New faces in old clock casesBy

New faces in old clock cases

There are many styles of reproduction clock faces on the market. These new clock faces are high resolution images printed on paper and mounted on what is commonly called fiber board (one brand name of fiber board is Masonite). Unlike normally accepted replacement faces, these new faces are heavily aged and distressed with an "antique" finish. All of the reproduction faces on fiberboard ACRN has seen were copied from old faces that were almost always originally on metal. The fiberboard is proof enough that the face to which it is attached is new.

The other way to catch the new faces is to simply touch them with your fingers. All the "paint chips", "cracks" and other gimmicks of the antique finish are printed. These flaws cannot be felt because, being printed, they are flat and only two dimensional. The printed faces are reproduced from photographs of original faces.

Most of the new faces are sold as shown here with no case or frame. They are made for hanging on the wall with simple battery operated clock movements in back. Offered complete with their new movements, the new faces probably wouldn't be a problem.

The biggest danger is running into the faces mounted in genuinely old cases with old wind-up works. Be particularly cautious if the case is sealed or you are not allowed to look into a case. Also be suspicious if, after opening a case, the clock face is not fairly easy to remove or appears to be fixed in place. Remember, an original clock would require periodic adjustment and the works would have to be easy to get at and work on.

Also be alert for new character and personality faces in smaller clocks. These faces are relatively easy to make by fake-it-yourselfers on home computers. They can be made in small numbers and quietly slipped into the market without causing alarm. A long wave black light will generally cause the new paper in the computer-made faces to fluoresces bright white.

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Fig. 1 New 16" face

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Fig. 2 New printed face laminated on fiberboard; 10" square, simulated hand painted decoration. Similar to authentic faces in OG style clocks.

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Fig. 3 New printed face laminated on fiber board; 16" diameter. Design taken from faces in original regulators and drop octagon cases.

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Fig. 4 New printed face laminated on fiber board. 15" high, 8" in width. Copied from authentic face in original steeple case clock.Photo courtesy Antique Week.

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Fig. 5 New Hopalong Cassidy clock face made on home computer and inserted into a generic 1950s clock. This fake sold for $500 at a recent auction in Missouri.

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Fig. 6New black character clock face made on home computer. Printed with false date of 1944. This fake sold for $300.