Antique American Clocks January 2022
Wm. Gilbert Clock Co. “Lion” with Hayden’s Lunar Dial, ca. 1891. Gilbert was the exclusive distributor of Professor Hayden’s Lunar Calendar Clock, which consisted of a standard 8-day, time-and-strike spring-driven movement with the addition of a single gear attached to the hour cannon, very much like a standard calendar hand. The gear presumably rotates once every 28 days, allowing it to track the phases of the moon, shown on the middle ring of the inner dial. The outermost ring can be rotated by hand and appears to indicate the days of the month; thus, you can set this ring such that the moon pointer also indicates the date. This ring would have to be adjusted at the start of each month, as is the case for most simple calendars. However, for some reason the date ring has only 30 days. There is an innermost dial divided into two 12-count halves, which would seem to indicate the hours, am and pm. Here’s where it gets confusing – the moon hand has two pointers at 90 degrees in each direction, which would seem to point to the hour on both sides. Because these opposing indicators rotate with the moon phase indicator, its possible that they indicate the times at which the moon rises and sets (but I’d have to think about that some more). No clear explanation is given, but a number of impossible indications were provided by the Gilbert Clock Co., as shown on page 71 of Ly, Gilbert Clocks. This calendar was furnished on several models and these clocks are seen occasionally. Here it is on an inexpensive model, the Lion. The 22-inch case is oak with a clean and polished finish; the glass is period, the paper dial with wear and staining, the hands correct. The 8-day, time-and-strike movement is stamped with the company name and is running and striking as expected; the lunar calendar hand is also advancing. This clock has the G.B. Owen patented gong mount for the cathedral gong, and a single barrel pendulum. There are unreadably dark remnants of a label on the back behind plastic. If you want to test hypotheses about what the opposing hands indicate, you’ll need to bid. I found three sales of Hayden’s Lunar Calendar clocks; one by Horton’s in 2014 for $351, and two by Schmitt’s in 2016 for $375 and $1000 (wow!). $200-$500.