Bracket Clock

Bracket clock, Dutch, last quarter of the 17th century
Johannes Van Ceulen made this clock in The Hague, Holland, in collaboration with Christiaan Huygens. Huygens (1629-1693) patented the design for the first practical pendulum clock in 1657.
In common with other so-called “Hague clocks,” which were made in several Dutch cities and by other clockmakers in Huygens’ time, this Van Ceulen clock has a single spring that drives both time and strike trains, a pendulum suspended between curved “cycloidal cheeks” (designed to correct the oscillation period of the pendulum for variations in its swing’s amplitude) and an ebonized fruitwood case reminiscent of classical architecture. The pediment of the case, with its gilt floral pattern, serves not only a decorative function, but also conceals the clock’s externally mounted bell. Also typical are the velvet-covered brass dial plate and the prominent figure of Chronos, or Father Time. The figure supports the chapter ring and rests on two signature plaques inscribed “Johannes Van/Ceulen Haghe.” The backplate is also marked “Johannes Van Ceulen/Fecit Haghe.” This clock has a two-day movement, verge and crown wheel escapement with crutch, silk thread suspension for the pendulum and count wheel striking. The alarm work is missing.
1. Mahoney, Michael S. “Christian Huygens: The Measurement of Time and of Longitude at Sea,” in Studies on Christiaan Huygens, Edited by H.J.M. Bos et al. (Lisse: Swets, 1980), 234-270.
2. Plomp, R. Spring-Driven Dutch Pendulum Clocks, 1657-1710. Schiedam: Interbook International B.V., 1979.
Object Name
date made
late 17th century
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
steel (overall material)
wood (overall material)
overall - clock: 19 1/4 in x 11 1/2 in x 5 7/8 in; 48.895 cm x 29.21 cm x 14.9225 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Time and Navigation
Measuring & Mapping
See more items in
Work and Industry: Mechanisms
Time and Navigation
Time and Navigation, National Air and Space Museum
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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