Smiths Enfield time and strike clock
Smiths Enfield time and strike clock

I absolutely love Art Deco clocks. They are understated, elegant, have great collector value and are timeless, of course (!).

Although we tend to throw the term around loosely Art Deco is actually derived from the phrase Arts Décoratifs which was a dominant decorative art style of the 1920s and 1930s, it’s heyday. This unique form is characterized by precise, bold geometric shapes and strong contrasting colors, used most notably in household objects, and, of course, in clock design as we see here. Style Moderne (as Art Deco was otherwise known) originated in France and was centered in Paris, just before World War I and became very popular after the Great War (World War I). Perhaps the most visible example of Art Deco architecture is the Chrysler Building in New York City in this photo taken from the Empire State Building in 2014.

Chrysler Tower
Chrysler Tower, New York City

The Art Deco style had a far reaching influence and permanency that went far beyond the 20s and 30s through to articles, objects, architecture, furniture and yes, even clocks to this very day.

This is a Smiths Enfield Art Deco style clock. The Enfield Clock company was started by two German brothers in Enfield, North London, in the early twentieth century. During the Second World War (1939-1945) they were the major UK supplier for essential aircraft clocks and instruments. After the war the company vigorously resumed clock and watch production. No doubt most homes in Britain at that time had a Smiths clock. The Smiths Clock Co. became Smiths Enfield in 1949 and the Smiths Enfield name first appeared in catalogs from 1950 onward.

Smiths Enfield
Smiths Enfield clock
Smiths Enfield shelf clock
Smiths Enfield clock on a shelf

This elegant Smiths Enfield oak case time and strike shelf clock was made somewhere between 1949 and 1955. I know little of the provenance of this particular clock suffice to say that it came from overseas where it likely spent it’s life in someone’s home prior to coming to Canada about a year or two ago. The clerk at the antique shop located in Halliburton, Ontario this past summer (2016) told me that the owner of the shop purchases the bulk of his antiques from Ireland and judging from the store contents he imports a quite a lot of antiques and a lot of clocks.

The oak cabinet is made up of veneers and solids and is well constructed. The case is in excellent condition with nary a nick or scratch; required a soap and water cleaning and a little lemon-based furniture polish to bring the shine up. The clock runs well and keeps relatively good time although it certainly requires a thorough cleaning.

Floating balances were introduced by Smiths Enfield in 1956. Since this clock has a pendulum it was manufactured during the period I mentioned above (1949 to 1955). The inverted numbers on the lower clock face, which at first look strange, are actually very common on clocks with Roman Numerals.

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Movement showing coiled gong

It has a coiled gong and a nice pleasant strike if I can get the hammer to strike the gong as it should. A trial and error approach ensuring that the hammer is above but not quite touching the gong or replacement of the hammer leather are two possible solutions.

This is one of two cottage clocks I have. By that I mean they are literally at my summer cottage, and since it remains at my cottage a cleaning will have to wait until next summer.

 

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