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Burr walnut veneer.
Rectangular brass full plate movement, pin-wheel escapement.
very good, capable of running.
This clock was intended as a facsimile of the longcase regulators in obelisk shaped cases by David Roentgen and Peter Kinzing but with additional indications which are stylistically suited to this type of clock. The dimensions of the dial, the unique hour hand mechanism, the wheelwork, the pin-wheel escapement and the pendulum are comparable to those of the clocks made by Kinzing c. 1785-1790 and usually cased by Roentgen. The subsidiary dials for the day of the week and the date with perpetual calendar have not as yet been recorded in Franklin clocks by Kinzing although Jacob Klug in Mainz, a contemporary clockmaker, made Franklin clocks with day and date dials, but not with a perpetual calendar. In this type of perpetual calendar there are mounted on the date wheel arbor a wheel with 48 teeth for the months in a four year cycle between leap years and also a lever which varies in length according to the number of days in the month. This system is to be found quite frequently in German clocks of the second half of the eighteenth century (e.g. in clocks by Weidenheimer and Klug both of Mainz, or Steib and Pfeffer, both of Würzburg and many others). Although no clocks signed by Kinzing with this system are as yet recorded it was used by Pillgrim in Kaub, Kinzing’ son in law, and also by Jean Pull, clockmaker by appointment to the Electors of Trier, both clockmakers working in the vicinity, and it must have been known to the clockmakers in Neuwied.
The hour hand mechanism, which controls the position of the small hour hand in the aperture of the large minute hand, creates a linear motion by means of a cam. The cam is connected axially to a six pronged star mounted on a plate which rotates behind the dial with the large brass minute hand to which it is fixed. Every four hours the star wheel, and with it, the cam are rotated 2 positions as they pass a pin fixed to the front plate. In turn the cam pushes 2 pins on a steel slide which is also mounted on the rotating plate and which is connected to the small blued steel hour hand in the aperture. The cam is shaped so that the slide and small hour hand can return to their starting position after 3 hours at 12 o’lock. By using 2 miniature rollers instead of pins on the slide friction could be minimised in the facsimile clock.
The dimensions of an original Kinzing pendulum were calculated in order to ascertain whether or not the expansion of the rods did in fact compensate for the temperature changes. It was found that the pendulums were of the same high quality as those used by contemporary clockmakers such as Berthoud and Lepaute.
The most unusual form of pin-wheel escapement as used by Kinzing was reconstructed precisely. The one long arm on which both pallets are fixed is mounted between the plates at the top of the movement and the escape wheel at the bottom. The escape wheel is cut from one piece of brass as is typical for Kinzing clocks with pin-wheel escapements. Usually, as in French clcosk with pin-wheel escapements, the pin wheel consists of a disc with holes drilled in it and then the pins riveted in. However, making a pin wheel from piece (similar to a crown wheel) is in no way more complicated and probably more exact.
The austere lines of the obelisk shaped case by Roentgen was innovative for the period around 1785, and precious burr walnut veneer combined with gilt brass mounts were chosen to retain this impression.
There are 14 Franklin clocks signed Roentgen & Kinzing recorded still extant as well as some unsigned ones or others signed with names of different clockmakers (e.g. Reichel in Koestritz). Although there are some other Franklin clocks made in the second half of the eighteenth century and at the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Franklin clocks made in Neuwied are the only ones to have been made in series. Between 1780 and 1785 Roentgen had become a prestigious cabinet-maker in Paris among the high society at the same time as Benjamin Franklin was staying there and enjoying popularity. Franklin was a statesman, a scientist and an inventor and was also renowned in Germany. The type of clock designed by Franklin was published in James Ferguson’ Mechanical Exercises in 1773 and this book was widely known in educated and informed circles in Europe; perhaps also to the then Count Wied. Roentgen and Kinzing most probably upgraded this type of clock, with significant refinements, for a clientele who wanted to demonstrate their awareness of Franklin and his new ideas. These Neuwied artisans transformed Franklin’ original design of a basic clock movement into a precision pendulum clock with a deadbeat escapement, a compensated pendulum, and an additional hand mechanism housed in an ultra-modern case in a classical style. However, when the Franklin clocks were ready for sale around 1785 Paris was no longer an attractive outlet for expensive goods on account of the state bankruptcy and the impending revolution. Roentgen sought new outlets in the eastern German provinces, in Denmark and in Russia. Catherine the Great became his best customer. Franklin clocks would have been exported to Russia as an example in the Palace Museum of Pawlowsk confirms. They were also popular in German principalities such as Württemberg, Sachsen-Coburg, Sachsen-Meiningen, Mecklenburg, Wintzingerode.