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  1. #1

    Default E. Kroeber/ Nicholas Mullers & Sons Mantel Clock-Britannia -

    Hi All!
    I hope you can help me!
    When I was 17 years old a man my father was renting a house from had two cars in his barn, a model T and a 1956 Chrysler Windsor.
    Well he wouldn't part with the model T so I got the 1950 Chrysler.
    In the back seat was this clock.
    I said; what about the clock in the back seat ?
    He said your a good kid, It's yours.
    That was in 1987 and the car is long gone.
    An 80 year old drunk driver totaled it in a parking lot while I was eating pizza, but I still have the clock!
    So after all these years I finally decided to fix it up.
    I love history and I would love to know a little more about this clock.
    I am currently having the clock serviced.
    .
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Here is what I know.
    The Antique Mantel's clock topper info reads as followed;
    Nich. Mullers & Sons 1887 Copyright No 870.

    It looks like a young William Shakespeare Statue Possibly could be from Macbeth.
    The label on the bottom says: Britannia E. Kroeber Clock Co. Sole Manufacture.
    The clock topper statue is printed on the back: Nich. Muller's & Sons.1887 below that is says Copyrigthed No 870

    Note!It looks like the word Copyrighted is spelled wrong on the back of the statues cast.

    1. I would like to find out when it was manufactured for public sale?

    2. How many were made?

    3. Who is the topper figure that was sculptured by Nich. Muller's & Sons. in 1887?



    Thank you any help you can give me will be much appreciated.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails S4760326 - Copy.JPG   S4760330 - Copy.JPG   S4770015 - Copy.JPG   S4770022 - Copy.JPG  
    Last edited by autman123; 08-29-2012 at 11:31 PM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: E. Kroeber/ Nicholas Mullers & Sons Mantel Clock-Britannia - (RE: autman123)

    Hello and Welcome to the NAWCC message board.

    If you will look a little closer at the label on the clock you will see that the initial is an "F" which is for Florence. Florence Kroeber's father-in-law was Nicholas Muller. Kroeber used many cases made by Muller and also bought clock movements from many of the then existing New England companies. He also had movements made by special order by some of these companies, Seth Thomas was one. There were several others. As early as 1860 Kroeber was buying some American movements for which he either bought or had cases made. The firm was bankrupt by 1904.

    The primary reference work for Kroeber Clocks is Kroeber Clocks American & Imported by Tran Duy LY, Arlington Books, 2006. This reference is almost 600 pages and has a lot of information. Your "Britannia" clock is not listed but this is not unusual since these books are not all inclusive.

    At the time a clock was purchased there was an option to buy a topper of some kind for the clock. These were mix and match and were not associated with any particular clock. I have not been able to identify your statue although I did find a picture of it in a new book titled, Nicholas Muller Horologist Extraordinare by Arlyn Rath, 2011. The statue was most likely available for sale in 1887 or shortly thereafter. An exact date cannot be given. There are also no production records, so the number of clocks or statues made isn't known.

    The headdress on the statue may be a clue to the region that the statue represents. To me the headdress looks like it could be from India or that region. The feather and what looks like a cloth cap.

    Thanks for sharing your story and posting photos of the clock and topper.

    Best,

    Richard T.

  3. #3

    Default Re: E. Kroeber/ Nicholas Mullers & Sons Mantel Clock-Britannia - (RE: Richard T.)

    Thank you that was some very good information.
    I really appreciate your efforts.
    I have found some pictures of some people wearing this style of hat, if it helps me get closer to identification.
    I still would like to know when it was made, and how many of this style were made if I can.
    Did they spell copyright wrong on the topper ?
    You referenced " Kroeber Clocks American & Imported by Tran Duy LY, Arlington Books, 2006."
    Would "Catalog of Clocks :F. Kroeber Clock Co. in paperback by Chris H. Bailey(Author)" have the same content ?
    I had heard that Nicholas Muller Horologist Extraordinare by Arlyn Rath, 2011 was a good source for the topper.
    It was incorporated as the F. Kroeber Clock Company in 1887 and that year a second New York store was opened in midtown Manhattan.
    Their 1888 catalog of 208 pages illustrated 286 clocks and 43 figurines, over 90% of American manufacture.



