Fusée dial clocks have a huge following; the best ones fetch thousands of pounds because of their fine hands, convex dials and superlative movements. The run of the mill versions are much cheaper but also sought after by enthusiasts so they still run into hundreds of pounds each, which is within the pocket of less well-informed collectors. Not surprising therefore that the fakers are at work here.
Fortunately, the majority are foreign and might never have seen a real antique one so they aren't very good at it and with the guidance below, the cautious buyer will be able to spot the fakes from the real thing.
One of the most common errors in a fake dial clock is the hinge on the bezel. If the hinge is on the left, you're probably looking at an imported one - see the top photograph. There will always be exceptions, of course, but most authentic clocks have the hinge on the right.
Secondly, you might see that the bezel has bevelled glass fitted, which is very unusual indeed for an antique dial clock.
Third, original clocks had black steel hands whereas the fakes quite often have brass or gold-painted hands.
Next, you'll find that the fakes almost always have something on the dial to associate the clock with a particular maker, place, retailer or purpose. Many collectible ones also have these features. But the fakers don't seem to be very creative because the same names keep appearing: ATKINSON, ALLEN, CILLET BLAND, and SIR WALKER are fairly common but there must be thousands of fake dial clocks bearing the name R JONES & Co LONDON plus either the initials LMS or GWR. These initials are there to attract interest from railway enthusiasts hoping to get a cheap historic clock from the London, Midland & Scottish railway or the Great Western Railway. Of course, railway memorabilia attracts a huge following so if you're part of it, have a look at Simon Turner's website illustrating the various fake railway clocks he's encountered.
If you turn the clock over and just look at it, ask yourself if it looks old. Most fakes are in very good condition; most authentic clocks are not.
If you can remove the back box, which is held by four wooden pegs, or just look through the side or bottom door using a small torch, you will find that the fake movements often have several distinguishing features too, which are illustrated in the fourth photograph.
First, they nearly always have a steel cable. Now there's nothing inherently wrong with that - the early and some of the best dial clocks have chains but most of the rest have natural gut. You only ever see steel cables on much later examples of run-of-the-mill dial clocks as they were much cheaper to make in long reels for mass production, and they lasted forever.
Next, you'll see that the brass posts that hold the movement together are perfectly straight rather than turned. The later dial clocks were indeed like this and also featured another similarity which is that they were screwed together (just like all the fakes), not pinned like the early dial clocks.
A more obvious feature common to fakes however is the thickness of the wheels and shape of the arbors (steel shafts). The early clockmakers took a pride in 'crossing out' (hand filing the spokes) the wheels and left them looking fine and polished. They also turned the arbors to a bulbous shape. The wheels on the fakes, however, look like they've been punched out of a sheet of brass and the spokes are thick and unpolished. And the arbors are dead straight and look new and shiny.
But probably the most telling sign is the number 6472 stamped on the backplate (see the final image). If the clock you're thinking of buying has this number stamped on it, then it is almost certainly a modern one deliberately made to confuse the customer into thinking he's buying an antique.
So be cautious.