Sunday, June 1, 2014

Clock Haul - 4 New Acquisitions

Yesterday was quite a fun day for me. I woke up somewhat early (9ish?) and decided to check the online classifieds to see if there were any nearby yard sales (ones I could walk to). In the process, I noticed that one of the yard sales I had missed last week was being done again this weekend. The reason I wanted to go to this particular yard sale was that there were several antique clocks for sale! A whole shelf full! You can see some of them in this photo from the ad:

The sale was NOT nearby, though. Technically out of town. But it was within a 15 minute walk from the nearest bus stop, so I was still able to go.

When I got there, several had been sold (the Art Deco looking ones from the photo above), but many remained, and the asking prices were rock bottom. Most were either 25$ or 30$ each. At first, I was extremely excited, but when I started to look at them, I could see why they were so cheap. A bunch of the black mantle clocks on the shelf were missing bezels and glasses, had no back panels, a few were empty cases, and others had no hands. Still worth buying at 25$ each, but I have too many projects already, and black mantle clocks aren't really my favourites.

The ogee clocks (which I bought) were also basket cases so no one wanted to touch them.

While I was browsing, there was another couple browsing around, and the husband pointed to the ogee clocks, and looked to his wife saying "Remember those?" "God they were terrible timekeepers." This followed with a short conversation with one of the sellers (the owner's son), and he told him that he couldn't even get it to keep time to within 10 minutes a DAY.

I didn't say anything, but from my own experience, I've found that ogee clocks are some of the best timekeepers in my collection. They are weight driven, which automatically makes them superior to spring clocks, and most of mine run to an accuracy of 30 seconds per day or better. If I really tweak them with the seasons, I can generally get them accurate to within a minute a week.

This same yard sale browser also complained that they only run for 24 hours. While this is definitely true (24-30 hours), I don't find that it's a big deal to wind them daily. I understand why a lot of people are turned off by 30 hour clocks, and a lot of collectors completely avoid them, but that's their loss. Some of my nicest clocks are 30 hour ones. I currently have 6 clocks running that need daily winding, but back when I was still at the apartment, I had about a dozen. I just wound them right before bed every night. It took maybe 5 minutes, but it was part of my daily routine.

Anyhow, I was sifting through boxes filled with broken cuckoo clocks, small uninteresting wall clocks, and other miscellaneous items, and I eventually introduced myself to the clock collector when I spotted him coming out from the house. He was a nice friendly guy, and he also invited me inside to see some of his other clocks. He had a beautiful mahogany longcase clock: probably Scottish, with a period 3 dial (after 1800) in the living room. The rest of the house was very plain with modern decor, but his small room was something else entirely.

His main clock/display room was about a 10'x10' study at the front of the house, and it was like walking into a Victorian fantasy. As you walked into the room from the left corner, there was a large oak roll-top desk directly in front, with a huge oak store regulator hanging above it.

Immediately to the left was a MASSIVE 1850's bonnet chest. I would try to link to a photo of a similar one off the web, but this one had a very unusual layout with deeply curved drawer fronts on the top row. It had beautiful bird's eye maple drawer fronts, while a lot of the other flat pieces (drawer/cabinet edges) were in curly maple. I think it had turned posts/legs but now I can't remember. I just remember it was gorgeous, and not quite like any others I've ever seen.

On top of this dresser, he had 3 clocks. 2 Eastlake/Victorian gingerbreads, and in the centre, a really nice (tall) Seth Thomas (Plymouth Hollow) column style #2 (the harder-to-find one with the squared narrow top mouldings similar to the column style #1, as opposed to the easy-to-find ones with the ogee top moulding). There were also some fantastically beautiful and very fancy glass oil lamps on this dresser with the clocks. They weren't brightly coloured, but the pressed glass patterns in them was very detailed, and (if I remember correctly) they were older 3-piece ones with the brass collars in the centre.

Side note: He had over a dozen plainer looking oil lamps for sale.

On the right side of the room was a window, and then in the corner next to the door, he had a tall oak barrister's bookcase, with (I think) a fancy black mantle clock, and another gingerbread, and another oil lamp or two.

The entire room just had this wonderful historic feel.

He also showed me a few of the other clocks he had downstairs on some shelves. He said they would also likely be for sale, but at around 125$ each (a bit more than I want to pay for some average looking gingerbreads). He told me that he had bought-out a jeweller/clock collector a while back, which is where most of these clocks had come from.

During all this, he said that he might want to have me clean several of them, because he's been looking for someone to do the work for quite a while. He didn't seem to know a huge deal about clocks (he had lots of them but none were working, and he also didn't know what the alarm mechanism was on one of the gingerbread clocks he had).

I ended up wanting to buy 2 of the ogee clocks, and he convinced me to get the third one, and knocked down the price to 20$. He also gave me a few of the spare parts (a few pendulums and loose hands). Apparently someone had beat me to a bunch of clock hands (a whole box full) which was sold for "something like 5$". Ugh. Oh well.

We exchanged numbers and info, and I planned to come back for the clocks Sunday (since I was on foot). I ended up returning that same evening because my Mom had plans today (Sunday), and she happened to be off yesterday.

When I returned, I ended up also buying one of the black mantle clocks. There was one in particular that I had been eyeing earlier that day, and I couldn't decide of I wanted it or not. It was only 25$, so I HAD TO. I liked it because it was marbled, and still had the original (and deeply crackled) finish.

All told, I bought 4 clocks for 105$, and also got a few odds and ends (which included a slightly damaged gingerbread clock pendulum which I can probably repair and use).

