Missing hands is a very common problem and one that is seldom easy to resolve.

Apart from the wide range of styles used over the centuries, there is also the issue of hand fittings. In recent years standardisation has resulted in a small number of typical fittings, the most well known being the Quartz clock 'I-shaft'. Prior to the 2nd World War things were very different.

French clocks were generally made by clockmakers that bought blanks from Paris, and they are known to this day as 'Pendules de Paris'. Although they can look very similar, the finished parts were not standardised. They all look much the same but the wheels and other parts are not interchangeable. Similarly, the chances of finding a replacement hand the will simply push on are slim.

American clocks of the 19th Century are a different matter. Following the military success of the interchangeability of gun parts, clock factories began mass producing movements. Unlike the British & French clockmaker who generally made one clock at a time. the Americans mass produced the individual components, including the hands and their collets. Even so, the minute hands can have square or rectangular holes.

Germany began copying American clocks and to an extent German hands are similar but not the same.

To obtain replacement hands, first find a pair of the right length, followed by a suitable style. Only then can you address the fitting.

You might be lucky enough to find the original collets on the shafts. If not, the only solution is to make them or buy something near and fashion it to suit.

Repairing Your Own Clocks by Mervyn Passmore