Clock bronze cleaning mercury gilding

Just over 200 years ago...

Even without our modern-day methods, bronze craftsmen still brilliantly managed to design complex clock architecture using highly technical production processes, as you can clearly see with this clock.

On first glance, you may think that this clock is made from a single block, or just a few pieces.

To ensure a quality restoration, when cleaning the gilt, we always completely disassemble the object.



The rectangular base

The rectangular base is composed of three parts and fixed by six threaded rods, tightened by a nut.
This attachment system allows the two ends to be joined together without there being any gaps.

You will note that they are the original rods and nuts.

The central part of the rectangular base is composed of four parts: this was a less common production method which was only used for approx. 10% of clocks; in general, the rectangular base forms a single block.


Until the first half of the 19th century, the figurines were made in several parts to enhance the quality of the sculptures, to provide for a much more realistic rendering, and to save on base materials; this technique allowed them to obtain a perfect result.

The figure can initially be disassembled into two parts; the nut is located beneath the clothing hidden by the top of the legs.

Inside the upper half of the figurine, there are three nuts that maintain the wings and the right arm in place.
You can imagine the patience and time it takes us to dismantle and then put back together such a piece.

Generally, to facilitate assembly, the different parts are fitted with pivots to ensure they are positioned correctly and do not move.

At first glance, the figurine only appeared to be a single piece, but it is actually composed of six parts.


By completely disassembling the clock, we will now be able to correct the strings on this lyre, which no longer produced any sound.


The dial is embedded inside this bronze bezel; it is fixed by three screws. The enamel dial is placed on a smooth plate; the dial will later be fixed onto the movement.

Before / after

Before / after.  Each part – every nook and cranny – is carefully cleaned, until a clean and perfectly homogeneous surface is obtained. It is during this stage that we can ascertain whether the gild is in a good state of conservation, and we can see the contrast between the matt and shiny surfaces.

You can see that the end result, after it has been cleaned using traditional techniques, reveals all the beauty and the nobility of mercury-gilded bronze.

This article was written to promote awareness of how lucky we all are today to have this unique heritage thanks to the ingenuity and the incomparable know-how possessed by our craftsmen.


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