As the name suggests, this type of grandfather clock originated in Bornholm, which is a Danish island in the Baltic Sea. The island is situated south of Sweden, east of Denmark and north of Poland.
The production of clocks began in 1745 and lasted till 1900. These are basically Danish longcase clocks with a delicate crown, often square-shaped with a tiny window on both sides. The windows allowed one to see the working of the clock from the inside.
Interestingly, before the creation of these unique clocks, Bornholm Island had no reputation for clock-making. Its production only began when a Dutch ship that was traveling from England changed its course to the Ronne coasts. Ronne is a town on Bornholm Island, and among all other towns found on this island, Ronne is the largest of them all. Surprisingly, the ship contained five longcase or grandfather clocks in its cargo. This incident took place in 1744.
Since clocks were a rare commodity but were considered to be extremely vital back then, the sailors decided to save those clocks, and so they transported them to Paul Ottesen Arboe in
Ronne. He, along with his local craftsmen, went on to repair the clocks and tried to restore the English longcase clocks. However, most of these craftsmen were turners, and they didn’t really know anything about grandfather clocks.
As a result of their lack of knowledge, they had to study the mechanisms of longcase clocks before they could actually begin repairing them. So, these determined craftsmen took their time to study the clock, during which they learned all about its internal mechanisms and fully understood the structure of these longcase enclosures. What’s great about this whole learning process is that these craftsmen ended up learning so much about these clocks that they were all set to create their own version of the longcase or grandfather clock. Eventually, they did produce their own clock, which is how the Bornholm clock came into existence.
The Bornholm clock consists of lead weights, and each of them weighs almost 8 pounds. The main body of the clock is divided into three key sections: head, foot, and case. All these sections have straight sides, but the foot often has rounded corners coupled with a four-sided molding. The face of the clock is made of brass or iron, and it is usually adorned towards the corner, which is often made of lead. The ornamentation includes Roman numerals on tin with pierced brass hands that look absolutely beautiful. The top of the face has a little round tin placed with a five-pointed crown. This crown contains the clockmaker’s name along with the year in which the clock was manufactured.
The case of the Bornholm clock, on the other hand, was usually painted with biblical motifs and sometimes had an imitation of a Chinese lakarbejde. Other variations of this clock from those times also had large bowed gesims on the case.
This is a type of Bornholm clock that was produced in the 1800s and eventually faced a steep decline in the 1900s. The Empire Clock consists of a white face made of iron, coupled with black-colored numbers and simple brass hands. The backside of the face often has the clockmaker’s name or initials painted in ink.
The body of the Empire clock also consists of three pieces: the foot, case, and head. The head has a round window with even sides. The window often has a row of pearls or a carved laurel wreath below it. The foot, on the other hand, consists of angled sides while the corners of the case have a carved drape with capitals and a column base toward the corners.
The Empire clock is also called a ‘Han’ or He, and its counterpart clock is called a ‘Hun’ or She, which has bowed-out sides and was created somewhere during the 1830s.