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  1. #1

    Default Sad and Happy with the low prices at the auctions

    Other members have commented before about the drop in prices for vintage and antique clocks. Yes the very high end clocks still fetch a good price but I see alot of average and above average clocks go for so little at my local auctions. Everything from tubular clocks tall case clocks to very nice mantel clocks have fallen off by about 25-30% from just a couple years ago. In some ways this is great for buyer and collectors... but also sad that maybe people will start junking old clocks because of the low selling point. Just wish I had more room to collect...

  2. #2

    Default Re: Sad and Happy with the low prices at the auctions (By: timepast)

    The impetus for this post was a federal reproduction of a 19th century american tall case clock with amazing inlays and a beautifully proportioned cased which went for $130 and a Quezal leaded stained glass lamp shade which sold for $20 with a similar was appraised for thousands on the Antique road show..

  3. #3

    Default Re: Sad and Happy with the low prices at the auctions (By: timepast)

    auction prices for all sorts are really low these days. People flock to places like IKEA when beautiful furniture made by craftsmen can be bought for so little at auction.

    I would not be a collector of longcase were it not for the low prices, and even my first purchase has fallen in value since I bought it but I knew less then than I know now and have been a bit sharper since then.

    I still see clocks at dealers priced so high I can't believe they will ever sell, some people are finding it hard to adjust.
    Nick, lots to learn, late starter.

  4. #4
    Registered user. shimmystep's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sad and Happy with the low prices at the auctions (By: novicetimekeeper)

    I agree Timepast, the current market is likely to lead to good clocks being dumped. We have a fairly healthy car boot culture over here so I like to think many will be sold there, but increasingly the cost of service or restoration makes less sense to clock buyers/owners as their market value drops.

    As Nick has mentioned, antique dealers still try and get high retail prices, and I also wonder how they'll sell them like that, but at the same time I feel that in some ways that might try and maintain some market value on clocks in general.
    shimmystep.

  5. #5
    Registered User Jim DuBois's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sad and Happy with the low prices at the auctions (By: shimmystep)

    After collecting clocks since 1970 it is pretty amazing to see prices today being similar to what they were back then, on many clocks. My restoration customers (dealers) have just about all given up on paying for any major restoration work. I am still doing some repair and restoration for some serious collectors but even that has dropped off. I have in the last year been given a number of clocks needing this or that, frequently very little needed, but the owner just says "keep it, not worth the cost of repairing." And often they are correct. We see many clocks being parted out on the big auction site (and others) as they will bring far more as parts than as a whole clock. Really sad and with the IKEA / disposable mentality society of today I don't see any near resurgence of the market for many antiques, clocks incuded. I am seeing good to better antique furniture bringing 10 cents on the dollar of what it brought 20-30 years ago.... really great stuff still will bring decent money on ocassion....

    Prices of clocks really didn't start their rise stateside until the mid to late '50's. And then prices went up pretty fast. I recall one of the founding members of the NAWCC telling me the most he ever paid for a clock was $3.50. He did most of his collecting in the '30's and '40's. He must have had 250 clocks and we were in the midst of them when he made that claim...and many of them by then (1975 +/-) were $500-$1000 clocks, or more.
    Last edited by Jim DuBois; 06-16-2017 at 06:54 AM. Reason: add thoughts re market

  6. #6

    Default Re: Sad and Happy with the low prices at the auctions (By: Jim DuBois)

    The clock breakers break my heart. I know one and he originally justified what he does as they are marriages any way, but I and others have challenged him over original longcase that are absolutely correct that he has broken for parts. He just does it to make more money

    I even offered to save one by offering him a complete price but he turned it down. He actually got less for the component parts than I offered but he just shrugs and carries on.
    Nick, lots to learn, late starter.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Sad and Happy with the low prices at the auctions (By: novicetimekeeper)

    I can't help but feel a tad despondent over the continued downturn in clock values. My modest collection, I'm sure, will have suffered as most others particularly as I have purchsed some from dealers already restored. As alluded to above this downturn is reflected in the values of brown furniture, much of which are unique, craftsmen produced articles which will, given tlc be around for another couple of centuries assuming our successors do not succumb to "old is worthless" point of view.

    Whilst fashions come and go in a natural rhythm, I personally do not expect prices to rise any time soon as modern generations have been conditioned into discarding old for new irrespective of merit and in contraflow to the ideology of recycling to "save the planet".

    I am not confident that my beloved clocks will be cherished after my leaving this mortal coil and it hurts a lot when I consider the love, appreciation and hours spent at the bench to bring them to a condition where they perform as well as they did when they left their makers. A visit to any antique or clock fair says all when observations show the average age of visitors and traders to be, shall we say of "senior" years. I accept that maybe I generalise and I will take criticism on the chin but I can only speak from my own point of view.

