocks or floor clocks, meaning they are designed to stand on the floor rather than be placed on a table, wall or shelf. They also both use a pendulum and weights to keep time, with the pendulum swinging back and forth to regulate the clock's movement.
Grandfather and grandmother clocks are highly valued as collectibles and family heirlooms. These clocks often have sentimental value and are passed down through generations, becoming treasured family possessions.
The clock style is decorative making the clocks focal points in a room. There is a range of designs and styles, from traditional to modern, and can be chosen to complement the decor of a room.
Similarly to grandmother and grandfather clocks, a granddaughter clock is also a longcase clock but a smaller version. They are typically between 4 and 5 feet talland are designed to fit into smaller spaces while still providing the elegance and charm of a longcase clock.
Like their larger counterparts, granddaughter clocks typically feature a pendulum and weights, but they often have a simpler design with fewer chimes and features. For example, many granddaughter clocks feature silver electroplated dials and painted numbers instead of an engraved face. Rarely, you will find a moon dial on a granddaughter clock.
Despite their smaller size, granddaughter clocks can still make a bold statement in any room. The simpler design provides an opportunity to match with various furniture styles. They are often crafted from high-quality wood such as cherry or oak.
In the grandmother clock vs grandfather clock debate, the height of the longcase clock is the key difference to remember. Both grandmother clocks and grandfather clocks are longcase pendulum clocks that have 8 day mechanical movements, and could be either a strike or chiming but grandmother clocks are generally smaller than grandfather clocks.
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