    .Click image for larger version. 

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    Thank you again for your efforts.
    Last edited by autman123; 08-30-2012 at 02:02 AM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: E. Kroeber/ Nicholas Mullers & Sons Mantel Clock-Britannia - (RE: autman123)

    Quote:

    1. Did they spell copyright wrong on the topper ?

    Yes, looking at the photo again it looks like they did. I don't think that is of any significance.

    2. You referenced " Kroeber Clocks American & Imported by Tran Duy LY, Arlington Books, 2006."

    As stated in my initial reply, LY's Kroeber book is the most comprehensive work on the Kroeber Co.

    3. Would "Catalog of Clocks :F. Kroeber Clock Co. in paperback by Chris H. Bailey(Author)" have the same content ?

    The work by LY has 584 pages and the compilation by Bailey has 194. The short answer is No.

    4. I had heard that Nicholas Muller Horologist Extraordinare by Arlyn Rath, 2011 was a good source for the topper.


    The book by Rath deals primarily with the clocks by Muller. While many of the clocks are shown with toppers, there is no identification or information about them.



    5. It was incorporated as the F. Kroeber Clock Company in 1887 and that year a second New York store was opened in midtown Manhattan.
    Their 1888 catalog of 208 pages illustrated 286 clocks and 43 figurines, over 90% of American manufacture.

    Yes, that (incorpration date) and much more is contained in the 584 pages of LY's work. I didn't think there was anything that was relevant to your original post.


    6 I still would like to know when it was made, and how many of this style were made if I can.

    Since the clock you posted is not shown in LY's Kroeber book, there is no known way to determine when it was made. A range of 1887 to 1900 would be as close as I could get. Again, there are no records of the production of New England clock companies.

    Best,

    Richard T.

  5. #5

    Default Re: E. Kroeber/ Nicholas Mullers & Sons Mantel Clock-Britannia - (RE: Richard T.)

    Thank you again
    I just wanted to make sure I have exhausted every avenue.
    I was hoping to find out a little more about this individual clock.
    Without complete records and no tracking numbers or dates on the case,and the mixing and matching I guess the history lesson on this clock pretty much over.

  6. #6

    Default Re: E. Kroeber/ Nicholas Mullers & Sons Mantel Clock-Britannia - (RE: autman123)

    I just found out from the repair shop that the clock was purchased originally in 1874, and the topper was added latter in 1887.
    Lucky for me someone wrote on the inside wooden bottom of the clock the date of purchase.
    Again thank you so much for all your help.

  7. #7

    Default Re: E. Kroeber/ Nicholas Mullers & Sons Mantel Clock-Britannia - (RE: autman123)

    Great, Congratulations!

    I'm glad that you found additional information. Quite often there is historical information written somewhere on the clock. It can be on the back of the case, bottom (as you have found) or on a surface that's easily written upon. I really like it when I find an old clock that has a wooden dial and there's a history starting with when it was bought or when it was repaired and continues on.

    I didn't think to mention this possibility before. I recall an American clock with a metal dial that had Chinese or Japanese characters on the back of it. I posted good photos on the message board one evening and the next morning I had a translation of the characters which were Chinese. It was a repair record and although it didn't have a date it still was very interesting.

    Thanks for the update.

    Best,

    Richard T.

