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  1. #1
    Registered User George Nelson's Avatar
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    Default Barnes, Bartholomew and Co. Triple Decker

    Hello, Clock-lovers!

    Forgive the length of this posting, but I am SO excited!

    I can't believe my wonderful luck! I was happily driving to the grocery store when I came across a just-opening yard sale. I stopped, of course, but not seeing anything interesting, I casually asked if there were any clocks for sale. The middle aged woman who was setting everything up perked up considerably at my question.

    She said she had one in the basement that was too ugly to put in the house. She said it had been in the family since it was new, "sometime in the 1920s, I think..." She hadn't planned on dragging it out of the basement, but said I could go and look at it if I didn't mind dark basements. I was more than happy to go see it, and when I did, I couldn't believe my eyes! There, in the farthest corner of a rather dark little storage room, sat my beautiful "new" clock.

    Telling her it was much older than the 1920s, I timidly asked what she wanted for it. She seemed really embarrassed and said "Could you give $25? I don't know if or how it works." Shocked, I didn't answer right away, and she then said "How about twenty?"

    Finding my voice, I told her that I was a clock collector, and that the clock was worth much more than she was asking. (I never want to take advantage of anybody, and was prepared to offer her as much as I could afford, but even that would not have been a fair value.) She laughed, and said that all she wanted was the $20, as she hated it and would be thrilled to be rid of it. She told me that it had been in her family for forever, nobody liked it enough to display it in their homes, and it had spent almost all of its time in basements or attics for as long as she could remember.

    We talked back and forth, with me again telling her it was more valuable than she realized, but when she learned it was not worth $10,000 or anything like that, she refused to take any more than the original asking price of $25.

    Needless to say, I whipped out my wallet, and pressed $85 into her hand, all of the cash I had at the time. She promptly returned three twenties. I couldn't believe it! Returning the extra bills, she warned me that my wife would be really mad at my purchase, and most likely would not let me bring it into the house. I just laughed- my wife is wonderful, and tolerates my ten thousand clocks most graciously.

    Completely forgetting about the needed groceries, I loaded up the clock, weights, pendulum bob, door key and winding crank into the car and drove home at 90 miles an hour. I couldn't wait to get home to see all about my "gift", and I really could not believe that all of the accessories that are so often lost were still with it in a plastic bag. Wow!

    Anyway, I located a shelf in the attic, installed it on the wall, and went to work. Removing the wooden face, I oiled the pivots and gave the movement a good once-over. It is a bit dirty and needs a good cleaning, but everything seemed to be in good order. I timidly wound it for the first time in what must surely be sixty years or more, fearing a broken weight cord or worse, the horrible sound of stripping gears. Thankfully, all went well during the procedure and the heavy weights held nicely. I gently gave the seemingly original pendulum bob a gentle push, and I began hearing that wonderful, soft ticking sound that we all love so dearly. By gosh, the old girl was working, and was even in perfect beat!

    Still a bit cautious and uncertain while embracing my good fortune, I moved the minute hand to four o'clock, and the softest, most melodious sound came from within. The ancient gong was a shockingly pleasant- deep, resonate, slow and even and without a trace of sympathetic vibration from any internal parts! Marvelous!

    As you can see in the pictures, my newest family member is an eight day, Barnes, Bartholomew and Company clock, with a nice brass strap movement and beautiful carved eagle on top. Everything seems original, and the old girl seems to have been well taken care of, considering that nobody seemed to have wanted her. I did see that at sometime in the past, someone cared enough for it to be sure it was passed down in the family, as the back of the dial has the following written on it: "Litchburg June 11, 1911. This clock at my death is to be the property of Emma T Holl--------h and Walter W Da-----n. (I've not given complete names so as to insure privacy, although Emma and Walter are likely long since passed.)

    I find it a bit unusual that the clock was intended to go to two different people, apparantly not a married couple. Perhaps they were engaged at the time?

