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  1. #1

    Default How important is provenance to you?

    Could find much if anything in the my search but I thought it might interest some.

    How much effort do you make to find out the past history of your newest acquisition or does it matter?

    For most of my clocks I know nothing about their history because they have passed through too many hands yet for a couple I do know some interesting tidbits about them.

    Is it important? Do you care and I don't mean that in a negative sense? Any interesting stories about your clocks?

    Ron

  2. #2
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    Default Re: How important is provenance to you? (By: Rockin Ronnie)

    I don't make any effort at all to find out anything. If there's a history that comes with it, it's sort of an "oh, cool!", but that's not at all important to me. The one non-family clock I have that has a history does make for a somewhat-interesting tale when I show it to visitors, but it's the only one that I know (or care) anything about.

    Glen

  3. #3
    Registered User richiec's Avatar
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    Default Re: How important is provenance to you? (By: glenhead)

    I love the provenance but am an amateur genealogist at heart, between my great-great aunt, her father, my father, my sister and myself we have traced one side of the family back to the year 900 AD. We have no heirloom clocks in my family, just a couple I picked up at marts but no history attached to either of them. I do have a pocket watch from the family that is engraved December 25th, 1847 to my great, great, great grandfather.

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    Default Re: How important is provenance to you? (By: Rockin Ronnie)

    I am not a collector of clocks, however I am interested in hearing from those that bring me one in for service. If I see stuff that perhaps Grandpa may have fixed I will inquire if indeed it was "cared for" in the family and try not to undo anything that seems functional and reliable.

    I like it when I find markings, dates etc inside the clock or on the plates. I know there are lots here that don't like any repairers marks on the movements, but I do.

    I got my Grandfather's pocket watch when he died. I know that he always looked after stuff very well. When I open the back of his watch there are many many lovely inscriptions from previous people with date, who have serviced it. The script in most cases is very well done, and just reinforces what I always knew of him....he cared for his stuff well and his pocket watch was no exception.

    David
    David S

  5. #5

    Default Re: How important is provenance to you? (By: Rockin Ronnie)

    I don't do to much in that area. If the tale comes from the customer it usually overblown. If it comes from some written matter like newspaper clippings or bill of sale etc. Thats nice and usually helpful. My my main problems with provenance is that it takes a lot of time and I really don't know which sources to trust.
    That said, I give the customer some solid info on condition, approximate age, and general class/style of the clock. Then I tell them to google to their hearts content but don't believe more than about half of what you might find. Ha
    Willie X

  6. #6
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    Default Re: How important is provenance to you? (By: Willie X)

    Like David S, I don't really "collect" clocks, though I do have several that I consider keepers. I prefer to restore them and pass them on to people that will enjoy them. As far as provenance, there isn't much that I really trust out there. Much of what i deal in, I buy as estate auctions, so I try to talk to the family to learn what I can about the clock, but don't usually get a lot of information.

    If I can narrow down the date of manufacture, where it was made and of course, by which clock maker, most people are happy with that. I do like the notations on the back of the case from previous repairers. They help date the clock sometimes. I have one now that indicates the dial was replaced... Labor $1.50, cost of the dial, $.50. Originally, the clock sold for $10.50.
    You know you are getting old when everything either dries up or leaks. ( Will Rogers)

  7. #7
    Forums Administrator harold bain's Avatar
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    Default Re: How important is provenance to you? (By: Bogey)

    Provenance that relies on family lore is often seen to be impossible when compared with undeniable facts, when it comes to clocks and watches. If someone tells you their clock was brought over on the Mayflower in 1750 by their grandfather, well, you just know that can't be true.
    harold bain, Member ch 33
    "If it won't "tick",
    let me "tock" to it"

  8. #8
    Registered User Burkhard Rasch's Avatar
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    Default Re: How important is provenance to you? (By: harold bain)

    I´m mostly interested in technics;different escapements,complications,purposes;I´m interested in the many meanders of developement of clocks and watches,so my collection spans from 17th cent. originals to 20th cent. repros,if they are well done.I´m allways interested in the technical,social and local history of a piece,e.g. I took the opportunity of buying an american wooden works clock to read and investigate in these clocks,which are completely unknown on this side of the pond; or I try to learn everything possible about the electromechanic transition clocks of the 40ies till the quarz aera.Except of some clocks and watches I got from friends or family members I don´t know nor care about who owned this item before.If I had a piece owned by a famous person before ,that would change my view,probably...
    Burkhard
    Gigni de nihilo nihil,et nihil in nihilum posse reverti
    (Persius)

  9. #9
    Registered User doug sinclair's Avatar
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    Default Re: How important is provenance to you? (By: Burkhard Rasch)

    I collect more watches than I do clocks. But we do have one clock that is very sentimentally important to us. It is an Ansonia that my wife's grandmother brought from Iowa when she emigrated to Canada before the turn of the 20th century. I have several watches about which I know quite a bit. And these are special. Then there are a few that are quite scarce, and (IMHO) are undervalued, about which I know nothing. These are very special to me as well. A collectible with a story is, in my view, more interesting. I have one watch and archival material that I have been fortunate enough to gather, that I often display in a cabinet by itself. It served for 45 years in the bib overalls of a Canadian Pacific Railroad engineer.

