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Olof Helander’s Clocks, 1859


Four fire-gilded bronze clocks cast by the master founder Olof Helander from Kalajoki were bought for the Imperial Palace in 1859. The clocks represent the height of Helander’s art. Three of them are mantel clocks and one is a wall clock, a copy of which was later produced for the Presidential Palace. The commission from Helander also included two pairs of large nine-branched candelabras.

The clocks represent the French Neo-Rococo style. The mechanisms and moulds were probably imported from France. Glass domes were used from the beginning to protect the mantel clocks.

Olof (Olli) Helander (also known as “Veten-Olli”, 1801–1886) came from a famous family of founders in Ostrobothnia. He was trained as a founder by his father, Henrik (Heikki) Helander, and his two sons and his younger brother Tilvis (Leander) also worked as founders. The sons, at least, participated in the making of the clocks and candelabras for the Imperial Palace.

The Helander foundry cast all kinds of objects, from ship’s nails to horse brass, from knives to church chandeliers and church bells. For example, the fittings, decorations and gilding of the so-called Emperor’s knife, presented to Alexander II, were all by Olof Helander. Anders Donner, commercial councillor and hero of the War of Åland, also commissioned Helander to cast the hinges for the rudder of his ship. Donner’s portrait is part of the Imperial Art Collection.