Connecticut Chapter 148 NAWCC Logo

Chapter 148

Al Comen, Pres.
phone: 203-378-4323
Cheryl A. Comen, Treasurer
409A Montauk Lane
Stratford, CT 06614
Mary Jane Dapkus, Secretary

NEXT MEETING - January 21, 2017

Edmond Town Hall, 45 Main Street, Newtown, CT, 8:30 AM. Table holders may set up at 8:00 AM. Please do not come before 8:30 if you do not have a table. Must be member of NAWCC (or guest) to attend. The usual refreshments of doughnuts, pastries, bagels, and beverages will be served.

Click here for directions.

Chapter 148 meets on the 3rd Saturday of odd months.
January, March, May, July, September and November

Meetings Past

November 19, 2016 Meeting Highlights
by Mary Jane Dapkus

Chapter 148 met on Saturday morning, November 19. Members extended a special "thank you" to our founder and first president, John Salva, through whose efforts we successfully celebrated our 26th year as a chapter.

Member Joe Otulak (CT) recalled pleasant memories of working on horological projects with George Bruno, pooling the resources of their respective home machine shops. It was nice to visit with expert clock repairer Larry Byrne, whose responsibilities allow him little time to travel to attend meetings these days. Table holders Joe and Kathy Kaddis generously dispensed the kind of knowledge only seasoned collectors are able to provide, together with sprinklings of wit and wisdom. Jon Jacobi remembered the famous horological author, William Distin, whom he had once met at a chapter meeting. Long-time member Jack Ross presided over his mart table in his inimitable style.

New member and expert cabinetmaker, Gil Tyler, exhibited a wonderful early 19th century shelf clock, bearing the label of "John Birge for George Mitchell, Bristol, Ct." Although the label stated "Patent Lever", similar to the example pictured in Fig. 46 of the late Kenneth Roberts' book on Joseph Ives, Gil's clock never had patent lever springs. Gil explained his technique for scraping modern gold paint off the columns with a wooden tongue depressor, revealing the clock's wonderful original gold leafing.

bird's eye view of Ch. 148's mart

Special thanks are due to Don and Carol Montory for faithfully printing and mailing our meeting notices, and to David Ewbank for punctually picking up our refreshments. We are very grateful to Ron Price (MA) for his help over many years in maintaining our chapter's website! And many thanks to our chapter officers, Al and Cheryl Comen, not only for thoughtfully providing lavish holiday gift baskets for our door prize raffle, but also for putting in much time and effort to ensure the success and comfort of our 2016 meetings!

Happy Holidays!!

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September 17, 2016 Meeting Highlights
by Mary Jane Dapkus

About ninety Chapter 148 members and friends gathered at the old Edmond Town Hall on the morning of Saturday, September 17. Coffee and conversation flowed freely over an abundantly stocked mart.

Our guest speaker was Christopher (“Chris”) Corveleyn, a machine designer by trade, and a seasoned cabinetmaker with abundant experience in many branches of woodworking by avocation.

The topic of Chris's talk was reproducing various styles of pillar & scroll shelf clock cases, to fit loose antique wooden clock movements. Chris began by explaining that, using modern tools and materials, he works from copyrighted plans and drawings by George Bruno, which are available from the American Clock & Watch Museum, Bristol, CT (Tel. 860-583-6060), an authorized distributor thereof.

Next Chris discussed sources of supplies, suggesting practical approaches to problems inherent in trying to execute 200-year-old woodworking designs in the 21st century, for example, the use of sapele veneers in place of mahogany. He then guided us through the tasks of producing fretwork and scrolls; making legs, returns, and doors; milling slots in the tops and bottoms of cases; turning pillars; clamping, gluing, finishing, and finish details such as making escutcheons.

Chris generously shared with us much wisdom acquired through hard-earned experience. Since loose clock movements are not infrequently encountered, does he have any intention of producing them to offer for sale? No. As he patiently explained, it is far less costly to purchase an intact antique clock than it is to make one--thereby revealing that the motivation behind his efforts could be none other than a labor of love.

Special thanks are due to Chris, and to all the others who helped make Ch. 148's September meeting thoroughly enjoyable, educational, and thought provoking.