  10. #10
    Registered User Jerry Treiman's Avatar
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    Default Re: How important is provenance to you? (By: doug sinclair)

    I collect watches and find those with a traceable history to be more meaningful to me. I don't expect this history to add any monetary value (unless I discover a famous person or event in its past). The history just adds another, human, dimension to the item. Another aspect of provenance may refer to which previous collections the item has passed through. That is less meaningful to me than the record of prior or original users of the timepiece.
    Jerry Treiman, NAWCC member since 1971
    Charter member of Pocket Horology Chapter 174

  11. #11

    Default Re: How important is provenance to you? (By: Jerry Treiman)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Treiman View Post
    I collect watches and find those with a traceable history to be more meaningful to me. I don't expect this history to add any monetary value (unless I discover a famous person or event in its past). The history just adds another, human, dimension to the item. Another aspect of provenance may refer to which previous collections the item has passed through. That is less meaningful to me than the record of prior or original users of the timepiece.

    I tend to agree Jerry. I have a "train station" clock that I acquired two years ago that I can trace back to the 1970s. The clock was made about 30 years prior to that. I intend to keep it.

    Ron

  12. #12
    Registered user. Glacierman's Avatar
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    Default Re: How important is provenance to you?

    I approach watch collecting more from a museum/archives point of view, as that is in my background, so any history associated with a watch is of great interest, as it makes the watch a part of history and not just a mechanical device. Unfortunately, most of my watches are essentially untraceable as they have only initials on them, although one has two sets of initials with associated dates. Not much to go on.

    However, one watch is different. I have the complete provenance for it. It was purchased direct from the original owner's grand-daughter who was disposing of it because her only child (a daughter) had no interest in it. That in itself amazed me. If my great-grandmother's watch was offered to me, I'd jump on it.

    Oh, well. Not everyone thinks like I do. About the watch: it is an Elgin Grade 223, Model 1, Class 84, manuf ca. 1900 ; Size 0s, 15j, hunter config, nickel, 3/4 plate, stem wound/set, S/N 8773714. The original owner was one Sophie Darbfuss Mueller and she received it in March of 1900 as an 8th wedding anniversary gift from her husband, Rudolph Mueller. It then came to their daughter, Louise and thence to the woman I purchased it from, Sophie's grand-daughter. Ancestry.com helped me fill in some detals about the couple. Rudolph was at various times a bartender, liquor salesman, automobile collector, and after retirement, a Protestant family minister. He died in 1953.

    Sophie was born 1875 in Germany, emigrated in 1887, married Rudolph 19 March 1892 and died 21 Dec 1959 in Sonoma, CA. Sophie & Rudolph lived most of their married life in San Francisco.

    And here is a photo of them:


    This watch is very special to us and we refer to it as "Sophie's Watch," for after all, that is what it is. We just have it in trust.

    You can see the watch here: https://pocketwatchdatabase.com/sear.../elgin/8773714
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Sophie & Rudolph Mueller.jpg 
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    Last edited by MartyR; 03-25-2017 at 05:15 PM. Reason: Removed full-size image
    -- Richard in Hungry Horse
    Horologist-in-training

  13. #13

    Default Re: How important is provenance to you? (By: Glacierman)

    I research the makers as much as possible, and sometimes end up with connections. I have a John Mercer longcase for instance and another by his Master Thomas Barrett.

    I rarely know anything about previous owners, but the makers are easier to trace. In the case of watches where the maker will be unknown/too numerous I like to find out more about the guy behind the signature on the movement.
    Nick, lots to learn, late starter.

  14. #14

    Default Re: How important is provenance to you? (By: novicetimekeeper)

    I have a tallcase clock that showed up at auction many years ago... It had a New Jersey/New York look to it. Dartboard inlay in the base and and oval inlay in the waist door. I tried to win it at auction, and when it failed to make reserve, they announced to just pass the next lot, a painting of the owner..... being parsimonious and not having a catalog in hand, I went up to check the counter catalog and saw that there was an oil painting of the original owner of the clock.

    A few weeks went by and I wondered about the clock, so gave the auction house a call to inquire about it. They said everything was still there, awaiting the consignor retrieving it. I asked about making an offer and encouraged it. So I made my offer for the pair, as the consignor wanted them sold, feigning disappointment that I had to buy a painting I did not want..... of course I did want it and i was successful with my offer.

    The owner was a Moses Winne from Troy, New York, a very early family in the Troy area.

    Ralph

  15. #15

    Default Re: How important is provenance to you? (By: Ralph)

    That would be great to have that. These clocks were incredibly expensive in their day so must have belonged to very wealthy people.

    Only a few of the makers were famous enough to have paintings done of them but the owners would all have had them I suspect.
    Nick, lots to learn, late starter.

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