    Thanks for reading my lengthy story, but I just had to share with everyone. As I get to know her, I'm sure I'll have questions, which I'll be sure to post here. I'd love to hear of any similar "good luck" stories from my fellow collectors. Has anyone else stumbled upon a great bargain out there?

    Best to all,

    George Nelson, one very happy clock collector
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Gong.jpg   Barnes Bartholomew and Company Clock.jpg   Front of Dial.jpg   Back of Dial.jpg   Right Facing Eagle Splat.jpg  

    Middle Glass.jpg   Bottom Glass.jpg   Movement.jpg   Label.jpg  

  2. #2

    Default Re: Barnes, Bartholomew and Co. Triple Decker (By: George Nelson)

    Quote Originally Posted by George Nelson View Post
    Hello, Clock-lovers!

    Forgive the length of this posting, but I am SO excited!

    I can't believe my wonderful luck! I was happily driving to the grocery store when I came across a just-opening yard sale. I stopped, of course, but not seeing anything interesting, I casually asked if there were any clocks for sale. The middle aged woman who was setting everything up perked up considerably at my question.

    She said she had one in the basement that was too ugly to put in the house. She said it had been in the family since it was new, "sometime in the 1920s, I think..." She hadn't planned on dragging it out of the basement, but said I could go and look at it if I didn't mind dark basements. I was more than happy to go see it, and when I did, I couldn't believe my eyes! There, in the farthest corner of a rather dark little storage room, sat my beautiful "new" clock.

    Telling her it was much older than the 1920s, I timidly asked what she wanted for it. She seemed really embarrassed and said "Could you give $25? I don't know if or how it works." Shocked, I didn't answer right away, and she then said "How about twenty?"

    Finding my voice, I told her that I was a clock collector, and that the clock was worth much more than she was asking. (I never want to take advantage of anybody, and was prepared to offer her as much as I could afford, but even that would not have been a fair value.) She laughed, and said that all she wanted was the $20, as she hated it and would be thrilled to be rid of it. She told me that it had been in her family for forever, nobody liked it enough to display it in their homes, and it had spent almost all of its time in basements or attics for as long as she could remember.

    We talked back and forth, with me again telling her it was more valuable than she realized, but when she learned it was not worth $10,000 or anything like that, she refused to take any more than the original asking price of $25.

    Needless to say, I whipped out my wallet, and pressed $85 into her hand, all of the cash I had at the time. She promptly returned three twenties. I couldn't believe it! Returning the extra bills, she warned me that my wife would be really mad at my purchase, and most likely would not let me bring it into the house. I just laughed- my wife is wonderful, and tolerates my ten thousand clocks most graciously.

    Completely forgetting about the needed groceries, I loaded up the clock, weights, pendulum bob, door key and winding crank into the car and drove home at 90 miles an hour. I couldn't wait to get home to see all about my "gift", and I really could not believe that all of the accessories that are so often lost were still with it in a plastic bag. Wow!

    Anyway, I located a shelf in the attic, installed it on the wall, and went to work. Removing the wooden face, I oiled the pivots and gave the movement a good once-over. It is a bit dirty and needs a good cleaning, but everything seemed to be in good order. I timidly wound it for the first time in what must surely be sixty years or more, fearing a broken weight cord or worse, the horrible sound of stripping gears. Thankfully, all went well during the procedure and the heavy weights held nicely. I gently gave the seemingly original pendulum bob a gentle push, and I began hearing that wonderful, soft ticking sound that we all love so dearly. By gosh, the old girl was working, and was even in perfect beat!

    Still a bit cautious and uncertain while embracing my good fortune, I moved the minute hand to four o'clock, and the softest, most melodious sound came from within. The ancient gong was a shockingly pleasant- deep, resonate, slow and even and without a trace of sympathetic vibration from any internal parts! Marvelous!

