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"The Master Clockmaker" Joseph Ives of Connecticut

By Lockwood Barr

Hobbies - The Magazine for Collectors, January, 1939

30 Day Wagon Spring Clocks

      Atkings, Whiting & Co., (1850-54) and the successor, Atkins Clock Mfg. Co. (1853-58) made an improved type of wagon spring clock that would run thirty days with one winding. These clocks were amoung the finest ever made - and apparently very few of them were made - in fact, only fifteen or twenty of them now exist.

      The small brass movement of these 30-day clocks had no strike train, being two separate time trains geared together. They were enclosed in two pierced rings of brass. There were roller pinions throughout the movement. Some few had rollers on the ends of the verge, while others had what is known as the "Squirrel cage" escape being two rings or collars which held in place the steel roller pinions. The pressures built up by the heavy multi=leaf flat steel wagon spring were very great. To take the pressure off the movement there was a heavy iron base to which was bolted, through its middle, the wagon spring - the ends being free. One end of the spring drove one time train, the other end of the spring the other time train, the two trains being geared together by one central wheel. Two cast iron frames were bolted to the base and the brass movement rested on top. Between the two cast iron frames were carried the levers, cams, links, and drums which compounded and equalized the pressures created by the wagon srping. These clocks had 9 1/2 inch pendulums and the pendulum rod was always made of an oval pine stick, which did not contract and expand with the weather, and changes of temperature, and therefore was more accurate.

      It is strange that of the existing known specimens of the 30-day clocks, only two carry labels of the makers. One of these has the Atkins, Whiting & Co. label and the other the label of the Atkins Clock Manufacturing Co.

      The 30-day clocks were usually placed in cases known as the Regulator wall clocks, the cases being circular or hexagonal around the dial with a square drop below for the pendulum. There were also a few placed in square plain mantel cases with two doors. Some were great wall clocks.

      Very few know of these rare clocks - even those collectors who have specialized in Bristol type mantel clocks, and because of their scarcity they are in great demand, which will necessarily increase as time goes on.

      In 1859, Ives secured patents on a further development of the wagon spring principle, and upon a very unique type of clock movement made of "tin plate." He made arrangements with Elisha C. Brewster to manufacture under his patents of 1860.

      After Joseph Ives died in 1862, his wagon spring development passed into oblivion and no effort was made to revive it. It seems too bad that a peice of mechanism so fine and one so unique and ingenious as the wagon spring could not have survived. It was doomed to succumb, however, to competition from the domestic coiled steel spring, which soon after 1850 became dependable in quality, low in price, compact in size, and simple in operation.

Submitted by: Samuel Kirk (##)

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