I recently finished a complete restoration of a 1915 Ingraham “Vicar” black mantel clock. My customer said he remembered the clock on his grandmother’s mantel in the mid 1940’s over a coal grate. The clock was later rescued from her basement after her death. The first 2 pictures show the condition of the wood case as I received it.
The clock was missing the case back, pendulum and the decorative gold painted lead tassels on the side. One of the columns was missing and the other column was badly deteriorated. I was able to find and obtain a different Ingraham model that still had the missing tassels and pendulum. I will admit, it was a lucky find. I totally disassembled the case, sanded the wood pieces, primed the pieces and then applied several coats of high gloss black lacquer. As a protective coat to the lacquer, 2 coats of high gloss polyurethane were applied.
The red marble is several layers of different colors of paint on wood. The finish was crazed or crackled from age. I carefully sanded off the crazed clear finish and applied several coats of high gloss polyurethane.
All the lead parts (side decorations with tassels, legs and column pedestals) were cleaned with soap and water. Two coats of a metallic gold paint were then applied and once again coated with two coats of polyurethane.
The columns were the next challenge. I have successfully reproduced the look of the original columns by using wood dowels covered with a specially printed pattern on vinyl. The clock owner said he had seen custom ballpoint pens made from marble. After some research, I found that custom pens are made from square acrylic blanks with marble dust dispersed throughout. The blanks are turned in a lathe to produce the pens. I was able to obtain the blacks from an online supplier. I soon realized that my jewelers’ lathe was not large enough to turn the blanks. I have a grandfather clock customer who turns custom ballpoint pens. It took him about an hour to turn two columns for me. The great part of this experience was that he did not mind that I watched. It’s always great to watch a master working his craft.
The gold inlays and decorations around the dial were placed on the case with a round fingernail polish applicator and gold paint before the application of the polyurethane. The brass bezel was hand polished and a new two-piece wood back was made and painted to match the rest of the case. The entire clock was then reassembled. Ingraham engineered the production of their black mantel clocks to be finished with a baked high gloss enamel finish before the cases were assembled. The clock was held together with cut nails and wood screws. I used the original nails and screws to reassemble the case.
The clock movement was just a normal movement restoration that I do daily.
The clock now lives on the credenza in my customer’s office next to a bust of President Lincoln, ready to mark the minutes and hours of the next 100 years.