Henry J. Davies. An Illuminating Alarm Clock. Mantel of shelf clock.

This Illuminated Alarm Clock was made circa 1876 by Henry Davies of New York. On August 25, 1867, Henry J. & Walter D. Davies applied for a patent for their improvement in lighting attachments for alarm clocks. This is one version of one such improvement. We have seen at least four other examples of this type illuminating alarm clock. This version is more sophisticated in terms of case form and proportions.

This fine example features a case that is constructed in walnut and retains and older surface. Many of the front surfaces are inscribed with a scroll decoration. This is nicely done and and adds to the interest of the case design. The front corners of the main body of the case are canted. Decorative turnings are positioned at the top and bottom of this corner detail. The lower decorations are in the form of stylized urns mounted up on pedestals. The urns are hollowed out and provide space for one to store additional matches. They are in effect match holders. The upper two decorations are in the form of drop finials and taper to a point. The pendulum can be accessed through a removable half round shaped door that is located in the front of the case. This is trimmed with an applied molding. The dial bezel is brass and is fitted with glass. It swings open to access the 3.5 inch diameter paper dial. This is applied to a tin pan. The dial is formatted with Roman style hour numerals and a brass alarm disk that is located in the center. The top of the case is very unusual in that it has been constructed to house an oil lamp and the lighting device mechanism. This is on display for all to see. The oil lamp is fitted into a slot on the right side of the case and is removable. A partial label from the clockmaker is pasted onto the back of the case. The clock mechanism in this example is H. J. Davies design. I have also seen examples with movements made by the Ansonia Brass & Copper Co. This example is a time and alarm design. It is constructed in brass and powered by coil springs. It will run thirty hours on a full wind. The alarm bell is located inside the case mounted to the backboard.

This very unusual clock measures 15 inches tall to the top of the lighting device and 8.25 inches wide.

In order to set this alarm one needs to perform the following procedure. It may be best to ensure the lamp is fueled and that the wick is exposed and in good order. Next, install a wooden match in the spring loaded holder. This is located in the center of the case and is in the form of a pillar. Cock or load the match to the left positioning it against the spring located on the left side of the case. This spring is fitted with sandpaper on one side. The spring is drawn out until the latch holds it in place. At this point the match should be positioned against the sand paper and locked into a ready position. One then would set the alarm from the brass disk located in the center of the dial. You would also need to wind this part of the mechanism with a key through the dial at the position of 6:45. When the alarm is tripped, it releases the latches and springs. The result is that the head of the match will draw against the sand paper on the spring as it turns to the right. The head of the match will fire as it comes into position over the oil lamp. This will illuminate the room.

This is a neat clock.

About Henry J. Davies of New York.

Henry J. Davies operated a clock related business at No. 5 Courtland Street in New York, New York in 1858 through 1886. Today, Davies is probably best known for his design of the Crystal Place mantel clock. This clock, introduced in 1874, was displayed under a glass dome. Often times, figures where mounted aside the mounted movement and usually incorporated a mirror behind the pendulum. The vast majority of these clocks were powered by Ansonia manufactured movements and where later cataloged as Ansonia clocks when Davies became the General Manager of the Brooklyn, New York plant. Davies also received several patents for his designs including one for the now very collectible illumination alarm clock. These alarm clocks were designed to mechanically strike a match which in tern lit an oil lamp mounted in the clock’s case. The result was the illuminating of the room. One then could easily make their way around the interior or perhaps read the dial of the clock. This system was to compete with the simple and safe bell alarm format.

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