    On the positive side I rather hope that I have a few more years of clock reairing and restoration in me yet and whatever may happen outside my workshop will not affect my enjoyment of my preferred occupier of time. I expect that my comments will be challenged and others will doubtlessly point to examples of skilled younger lads and lasses keenly performing miracles with modern machinery and clear eyes and hand co-ordination and I sincerely hope that our trade/hobby is in their safe hands. The problem is finding such folk.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Sad and Happy with the low prices at the auctions (By: Snapper)

    I was in the antique business for many years, and observed that people wanted what they remember seeing in Grandma's house. It's a "cherished memories" thing that drives the sale. However, my generation did not typically have mechanical clocks in their homes (except Grandfather and cuckoo clocks), so the younger people now don't have those memories to inspire nostalgia. Therefore, the old clocks we love are not in their sights for purchasing.
    A man with a clock always knows the time. A man with two clocks is never sure.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Sad and Happy with the low prices at the auctions

    Quote Originally Posted by timepast View Post
    Other members have commented before about the drop in prices for vintage and antique clocks. Yes the very high end clocks still fetch a good price but I see alot of average and above average clocks go for so little at my local auctions. Everything from tubular clocks tall case clocks to very nice mantel clocks have fallen off by about 25-30% from just a couple years ago. In some ways this is great for buyer and collectors... but also sad that maybe people will start junking old clocks because of the low selling point. Just wish I had more room to collect...

    I have found that current prices are a very mixed bag with the overwhelming trend towards lower.

    In some instances, I would be thrilled to get 70-75% of what I paid some years ago at the top of the market. For some clocks and antiques, the drop off has been astoundingly precipitous. We're talking in some instances 5-10 cents on the dollar. And not because it was bad stuff in terms of authenticity or condition. No one wants it. Gingerbreads, school house clocks, ogees, calendars and a lot of much better quality clocks...can't give 'em away.

    A lot of furniture has taken an absolute beating. For example, I've attended auctions where real American Chippendale country side chairs-singles, pairs, sets-can't even get an opening bid. Slant front desks. Again, unless special, can't give them away. American Windsor chairs. Again, unless really special (not too long ago I saw a pair that the pezzonovante decided were for whatever reason were "ooooh gracious so special" bring $50K) no money. I can go on and on. That's true of many things that I remember not long ago were > $1000, now struggling to make an opening bid.

    I do think it is a bit too facile to blame an Ikea mentality. There has been a real change in tastes and thus what are now considered objects of desire. Look at the prices for good "mid-century (20th that is) modern" furniture and decorative arts. Some of that stuff is bringing prices that equal or eclipse what traditional "brown furniture" and antiques once brought. I have no trouble admitting to liking a lot of it myself.

    The millennials who would be the next in line are also facing a very different world than I and my contemporaries faced. A good job is now considered being a barista at Bigbucks Coffee and they're living in their old rooms at mom's and dad's house as they try to pay off mortgage size student loans. You're not going to consider buying a tall case clock under those circumstances.

    Some is functionality. Going back to slant fronts. Not conducive to using a desk top computer so they fell out of fashion. With smaller tablets, they might come back. I remember when armoires were sought as entertainment centers. Well, they're in the terlet now that people hang their 64 inch flat screens prominently in a room the way one might have once displayed an important painting.

    Finally, so many of us collectors are aging and downsizing. Few are in buy mode and many want to sell. It's creating a glut of stuff that was bought at high prices and often, I hate to say, wasn't very good.

    The world has changed and that stuff it NOT coming back.

    RM
    Last edited by rmarkowitz1_cee4a1; 06-16-2017 at 12:34 PM.

  10. #10
    Registered User George Nelson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sad and Happy with the low prices at the auctions (By: rmarkowitz1_cee4a1)

    RM,

    As usual, your posts are both enjoyable and informative. You make some very good, intelligent points about today's prices, and they make good sense. Shutterbug, your points are very well taken aso. I am always so very amazed at how smart our contributors are.

    As for me, I never invest in items that have a history of unstable values for profit or security. I collect clocks and other antiques for the interest and history alone, which sort of makes me a bit different from other collectors. RM, I suspect that you are a bit like me in that you collect for the history and interest, rather than as an investment. Collecting in this way will often allow the person acquiring a piece a measure of comfort in that there is no worry about future rises in value. He/she acquires simply because they want it, and pay a price that is worth it to them. When collecting is over, I plan to pass my collection on to someone who will appreciate it like I do/did.