Clock #1 (30$) is a rather nice and typical ogee clock. This one is by Jerome/New Haven, and it has the original dial, tablet, bob, and finish. What I found that's really odd, however, is the veneer, but I'll get to that in a second.

The tablet is in pretty good shape, and it shows "Sailors Home Liverpool".

The dial is pretty faded, but won't be restored (possibly touched-up, but probably not).

The finish is original as far as I can tell. It looks super old, it's grimy, flaky, crackled, and chipped. What's odd, though, is that under the finish, it looks like pine? You can clearly see knots, and it has been finished to look like mahogany (or mahogany colour anyway).

Prior to having seen this case up-close and in person, I had always assumed that pine cases had been stripped of their veneer. Some of the times that's the case, but I suppose there are always exceptions. If you look at the photos, you can see that the edge banding and door veneer are veneered in typical "short grain" direction, but in pine. This just boggles my mind. I'm going to need to do a bit of research there and see what I turn up.

While this is the best clock in the bunch (as far as condition), the movement seems suspect. I will need to check this, but from what I can remember, the only maker who used curved wheel crossings like these is Gilbert. I've seen exceptions, but I don't think Jerome or any of the other major companies used this design. If it's a Gilbert movement, the clock is definitely a marriage, but I can likely find the right movement for pretty cheap if I want to.

The labels in all 3 ogees are quite deteriorated/damaged but it can clearly be identified as reading Chauncey Jerome New Haven, Conn. and it shows the factory.

The label is the same as this one:

Clock #2 (30$) is a Seth Thomas that I wanted strictly because of the stunning rosewood veneer case. The ogee mouldings are particularly deeply cut, and for the most part, the veneer is in good shape (rosewood is particularly prone to flaking, peeling, and chipping since it is an oily tropical wood that doesn't glue very well). This will also be the FIRST rosewood ogee in my collection.

The glass has a tag that identifies it as a Seth Thomas Plymouth piece, but that may or may not be entirely accurate.

The dial is a joke. I found it funny that my Mom said it was quite pretty, and then I told her it's a bad repaint job. It looks like the original embossed dial pan, but it's been completely stripped, spray painted, and repainted. Whoever did the numerals had some skill (with nice fine lines in the minute track) but the V numerals are too wide, and the floral corners are quite amateur.

I was pretty sure that the broken mirror was a replacement, but two points have me second guessing this. Point 1: this jeweller's label is from a jeweller in London Ontario, and dates to between 1866-1877 based on the info I was able to dig-up. Point 2: is that the glass is VERY thin. Thin mirrors are usually a good indication that they are old. This one is almost just 1/16" thick (which is super thin), there also doesn't seem to be any marks on the wood retaining strips that hold the glass in place. On the other hand, the mirror isn't wavy. Not even a little.

I will probably do a stencilled tablet though.

The movement is stamped Plymouth Hollow.

Lots of ugly solder, but otherwise, it doesn't look too bad. I didn't think Plymouth movements ever used screws for the plates... Hmmmm. More digging to do.

The label is Thomaston. This tells me that either the movement is wrong, or that the clock dates from right around 1865 when the town was renamed from Plymouth Hollow to Thomaston after Seth Thomas' death.

The label is the same as this one:

Clock #3 is the worst of the bunch, and the one I originally passed on, but was knocked down to 20$. It is also a New Haven, and it needs a lot of help.

The dial is just the worst. It is original, and the original paint is under this cartoon effort. The problem, though, is that the original paint is 60-70% flaked away. There's enough peeking through to get an idea of what it looked like though. It's a pretty plain/standard dial nearly identical to the first clock.

I think this is my first ogee clock with a detailed knob. All my others have a plain zinc one, or a bent brass wire type.

The movement seems to be in great shape except for the verge. The exit pallet has been re-soldered in place.

Oddly the best label of the 3. "American Extra ??? ment Clocks, New Haven Clock Company, New Haven, Conn. I always find it funny when the label designers don't take into consideration the large gong base that will cover it.

The main problem with this case are two large and terrible veneer repairs on the left side. If I can peel most of this off, it could potentially be a somewhat easy fix, but it looks truly awful. While I like some old repairs, they need to be well done to be worth keeping. There's a fine line between "charming" and hideous.

These two photos are actually a bit blurry and make it look "not that bad" but trust me, it's bad. The veneer isn't even the same thickness, and it's lifting in sections.

A last note about the ogees: I have 5/6 weights, 2 bobs, and 2 minute hands. There are 2 spade hour hands, but they don't belong to these clocks.

The last addition, clock #4 (25$), is a Waterbury Duane. I found this clock in my 1912-13 catalogue (p. 51) and right next to it is the Duluth, which I also have (a gift from my aunt, and sadly it was heavily refinished, and with bun feet since the cast feet are missing).

What drew me to this clock was the original finish. The finish is in what most people would consider "awful and unsalvageable" condition, but I love it. It's the original green marble paint, with a very thick layer of shellac or varnish that has become very crackled. There are some scratches, and I hope I can camouflage them.

I was not able to find any other examples of the Duane model (not that I necessarily need any).

The bezel and glass are missing, but since I have the Duluth, I can measure it and get an exact one to match (hopefully). I also noticed that the Duluth's existing bezel is horribly mangled from some kind of glass replacement botch job, so I may replace both.

I LOVE the lion head side pieces. I haven't seen these often. It looks like they might have been repainted, since I see paint smears on the edges.

Perfectly aged feet.


The movement looks extensively rebushed, but in generally good shape. The back door and pendulum bob are missing (but I can copy the door from the Duluth, which is a very simple design)

So that's it for now. I'm not sure if I'll be working on any of these anytime soon, but you never know.

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