    As you can see in the pictures, my newest family member is an eight day, Barnes, Bartholomew and Company clock, with a nice brass strap movement and beautiful carved eagle on top. Everything seems original, and the old girl seems to have been well taken care of, considering that nobody seemed to have wanted her. I did see that at sometime in the past, someone cared enough for it to be sure it was passed down in the family, as the back of the dial has the following written on it: "Litchburg June 11, 1911. This clock at my death is to be the property of Emma T Holl--------h and Walter W Da-----n. (I've not given complete names so as to insure privacy, although Emma and Walter are likely long since passed.)

    I find it a bit unusual that the clock was intended to go to two different people, apparantly not a married couple. Perhaps they were engaged at the time?

    Thanks for reading my lengthy story, but I just had to share with everyone. As I get to know her, I'm sure I'll have questions, which I'll be sure to post here. I'd love to hear of any similar "good luck" stories from my fellow collectors. Has anyone else stumbled upon a great bargain out there?

    Best to all,

    George Nelson, one very happy clock collector
    That's a wonderful clock at a great price.

    Enjoy!

    RM

  3. #3
    Registered user. ballistarius's Avatar
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    Default Re: Barnes, Bartholomew and Co. Triple Decker (By: George Nelson)

    Wow, that is really unbelievable bargain! (and one of the few times you'll find a seller bargaining AGAINST you)
    I had never realized of those glazed windows for showing the movement, but, to be honest, if I know a little bit on american clocks, that little bit is devoted just to woodworks!

    Congrats!

    Aitor
    It's all an accident, an accident of hands. Mine, others, all without mind, from one extreme to another, but neither works nor will ever. Steiner

  4. #4
    Registered User George Nelson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Barnes, Bartholomew and Co. Triple Decker

    RM, Aitor, and All-

    Thanks so much for the kind words. I am really excited about this find. Just as a clarification, the little piece in the face is a piece of sliding tin, not actually glazed. I should have specified that in my description-sorry about that. It does look like a mirror in the pictures...

    Now, I do have a few questions as my research about this clock begins:

    1. Almost all of the clocks I have looked at with a carved eagle show it facing left. Mine is facing right. Is there any historical reason or perspective for that?

    2. One of the books from Kenneth D Roberts, either the Eli Terry volume or the one on Joseph Ives, mentions that the coiled "bell" was patented in 1838, yet the Spittler and Bailey book, American Clocks Volume Three, says that Barnes, Bartholomew and Co. concern was in business from 1833-1836. My clock has an unmolested iron based coiled gong, apparently original, as there are no other mounting holes under the base. What is the explanation for this contradiction? Is this an example of the use of a pre-patent coiled bell or gong?

    3. My clock has brass cables for the weights. Should I change this out to something a little less abrasive? Is there any way that brass cables could have originally been used?

    With the solution to those three questions, I'll be a very happy man!

    Thanks to all,

    George Nelson
    Last edited by George Nelson; 03-18-2017 at 08:26 AM. Reason: Add a question

  5. #5
    Registered User Jim DuBois's Avatar
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    Default Re: Barnes, Bartholomew and Co. Triple Decker (By: George Nelson)

    From Ken Roberts book on Ives....
    "Previous to 1834 or 1835 no other kind (iron 'cup bells') had been used. Mr. James
    Breckenridge . . . then a machinist and tool maker for Mr. Chauncey Jerome conceived
    the idea of a steel wire bell and made the first one known as 'cathedral gong' .... Had
    Mr. Breckenridge secured a patent for his invention, he easily might now have been
    more than a millionaire."

    The changeover to gongs from bells was almost immediate across the Conn area clockmakers. I have tried to pin it down to a specific year via labels of clocks with printers names and the like, and it looks like the best done so far is 1835 where there are known relationships via the parties that suggest that date. So your clock falls right into that range I would think.

