Grandfather Clock History
A Brief History of the Grandfather Clock
By Kristy Annely
Since the beginning of civilization, humans have searched
for a reliable way to keep track of the time. In the
earliest days, months, seasons and years were tracked by
careful monitoring of the phases of the moon. Later, the sun
and stars were also used to help early people track the
passing of time.
The Sumerians used the sundial to divide days into two-hour
segments. The Egyptians created a device called Cleopatra?s
needle to divide their days into two-hour segments while the
ancient Romans devised a way of dividing time into night and
A pressing need for more precise measurements led to the
invention of the water clock and then the hourglass. These
inventions were limited as they relied on water and sand,
respectively, to function. The search continued to search
for a way of tracking time independent of the seasons or
In 1582, Galileo discovered that a pendulum could be used to
track time. He drew the first designs for a grandfather
clock, though he did not build it. Finally, in 1656,
Christiaan Huygens built the first known grandfather clock,
putting Galileo?s discovery to use. Though the clock did not
keep accurate time, it was a major breakthrough in
timekeeping technology. Through the years, various inventors
tried to improve on the design, but with little luck.
Finally, in 1670, William Clement discovered that the clocks
worked better with a longer pendulum. Of course, this
required a taller clock. Clement named his newly designed
clocks long-case clocks. This was the predecessor of the
grandfather clocks that we know today.
In 1875, Henry Work wrote the song My Grandfather?s Clock?
and the name stuck and finally, after many years in the
making, grandfather clocks were born.
Today?s grandfather clocks rely on a pendulum attached to an
anchor. The swinging pendulum causes the anchor to turn a
gear, which in turn causes the clock to tick. A pair of
weights further helps power the clock and keeps it from
losing time. Although the technology has evolved over the
years, the grandfather clocks of today still reflect the
ingenuity of human?s earliest ancestors.
Grand father Clocks Info provides detailed information on
antique, contemporary, discount, English, and German
grandfather clocks, as well as kits and repair information.
Grandfather Clocks Info is the sister site of Cuckoo Clocks