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July 16, 2016 Meeting Highlights
by Mary Jane Dapkus

Ch. 148 members and guests convened at the historic Edmond Town Hall on the steamy Saturday morning of July 16. Despite the heat and vacation schedules, meeting attendance was good, and mart trading brisk.

Items spotted at the mart included an Atkins Clock Co., Bristol, Conn. "London" model shelf clock, dating to the 3rd quarter of the 19th century, with its original 8-day spring driven movement, original finish, and original glasses. Also offered for sale were an early Atkins Clock Co. cottage clock, and an Ansonia Brass Co. steeple clock. Both labels are relatively scarce.

An exhibit entitled "Train, Plane, and Automobile Clocks" now on display at the American Clock & Watch Museum, Bristol, CT, will run until the end of the year. A concurrent loan exhibit of keywind Lionel toy trains dating to the 1930s to 1940s, will run only until the end of the summer. The collection of Lionel trains descended in the family of Cortlandt Hull, whose uncle played the original werewolf in period black & white cinema.

Members had a chance to debrief Tom Grimshaw, recently returned from an astrophysics conference in the South Pacific. Tom also shared pleasant recollections of Merle Lee, an old-time NAWCC member and clock dealer, who was notable for having worked, over the course of his lifetime, in professions ranging from stand-up comedian to school superintendent.

Members sought and received advice on a variety of repair and restoration topics, and brought a wide array of experience, skills, and talents to bear. For example, in addition to his knowledge of clock and watch repair, Dean Spencer is also a 40+ year veteran musician in the Connecticut's oldest historic fife and drum corps, and has had much experience handling early 19th century musical instruments, especially drums. He is also very knowledgeable about pre-Civil War military music.

We were pleased to learn that Michael Graham, a community consultant who also happens to repair and restore early American clocks, has taken up the challenge of managing the restoration of Vassar College's historic chronograph, which project languished following the death of two key restoration team members: James Storrow (NY) and Mel Smith (NY). Fortuitously, Michael has been able to bring together some new team members, and has even located a glassblower who will attempt to reproduce a key missing part of the chronograph: its glass recording pen.

Drawing from a wealth of knowledge and experience, Steve Sadowski will give a presentation on Royal Vienna porcelain shelf clocks at the upcoming Chapter 1 meeting scheduled for the 1st Sunday in December. Bob Rukowski will give an unusual talk in memory of Sal Provenzano, on the subject of Behar cuckoo clocks, at Chapter 2's November meeting at New Rochelle, NY.

Many thanks are due to our hard-working and thoughtful chapter officers, Al and Cheryl Comen, who saw to the many details involved in holding the meeting, even down to bringing ice to sip with juice and beverages on that sweltering morning!

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May 21, 2016 Meeting Highlights
by Mary Jane Dapkus

Members of Connecticut Chapter 148 convened on Saturday May 21, 2016, a glorious spring morning. Far from being tradition bound, our meetings are "tradition enhanced". For example, our traditional meeting place, the gymnasium of the historic Edmond Town Hall in Newtown, comprises a uniquely comfortable and congenial venue. In keeping with tradition, the May meeting featured mart, door prize drawings, and speaker. Numerous clocks, watches, and horological books went home with grateful new owners, and an assortment of donated copies of past issues of the American Clock & Watch Museum's Timepiece Journal were greeted by appreciative hands. But an even more uplifting experience was in store for chapter members in attendance.

Our guest speaker was Bob Frishman, proprietor of Bell-Time Clocks of Andover, MA. The topic of his talk was the upcoming 2016 NAWCC Ward Francillon Time Symposium, of which Bob happens to be committee chair. The symposium is scheduled to be held on October 6-8, at the Winterthur Museum, Library, and Gardens in Wilmington, Delaware.

In addition to his work in clock repair and sales, it may be said that Bob has a deep commitment to the art, science, and history of clock making, but even this is an understatement. Indeed, he seems to have made it his life's mission to revitalize America's interest in the subject of horology. To that end, Bob has been working tirelessly as a writer, lecturer, and event organizer.

As many of our members are aware, Winterthur was the home of Henry F. du Pont (1880-1969), a horticulturist, collector, and descendant of a wealthy family of 19th century industrialists. This home is now a museum, which houses one of the most outstanding collections of American antiques in the United States. Winterthur is also a world-renowned center of education and scholarship.