    As to brass cable, I suspect brass cable in clocks is more a 20th century solution to clocks. While wire rope was a circa 1831 invention, there is no record I have found of it being used in clocks made in America prior to about 1880. I suspect your clock would have had catgut originally. I find either catgut or nylon cord to be perfectly acceptable for your clock, but given its apparent originality I would use gut if it were mine...just seems more appropriate to me
    Last edited by Jim DuBois; 03-18-2017 at 08:46 AM.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Barnes, Bartholomew and Co. Triple Decker (By: Jim DuBois)

    You should have saved this post for the first of April . No one would believe the story or the condition of the clock relegated to cellars for generations . Thanks for sharing a cute story !

  7. #7
    Registered user. ballistarius's Avatar
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    Default Re: Barnes, Bartholomew and Co. Triple Decker (By: George Nelson)

    Quote Originally Posted by George Nelson View Post
    RM, Aitor, and All-

    Thanks so much for the kind words. I am really excited about this find. Just as a clarification, the little piece in the face is a piece of sliding tin, not actually glazed. I should have specified that in my description-sorry about that. It does look like a mirror in the pictures...
    George,
    They took a lot of work making that window and the side channels. If it s just closed by a plain piece of tinplate, what was the window intended for? I'm rather puzzled...

    Aitor
    It's all an accident, an accident of hands. Mine, others, all without mind, from one extreme to another, but neither works nor will ever. Steiner

  8. #8
    Registered User Jim DuBois's Avatar
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    Default Re: Barnes, Bartholomew and Co. Triple Decker (By: ballistarius)

    Quote Originally Posted by ballistarius View Post
    George,
    They took a lot of work making that window and the side channels. If it s just closed by a plain piece of tinplate, what was the window intended for? I'm rather puzzled...

    Aitor
    A sliding door with a channel in the dial was fairly common for empire cased clocks in this period. Birge and Mallory did a lot of them this way. Often the panel is a mirror. I sent a John Birge empire cased triple decker with the sliding panel home yesterday. The alleged purpose was to allow the clock owner to annually apply a bit of oil to the verge. It was more of a marketing ploy than fulfilling any technical needs. They came and went in less than 3 or 4 years IIRC.

  9. #9
    Registered User George Nelson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Barnes, Bartholomew and Co. Triple Decker (By: Jim DuBois)

    Jim, Senhalls, Ballistarius and All,

    Once again, you have demonstrated the value of this wonderful discussion board and my longtime membership in the NAWCC! Let me address your comments:

    1. Jim, thanks for the accurate information on the introduction of the "cathedral gong". This is what I get for quoting from memory! I should have referenced my copy of the book, as it is sitting in the bookcase right next to my desk. For some reason, I was quite sure of my "facts memory" concerning this- perhaps my advanced age is catching up with me. Anyway, I'm much relieved that the originality of the gong in my clock has been verified. Your help and incredible knowledge is appreciated, as always. You are such a help with these discussions. Today, I'll obtain several rolls of catgut for my clocks. I have a Vienna Regulator style of clock that needs to be restrung, and I'll get some of a different diameter for my new Barnes, Bartholomew and Co. addition as well. I was hoping that the brass cable was not original, as it has a tendency to "nest" which is quite annoying!

    2. Senhalls, I was quite amused by your "first of April" comment. Every once in a while over my collecting years, I have encountered a clock with an interesting story. One of them can be found in this discussion:

    http://mb.nawcc.org/showthread.php?1...ablet-Question

    In actively reading and participating in the discussions here, I've found that there are quite a few stories like mine. Don't we all love our wonderful old clocks?

    3. Ballistius, thanks for your question. Jim has provided another of his most complete answers about this. I've seen these openings, mostly found on double or triple decker case styles frequently. I quite agree with Jim's comments about them being a marketing ploy, as the little pieces of glass or tin do not open conveniently, and will not stay up so as to oil the now-revealed verge. If you look closely at the back of this clock's dial, you will see that the opening is rather crudely done, and almost appears to have been an afterthought. Not really practical, but an interesting part of history, nonetheless... I believe the tin piece in my clock is original due to its size and age, but the opening could have been covered by a small mirror which had broken over the years.

