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The Stoelklok, Staartklok, and
Zaanse: Dutch Wall Clock Styles
I have 2 Dutch wall clocks in the shop right now - Stoelklok &
Staartklok - and it's prompted me to examine the major Dutch wall
clock styles and their differences -- and attempt to compact it all
into a small monthly article. So here goes.........

It was the Dutch who brought the Longcase Clock to England in
the late 17th Century - changing clockmaking forever in a big way;
but the idea for the first Longcase was born out of domestic wall
clocks of the era (or"
Wag's on the Wall" as they were sometimes
called). These wall clocks typically could run for a day - or 30 hours
- on a wind. Later, 8-day movements were possible but required 1
extra gear - which, in turn, required additional weight to drive
that extra gear.
This additional weight must surely have been difficult to hang from
the wall - and this quirk certainly played a role in the design and
subsequent acceptance of the new form called the "Longcase
Clock"...but that's a story for another time......
The Netherlands

The term "Dutch" refers to the primary language & culture of the
people of The Netherlands, which - in Europe - is made up of 12
provinces. 2 of which make up a present day region known as
(the Country's Capital, Amsterdam, is located in North
Holland, The Hague is located in South Holland)

As far as Dutch wall clock production is concerned, the major
centers were located in the Northern Provinces: particularly
Friesland and the Zaan Region (which is part of North Holland,
just across the river north of Amsterdam)>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
While there are those that may have been created elsewhere in
the country we will limit this little ditty to Friesland & Zaan.

This province is considered to be the home to the Stoelklok &
Staartklok styles of wall clock.                                 
The Stoelklok
The imposing Stoelklok form originated back in the early 1700's
and is distinguished by its elaborate lead cast fretwork crown
(because it is lead it is very soft and bends very easily - be
aware!!), and it may be adorned with a crown "jewel" which is
typically a small painted figure, emblem, crest, etc. At some point
it became almost standard to include painted mermaids on either
side of the wood casing. The Dutch Stoelklok means "Stool
Clock" or "Seat Clock" in that the elaborately pillared movement
sits firmly upon a single stool/seat built into the case.

 The Staartklok
The more restrained Staartklok came later on in the late-1700's;
the fancy lead fret work is gone. The main ornamentation
typically consists of brass figures above the hood (it seems
those mermaids have been sent back out to sea here). The
brass adornment figures may have been an influence of the
Zaanse clocks (see below) which, ironically, are most likely based
on the Stoelklok.

In Dutch, the word Staart means "Tail" which refers to the clock's
longer wooden case backing and sliding tail cover which encases
the pendulum, though the swinging bob is usually seen through
a glass lenticle built into the cover. Many of its details certainly
suggest a radical direction away from its predecessor, the
"Stoel" form.  

The dials of these Frisian clocks are painted - though apparently,
no one got too
misty-eyed about the originals as a good many of
these were re-painted over the years with seafaring & quaint
"Holland-esque" themes.

The "Stoel" in my shop has a crown wheel escapement (you can
watch the action here....no pendulum, though)>>>>>>>>>>>
While many Stoel's also have the anchor escapement the fact
that it has the older style crown wheel escapement, strangely,
does not point to a particular date that a Stoel clock was made.
Also, I would imagine that a Staartklok would not be able to
incorporate a crown type escapement because of the wide arc of
pendulum swing - the bob would knock against the inside of the
tail cover Apparently, there were many excellent  reproductions
made of both the Stoel & Staart throughout the 1800's and even
the early 1900's and in many cases its difficult to tell whether the
one you have is an "original".

There are many variations of the basic Staartklok: a "Major's
Clock" called the
Burgemeesterklok (which I just love to say over
& over again! - preferably with a Oomp pah pah, Oomp pah pah
beat). A shorter tailed clock called the "Kortstaart". An office
clock called the "Notarisklok", and my favorite Dutch name for a
clock: the "Schippertje" or "Little Sailor".

Zaan Region

                   The Zaanse or Zaandaam Clock
From Noord Holland came the famous Zaanse clock>>>>>>>
which originated in the early-1700's and is certainly based on
the Stoelklok - but with several ornamental upgrades:
#1 the fretwork (where evident) is bright cast brass instead of
cast lead.
#2 The dials are metal chapter rings with cast brass spandrels
instead of painted chapters with scenic landscapes.
#3 The weights are bright brass pears instead of the
(beautifully) drab tapered Stoelklok bombs.
#4 NO MERMAIDS!!!!!!!!!!!!
And perhaps the most significant difference:
#5 The cast brass figures atop the case representing the more
pronounced, world-bearing Atlas with Faith, Hope & Charity
sitting astride.

Ornamentation is the key word here:  or, at least, a sort of
metropolitan "one-upsmanship" if you will. These clocks were
developed during the "Golden Age" when Holland was at the
heart of world commerce and, I would imagine, brimming with

These Zaanse clocks are very much still popular and very much
still made to this day.
Action of Crown Wheel Escapement without a pendulum
The Stoelklok
The Zaanse/Zaandaam Clock
The Staartklok