As might be imagined, it took some diplomatic skill to forge an alliance with Winterthur for the purpose of holding such an event, but Bob met the challenge. He then went on to assemble a most remarkable lineup of lectures and lecturers for the symposium.

With topics ranging from the clocks of Rittenhouse, Dominy, Stretch, Claggett, Terry, and Willard, to very early watchmaking techniques, the symposium will feature much to delight anyone with an eye for masterpieces and ear for excellent scholarship. For further information on this extraordinary opportunity to experience Winterthur's superb horological collections (along with the scholars who can best explain what they are and what they mean) firsthand, details may be found at:

Many thanks are due to Bob not only for an outstanding presentation and all his hard work in organizing the symposium, but also for inspiring those who attended his talk to renew our efforts to give generously of our own time and unique talents to ensure that the institutions and interests we so enjoy and believe in have a future. To that end, Bob has set the bar extremely high!

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March 19, 2016 Meeting Highlights
by Mary Jane Dapkus

Connecticut Chapter 148 met on Saturday morning, March 19. Over ninety members and friends attended. Our meeting featured a well stocked mart, raffle, and impromptu book discussion.

Members sought and received instruction on subjects as varied as setting up a cuckoo clock in a neighbor's home; repairing tiny ladies' watches; repairing a minute repeating watch with a push wind crown; and repairing the broken bottom pivot of a ship's chronometer balance staff.

Our book discussion centered around a few classic works pertaining to the science and history of time and time keeping. For example, The Universe and Dr. Einstein by Lincoln Barnett, 2nd revised ed. (NY: Bantam Books, 1980), offers a concise summary of Einstein's remarkable historic discoveries that forever changed the way time, and indeed, the entire universe, are conceptualized. Similarly, A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking (NY: Bantam Books, 1988) offers amazing insights in a very readable format. Another current favorite is Ships, Clocks, and Stars: the Quest for Longitude, by Richard Dunn and Rebekah Higgitt (NY: Harper Design, 2014). Finally, early political and scientific aspects of the struggle for a way to measure longitude are well documented in: Longitude and Empire: How Captain Cook's Voyages Changed the World, by Brian Richardson (Vancouver, B.C.: UBC Press, 2005.)

At the Chapter's May meeting, Bob Frishman (MA) will present an overview of the upcoming NAWCC Symposium, to be held at the Winterthur Museum in Wilmington, Delaware, in October 2016. Stay tuned.

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January 16, 2016 Meeting Highlights
by Mary Jane Dapkus

Connecticut Chapter 148 held its first meeting of the New Year on Saturday morning, January 16. A chilly rain fell as members converged on the historic Edmund Town Hall in Newtown. In light of years past, however, few if any complaints about the weather were either heard or entertained.

Our January meetings typically do not include a speaker. Instead, as might be expected, members enjoyed the opportunity to chat about the holidays, repair issues, recent auctions, and exhibits. In the latter category, we learned that a new exhibit of clocks and watches designed specifically for royal customers is about to, or has recently opened, at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. Closer to home, “Ships, Clocks, and Stars”, a loan exhibition from the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, England, continues on display at Mystic Seaport in Mystic, CT, until March 28, 2016. This exhibit tells the story of a key piece of Britain's 18th century quest to rule the seas: the need for a reliable method to determine longitude, through a number of unique objects and artifacts. For those who may have missed it at Mystic, “Ships, Clocks, and Stars” will travel next to Sydney, Australia, the final stop on the exhibit's world tour.

Items spotted at the mart included a weight-driven 30-hr. time, strike and alarm, wood movement shelf clock by Wells Forbs, Bristol, New Hampshire, bearing label dated 1842. Also encountered was a loose tall clock dial signed "Bevan / 23 Argyle St. / Birkenhead"; a miniature bird-in-a-cage clock with alarm, ca. 1900, of German origin, with an 8-day movement, having two horizontal dials above the bird, one showing hours and one minutes; a "Tidey Furnace Clock", bearing the patent date of March 23, 1923 on its dial, part of a device used to close the flue of a coal-fired furnace; a "tape measure" clock; and a "Zig et Puce" (French comic book characters) animated and musical alarm clock dating to ca. 1940.

A very happy, healthy, New Year to all!

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