E. Howard Clock Company Boston. The Model No. 89. Railroad Regulator. Fitted up on 1/7/1910 and featuring a 4 jar mercury pendulum and a minute contact. 221112

The E. Howard Clock Company claimed in their sale literature that Railroad Regulators are, as a rule, subjected to more exposure to the changes of weather than almost any other regulator in use. As a result, it is important that they be as accurate and reliable as those in service in less exposed positions. The construction of this walnut cased example is designed to have minimal effect due to changes that result in expansion, contraction and wrapping, caused by wet and dry, warm and cold weather. These changes of elements will have little effect on the model 89’s time-keeping ability. This model was specially designed for commercial applications and was used extensively by jewelers, watchmakers and train dispatchers. It was advertised by the E. Howard firm as ."… the best regulator value on the market" selling for $75.00 in and about 1900.

This model was first introduced in January of 1888 when 68 clocks were ordered by the Erie Railroad. These clocks were to be set up in the stations that were on their their rail line that included the New York Line, the Erie, PA Line and the Western Railroad Line. At first, they were referred to as "Erie Regulators." The name changed in July of 1888 when they were referred to as the "No. 89."

The model 89’s ability to keep very good time was tested in August of 1889. Ten regulators were tested and observed. These were located on the following railroad line that included the Buffalo, B. & S. W., the Niagara Falls division of the New York Line, the Lake Erie Line and the Western Railroads. These ten clocks had an average variation from the mean of only 8.9 seconds over the period of one months time. The greatest variation was measured at 24 seconds. A clock located in the Wabash Station in Moberly, Missouri ran 18 days right on time and 30 days with only three seconds of variation. A clock at the Union Depot in Cleveland, Ohio ran 16 weeks with an extreme variation of only 3 seconds in any one week. As a result, this model has developed a reputation of being a very sound time keeper.

This is a very good and an usual example. The case is constructed in walnut. (The vast majority of model 89’s were constructed in oak.) The recent refinishing of the case promotes and features the grain of the wood. The design of the case incorporates a number of decorative details in its construction. Some examples of these details are the long reeded moldings that frame the door and turned finials located at the top and bottom of the case. The large door, located on the front of the case, is fitted with a large piece of clear glass. Through this door, one can view the painted 12 inch diameter zinc dial which is signed by the Maker in block lettering. The time ring is formatted with Roman style hour numerals and a subsidiary seconds dial. The area inside the seconds ring is cut out so one can view part of the brass made mechanism. This dial traditionally would have been trimmed with a thin walnut bezel or ring which is now missing. The dial mounts directly to the movement with four screws that thread into four brass dial feet that are attached to the front plate of the works. This design does not allow it to come in contact with the case. The pendulum fitted to this example is designed to compensate for changes in temperature. Pendulums like this could be special ordered at an additional cost. In this case, the compensating pendulum cost as much as the standard version of this clock. The steel rod hangs in front of the mechanism. The brass frame at the bottom supports four steel jars. These are seal and contain enough liquid mercury to compensate for the change in length of the steel rod as effected by temperature. With out compensation, the rate will changed based on variations in temperature. As the temperature increase, the rod expands or lengthens, The opposite is true. This pendulum is stamped with number "456." To my knowledge, this is currently the highest number recorded in the available E. Howard records. It is also stamped with the date of 1-7-1910 which is most likely the date of manufacture. Mercury Pendulums like this one sold for an additional $75.

The weight driven movement is very good quality. It is framed with two large brass rectangular shaped plates. The front plate is die-stamped by the Maker in the upper left hand corner. This reads, "E. Howard & Co. / BOSTON / 1." The movement is designed to run for eight-days on a single wind. It features a Graham dead-beat escapement and maintaining power. The movement is wound with a crank key. A Geneva Stop prevents one from over winding this clock. The original cast iron weight descends directly below the movement. It is hidden from view by the wooden channel constructed inside the case. This clock is also fitted with an electrical contact. This is now intact but disconnected. Howard fitted a number of their big regulators with electric contacts. This was at an additional cost of $25.

This is a large and impressive clock. I estimate that this example originally cost $175 with the addition of the mercury pendulum and the electrical contacts. The case measures 65 inches long by 19 & 5/8 inches wide and 6 & 7/8 inches deep. It was made in 1910.


About Edward Howard of Boston, Massachusetts.

The E. Howard & Company succeeded the Howard & Davis firm in 1857. The Howard and Davis firm was comprised of Edward Howard and David P. Davis and was established in 1842. Both men served their clock apprenticeship under the guidance of Aaron Willard Jr in Boston. The Howard & Davis firm made high-grade clocks, precision balances, sewing machines, fire engines, watches. After the dissolution of Howard and Davis, Edward Howard became Boston’s leading manufacturer of weight-driven residential, commercial, and tower clocks. Howard also sold a large number of watchman and salve clock systems. These sold well in the late 1800s.

It has been said that the E. Howard Clock company never made an inexpensive clock, and everything they made was of very good quality. As a result, Howard clocks have become very collectible and are prized by their owners. Today, the E. Howard clock name enjoys outstanding name recognition.

For a more in-depth reading of Edward Howard and his various businesses, please read “Willard’s Patent Time Pieces” written by Paul Foley.


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