Saturday, May 31, 2008
The Maltese Clock
On one of my recent trips to Valletta, hidden away in a cellar I discovered one of the gilders found on the Maltese islands. ( A gilder is a craftsman who works with gold and silver to artistically cover an object as in the gold leaf process).
It is difficult to trace the origin of the The Maltese Clock, however, tradition has it that they adorned houses of the Maltese nobility as far back as the 17th century.
The clock was made of wood suitable to take on several layers of gypsum, which was then engraved and decorated with gold. The case had two doors. The inside door incorporated the hand painted dial to which a hand made clock mechanism by Maltese Clock Master Makers was fixed from behind. Further down in the clock face the moving pendulum could be seen through a decorated aperture. On the front there was another door, which was framed with glass to protect the dial and ornate hands. The clock case was then painted and abundantly decorated with flowers typical of the colourful finish for which the clock is renowned.
These clocks were made either as wall hanging or table clocks. The former were, however, the most popular. Today, the Original Maltese clocks are collectors items and very hard to find for acquisition as they fetch very high prices running into thousands of Liri.
However, the tradition goes on with the reproduction of these clocks. They are made in the same original manner using the same technique. The only difference is that one cannot find the original hand-made clockwork. Two types of movements are used nowadays: a mechanical movement, which is adapted to be wound from the inside of the clock or a quartz battery movement. The latter is more commonly used being more practical.
The Maltese Clock reproductions come in different colours, the most popular being green, black and terracotta (maroon colour). Our clocks are decorated in 22-carat gold leaf. They carry the Clock Studio’s certificate of authenticity. Every clock is carefully made after a long process. Mass production is not possible!