    Best to all,

    George
    Time is a great story teller... Irish Proverb

  11. #11

    Default Re: Sad and Happy with the low prices at the auctions

    Quote Originally Posted by George Nelson View Post
    RM,

    As usual, your posts are both enjoyable and informative. You make some very good, intelligent points about today's prices, and they make good sense. Shutterbug, your points are very well taken aso. I am always so very amazed at how smart our contributors are.

    As for me, I never invest in items that have a history of unstable values for profit or security. I collect clocks and other antiques for the interest and history alone, which sort of makes me a bit different from other collectors. RM, I suspect that you are a bit like me in that you collect for the history and interest, rather than as an investment. Collecting in this way will often allow the person acquiring a piece a measure of comfort in that there is no worry about future rises in value. He/she acquires simply because they want it, and pay a price that is worth it to them. When collecting is over, I plan to pass my collection on to someone who will appreciate it like I do/did.

    Best to all,

    George
    Thank you.

    I have collected for the reasons you state, no doubt.

    But it would be an added benefit if I could at least break even in the end as I do have a fair amount tied up the stuff at this point.

    RM

  12. #12
    Forums Administrator harold bain's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sad and Happy with the low prices at the auctions (By: rmarkowitz1_cee4a1)

    Quote Originally Posted by rmarkowitz1_cee4a1 View Post
    Thank you.

    I have collected for the reasons you state, no doubt.

    But it would be an added benefit if I could at least break even in the end as I do have a fair amount tied up the stuff at this point.

    RM
    RM, I'm sure you will break even at the end, as no one leaves this world with more than they came with
    harold bain, Member ch 33
    "If it won't "tick",
    let me "tock" to it"

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Sad and Happy with the low prices at the auctions (By: George Nelson)

    I have collected based on what I like and what I currently have and, of course, price. I don't have two clocks that are alike. If I see something that I don't have and it is a reasonable price (to me) I will buy it. I have more than I should have, but not enough to satisfy me. I have three sons. Only one has 'claimed' a clock when I leave this world. It was my first clock, a grandfather that I put together from a case purchased at auction and a movement I picked up someplace years before that. I have many that are far better then that one but it is the one that was outside his room from when he was a baby and that's only one he wants. My middle son has a granddaughter clock that I bought at an online auction and turned out to be something I didn't really want but he liked it, so he has it. Again, I have many far better but he likes it for some reason. My oldest has no interest in any of them. I have been asked by my family to document them all, including estimated worth. I have documented maker and age as best I can and only included which ones were 'most valuable' (as compared to the rest), not estimated worth. Also included my favorites, just in case its means anything, ha!

    I have tried to impart some knowledge on my sons as to the history and intricacies of clocks but I get the standard response of 'winding them is a pain'. I have imagined my collection will either be sold for next to nothing or end up in the garbage some day if I'm gone. As the time gets closer I will just start letting them go for whatever I can get for them and hopefully to someone that will appreciate them (or at least give me that impression).

    EDIT: My oldest just came over for a visit with his friend and his girlfriend (all around 28 yrs old). He showed them my office where my clocks are and she said she loved them!! Just for fun I asked if she wanted one, would love for her to have one since she seemed to appreciate them. Take your pick, mantle, wall, grandfather.....'thanks but I have no place to put one'. Cant even give them away. Sigh.

  14. #14
    Registered user. Chris Radano's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sad and Happy with the low prices at the auctions (By: isgus)

    A couple thoughts and observations:

    If clocks are being parted out, and the parts are selling, is this really so terrible? The parts are then in theory being used where needed. Personally I don't like good clocks being parted out, but perhaps it's not the worst thing that can happen.

    Sure not many people are interested in old clocks, for many and various reasons. But, there are more people now than ever. Now, as in the past, collecting clocks and maintaining them is not for everyone.

    There will always be people interested in antiques, and antique machinery will always have some interest. Interest will never spread to the masses.

    I am frankly uninterested and underwhelmed in most of what I see available. Could it be most of the good stuff is either in people's collections, or not being sold unless prices climb somewhat?

  15. #15
    Registered user. Chris Radano's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sad and Happy with the low prices at the auctions

    A couple more observations: There have been recent auctions, in the USA as well as other countries, where very good examples of collectable clocks were sold. The prices have been somewhat healthy. Not top prices, but in general not bad. That applies to intermediate to advanced collector level clocks only.

    Since the internet has been available in the last 15-20 years, it has affected clock prices... in ways maybe we are beginning to understand, and seem to be now considered normal. More people are looking for bargains. Online auctions, at their inception, increased demand. But lately auction houses have raised their buyer's premiums to now 18-25%, many times 28%, is now considered average. This, coupled with shipping costs, has offset demand. all this is probably affecting prices.
    Last edited by Chris Radano; 06-17-2017 at 05:17 AM.

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