Vilnius as a Production
Centre of Longcase Clocks
from the Mid-Eighteenth
to the Mid-Nineteenth Century*
A longcase clock1 is an original synthesis of carpenter’s and watchmaker’s
skills. As a functional and artistic object it comes in a variety of types. From
the tura of the seventeenth up to the twentieth century it played an important
role in almost all of Europę. It also became popular in the Polish-Lithuanian
Republic. One of production centres of longcase clocks was Vilnius.
So far, researchers of the Vilnius watchmaking have concentrated on the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, mostly on Jakub Gierke and his excellent
turret and tile clocks.2 Among the few scholars who did notice the furniture
case aspect of the Vilnius longcase clocks were Stefan Narębski and Jerzy
Hoppen. Narębski1 produced inventory drawings of now unavailable objects,4
while Hoppen photographed them.5 The problem of the Vilnius clockmaking
This article, a fragment of a larger study in progress devoted to Polish longcase clocks in the
eighteenth, nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century, was written with financial aid
of the State Committee for Scientific Research.
1 The term longcase clock used in this article refers to pendulum clocks in a wooden, furniture-
like case, known in Germany as Bodenstanduhr.
2 M. Brensztein, “Zegarmistrzostwo wileńskie w wiekach XVI i XVII”, Ateneum Wileńskie, 1923,
I, pp. 29-39; W Siedlecka, Zegary polskie, Wrocław-Warszawa-Kraków, Gdańsk 1974, pp. 76-77.
3 Prof. Stefan Narębski (1892-1966), architect, architecture conservator and teacher working
in Vilnius, connoisseur and lover of the art of furniture, the first researcher of Vilnius carpentry,
author of Zarys historii meblarstwa-, after the Second World War co-founder of the Institute of
Fine Arts at the Copernicus University in Toruń; cf. Entry on Narębski by J. Poklewski in
Kształcenie artystyczne w Wilnie i jego tradycje. Yilniaus meno mokykla ir jos tradicijos, ed.
J. Malinowski, M. Woźniak and R. Janoniene, Toruń-Vilnius 1996, p. 115. Some of Narębski’s
notes were presented to the National Museum in Warsaw by the professor’s daughter, Barbara
4 The objects got lost or dispersed during the Second World War and the following repatriation,
revindication and nationalisation of private estates, social associations and church properties.
Prof. Jerzy Hoppen (1891-1969), painter, graphic artist, conservator, student and professor
at the Batory University in Vilnius, co-founder of the Institute of Fine Arts at the Copernicus
University in Toruń (from 1946), author of numerous documentary photographs of Vilnius
monuments (some of the photos are in the National Museum in Warsaw); cf. Entry on Hoppen