How to Determine the Age of a Grandfather Clock From Its Case

Written by martin adamovic
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How to Determine the Age of a Grandfather Clock From Its Case
Dating a grandfather clock is simple. (grandfather clock image by Paul Moore from

Grandfather clocks, also known as longcase clocks, have been around for centuries and are now well known all over the world. Over the course of their existence, the style and make-up of grandfather clocks has evolved. With such a rich history, it is helpful to know how to quickly date a grandfather clock, whether to assess the price or simply to admire an antique. Fortunately, there is a way to date most grandfather clocks just by observing the case.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Check the case to see if it is made of maple or oak. Grandfather clocks from before the mid-1700s will be made of maple or oak only. Maple and oak are both hard woods that have a coarse grain.

  2. 2

    Check the case to see if it is made of mahogany. Grandfather clocks originated in Great Britain in the mid-1600s. All grandfather clocks that were made of mahogany were not made during or before the mid-1700s since mahogany did not arrive to Great Britain before this time period. Grandfather clock cases were also built out of pine, satinwood, and fruitwood after the mid-1700s.

  3. 3

    Check the case to see if it is made of Bakelite. Grandfather clocks of the 1930s and 1940s were often made out of a type of plastic called Bakelite. Bakelite has a hard outer surface that has a smell similar to formaldehyde when it is rubbed. Additionally, you can use a magnifying glass to look for chips in the surface of the clock around the edges. Bakelite chips over time.

  4. 4

    Identify the style of the case. The majority of grandfather clocks are designed in a way that indicates the time period. Cases from the 1600s all the way up to the Victorian period of the 19th century were designed simply, without elaborate external wood work. The grandfather clocks of the Victorian period have ornate cases with detailed carvings.

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