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, towering 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 styles.
Known in the USA primarily as a 'tallcase' or 'longcase', 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 and was inspired by the pendulum clock in the lobby that seemed to be inhabited by a ghostly grandfather spirit.
In addition to being free-standing, having a face, a hood and a pendulum, 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 dials.
Grandmother clocks rightfully derived their name from the grandfather moniker. Grandmother clocks have similar features as grandfather clocks, such as being free-standing clocks with long cases and pendulums to keep time. But 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 room 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.
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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