    Everyone, thanks so much for the discussions and information! Now, all that remains is the question of the direction the eagle carved into the splat faces. Anyone with any thoughts or information about that?

    My very best to all,

    George

  10. #10
    Registered user. ballistarius's Avatar
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    Default Re: Barnes, Bartholomew and Co. Triple Decker (By: Jim DuBois)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim DuBois View Post
    A sliding door with a channel in the dial was fairly common for empire cased clocks in this period. Birge and Mallory did a lot of them this way. Often the panel is a mirror. I sent a John Birge empire cased triple decker with the sliding panel home yesterday. The alleged purpose was to allow the clock owner to annually apply a bit of oil to the verge. It was more of a marketing ploy than fulfilling any technical needs. They came and went in less than 3 or 4 years IIRC.
    Many thanks, Jim.
    I could have never imagined that. I hope that the increase in sales did for the increase in production costs...

    Aitor
    It's all an accident, an accident of hands. Mine, others, all without mind, from one extreme to another, but neither works nor will ever. Steiner

  11. #11
    Registered User Jim DuBois's Avatar
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    Default Re: Barnes, Bartholomew and Co. Triple Decker (By: George Nelson)

    Hey George, thanks for the good words. Now for the acid test....would you like to double your money on that clock? More than happy to send you a check for $40 and if the truth be known I might be pushed to $60!

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Barnes, Bartholomew and Co. Triple Decker (By: George Nelson)

    Wonderful clock and what great condition!
    Ray Rice

  13. #13
    Registered User blindraccoon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Barnes, Bartholomew and Co. Triple Decker (By: George Nelson)

    OMG!!!! Your newly 'found' clock is sooooo beautiful! I just love all the fine details about how this exceptional old clock came to live with you. What a great story that you should print out and put in an envelope marked Barnes, Bartholomew & Co. Triple Decker Clock. 'Lucky' is an understatement
    Blindraccoon ~ Laurie

  14. #14

    Default Re: Barnes, Bartholomew and Co. Triple Decker (By: blindraccoon)

    Nice find George, your not Irish are you?

  15. #15
    Registered User George Nelson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Barnes, Bartholomew and Co. Triple Decker (By: sylvester12)

    Hi to All!

    Everyone's most kind words are so appreciated. Let me address each comment...

    Jim, your simply spectacular offer to allow me to more than double my money is being given all of the due consideration it is worth! I'll be sure to let you know my decision in about ten years
    or so.

    Raymond, thanks so much for you nice comment. I was quite lucky to stumble upon that one!

    Laurie (Blindraccoon), Your kind words are appreciated as well. With all of my clocks, I do indeed keep an envelope inside each, with all of the message board comments and information within, so as to allow the next owner to know as much about it as possible. As we all know, our clocks are ours for just a while, and hopefully will go to new owners who love them as much as we do when the time comes. I also keep a master notebook (VERY full at this point) with additional copies of the information in each envelope along with general research I have done regarding early clock manufacturing. I have so much fun from these activities, and when I'm spending time with my clocks it is almost like I've died and gone to heaven.

    And, Sylvester12, funny you should ask if I am Irish, for indeed I am! I am adopted, so know nothing at all of my birth parents, but my adoptive parents, who got me when I was but three months old 62 years ago, always told me I was Irish. That fact was verified when I took advantage of a special from Ancestory.Com, who verified that I am almost 75% Irish! I can't understand why I do not like corned beef and cabbage.

    Again, my friends, thanks for the help, information and encouragement. I'm off to restring the old girl with some catgut, per Jim's suggestion. I LOVE working on my clocks, and also love that stuffy old smell that they give off- sure evidence of everything they have seen during their lifetimes.

    My very best to you all,

    George Nelson

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