This grandfather clock is destined to be here! Since it first arrived here 195 years ago, this clock has been owned by 5 generations of 3 different families! It’s been sold twice and later returned to the house both times.

Whose Clock Is It Anyway?

This lovely tall case clock originally belonged to the Johnson family (family that built this house and lived here until 1941). The clock was made in 1824 in Ireland, and we believe the Johnsons were its original owners.

The last member of the Johnson family to own the house, Dr. William Norton Johnson, had major money troubles during the 1920s and 1930s. He sold off some of his possessions to close friends to help bring in some cash.

According to an informational packet provided to former museum tour guides, Dr. Johnson sold his tall case clock to Dr. Horace James Williams, who also lived in Germantown.

When Dr. Williams passed away, his son inherited the clock. When the son passed away, he left the clock to The Upsala Foundation in memory of his father. The clock was placed in the first floor hallway, and was mentioned in museum tours.

After the museum closed to the public, the clock remained in the house with the rest of the collection while Cliveden and the National Trust for Historic Preservation debated what to do with the property. Sometime prior to the sale of the house, the entire collection was brought to Cliveden.

Cliveden was tasked with the extraordinarily tedious task of determining the origin of every single item in the collection. The items that met certain eligibility criteria were officially deaccessioned and sent to auction at the beginning of 2018.

We attended these auctions and purchased as many items as possible! One of the items we were able to purchase was this clock! So, in January 2018, the clock returned once again to Upsala.

We weren’t sure if the clock worked when we purchased it, so when we got it home, we were so pleased to find out that it does! It works perfectly! Unfortunately, it is super loud, so we never wind it.

We posted about the clock on Instagram a while back, and one of our followers pointed out some inconsistencies between the design of the case (where the pendulums are) and the hood (the wood/glass piece around the clock face). Due to the intricacy of the carvings and the type of feet, we believe the case was replaced at some point in the early 1900s. The hood appears to be original, and the design is consistent with the age of the clock.

Check out the rest of the pictures/videos below!

Show Me the Clock!

This crank is removable (read: easy to lose). We usually just leave it sitting on the clock for safe keeping! It takes a lot of winding to fully wind each of the weights.
Clock Weight Moving Grandfather Clock 320x
This is what happens when you turn the crank. When both weights gets all the way to the top, the clock is fully wound. Gravity pulls the weights down, and that makes the clock tick!
Grandfather Clock Face with Hood Door Open
This door is part of the hood of the clock. The door opens to allow the crank to be inserted for winding. The crank does not fit inside when the door is closed. The glass is dirty (oops!) but appears to be original to the clock.
Grandfather Clock Face Close
Close-up shot of grandfather clock face. The pasture scene at the top seems out of place when contrasted with the delicate florals below.
Gold Leaf Flower Detail on Grandfather Clock Face
Close-up shot of floral details on face. The design is so intricate!
Corner Flower Detail on Grandfather Clock Face
Close-up shot of the lower left corner of the clock face. The level of details it mind-blowing!
Grandfather Clock Face Closeup of Clockmaker James Gordon Ballymoney Ireland
James Gordon was the name of the clockmaker. He was located in Ballymoney, Ireland, which is approximately 33 miles northwest of Belfast. His name appears right on the face of the clock, which appears to be pretty common practice.
Hood of Grandfather Clock Removed
This piece is called the “hood” of the clock. This piece, which includes the glass door, slides right off the front. You can see here that we are missing several decorative elements along the top.
Face of Grandfather Clock Without Hood
This is what’s left when you remove the hood! It looks so bare without the hood!
Antique Grandfather Clock Gears
This is what it looks like behind the face of the clock! Turn your sound on to listen to it “tick” in the next video!
Hammer Striking Bell Antique Grandfather Clock 320x
This is what happens at the top of every hour! Crazy to think that all of these moving parts still work together properly after 195 years!
J.E. Caldwell & Co Clock Repair Note Receipt inside Antique Grandfather Clock
J.E. Caldwell & Co – Philadelphia. This appears to be a repair ticket/receipt from June 1938! Based on the timeline we know, it’s likely that Dr. Williams was the owner at the time of this repair. It is also possible that he replaced the case at this point, but we don’t know for sure.
Old Note Found inside Antique Grandfather Clock
This is the note we found inside the case of the clock. In 1948, Dr. Williams had someone determine the origin of the clock. This note also shows Dr. Williams (Jr.?) wishes that the clock be returned to Upsala in memory of his father.
Damaged Foot Piece of Antique Grandfather Clock
Close-up shot of the front right foot. Not so great… we usually keep a couch in front of it 😉 If you have a keen eye for period pieces, you’ll notice the style of the foot is inconsistent with the style of the hood.
Carved Fish Detail on Antique Grandfather Clock Case
This intricately carved fish and shell are also inconsistent with the style of the hood. These design inconsistencies support the suggestion that the case (part shown in this photo) was replaced at some point. Behind this door are the weights shown in an earlier photo.
Close-up of Carved Shell Detail on Antique Grandfather Clock Case
Close-up of another carving. Another inconsistency with the style/age of the hood.
Close-up Shot of Hood Finial Details on Antique Grandfather Clock
Close-up shot of the top part of the hood. The decorative elements in this photo appear to be consistent with the age of the clock. We believe the hood is original, and these elements support that theory.


What’s your favorite part of the clock? Let us know in the comments section below!