  8. #8

    Default Re: E. Kroeber/ Nicholas Mullers & Sons Mantel Clock-Britannia - (RE: autman123)

    Here is a picture of another Britannia sold in 1874.
    You can see the style is the same and so are the feet.
    Only the time piece and the topper seem to be different on the other clock.
    Also my clock has the decorative side pieces.
    I think the thing I like about these clocks is their like build a bear, you know the place you take kids too and they give them a basic Teddy bear and the kid customizes the bear the way they want it.
    Kroeber basically did the same thing with clocks.
    You buy the basic box then add what you want as far as the feet, topper, side pieces,
    time piece, and other decorative choices, that they may have offered.
    And like you said about the Chinese or Japanese characters on the metal dial, you just never know what you might find on one of these clocks.
    That makes each clock unique based on the individual customers taste as well as what parts Florence Kroeber had at the time to sell them.
    Which means there probably aren't to many exactly the same.
    I don't know if you can say they were custom built or not, but the concept is pretty cool , and ahead of its Time!

    sClick image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by autman123; 08-31-2012 at 07:52 PM.

  9. #9

    Default Re: E. Kroeber/ Nicholas Mullers & Sons Mantel Clock-Britannia - (RE: autman123)

    Quote: You buy the basic box then add what you want as far as the feet,topper,side pieces, and maybe your choice of time pieces.

    Not quite, you didn't have those kind of choices when you bought a clock. The choices usually were limited to the type of dial and sash (ring around the dial). The choices did not extend to the type of feet, side trim or actual movement. An open or visible escapement was offered on some higher grade clocks. You mention the feet, the feet have a somewhat distinctive style and would probably be identified on sight as Kroeber feet. They would have been used on many different clock models.

    There were many basic models and they were all the same. They were made by the tens of thousands over a period of years. As previously stated, there are no known production records but the number was high.

    If the second clock that you show does not have a label identifying it as "Britannia" then it isn't. I will look and see if I can identify it.
    If it does have a label identifying it as such something else comes into play. The clock companies repeated model names and often had two or more different clocks with the same name at different time periods.

    Best,

    Richard T.

  10. #10

    Default Re: E. Kroeber/ Nicholas Mullers & Sons Mantel Clock-Britannia - (RE: Richard T.)

    Thank you for clearing that up.
    I notice that many of their clocks have no feet at all, was that a design choice or the customers preference to take them off.
    The fact that they let you chose the topper is still pretty cool, did any other clock company's do that?
    Also did most people prefer roman numerals over standard number or was that even a choice.
    That clock was sold on e bay in March of this year, and I noticed that the minute arm looks like it was missing the short end.
    I read that Collectors should carefully inspect clocks reputed to be made by Kroeber.
    A Kroeber label, dial, or marked Kroeber movement makes a clock desirable as well as costly, but it must be determined that there are no reproduction parts.
    So how do I find out if there are reproductions parts in it?

  11. #11

    Default Re: E. Kroeber/ Nicholas Mullers & Sons Mantel Clock-Britannia - (RE: autman123)

    Feet or no Feet? That was just part of the design. There are probably as many models without feet as there are with feet. There are too many for me to count them If you wanted feet you selected a model with feet, no feet same, select one without feet. I did find the same feet that are on your clock on at least two dozen different models that Kroeber made.

    I don't know at the moment if all of the American clock companies offered clock toppers but quite a few did. There were also side statues, ewers, candle sticks etc. A clock and two "side pieces" is called a garniture . There were also figural clocks that had a base, one or two figures and a clock tower. These were popular stating around 1890 with many being offered in 1894.

    I don't know of any data that exists as to preference regardng the type of numerals on a clock dial. Different clocks were offered with different dials if one wanted Roman, then you would choose a model that had Roman numerals etc...The type dial would have been determined at the factory and quantities of each would have been made if that was an option on a particular model.

    Careful inspection of a clock prior to purchase isn't only necessary with Kroeber but with any clock that you want to buy. I don't know if I'm prepared to say that Kroeber clocks are more desirable than those of Ansonia, Welch, E. Howard and others. Kroeber's movements were made by other makers and installed in their cases.

    "How do I find out if there are reproduction parts in it"? I don't think it's so much a matter of reproduction parts being a part of the actual clock movement. Reproduction movement parts aren't available and if wheels, arbors etc are needed during a repair, they either have to be made or obtained from a donor movement that's identical to the one requiring the part.
    There are "marriages" where a clock movement has been changed and this is usually evident by additional holes in the back of the clock case where the movement mounts.

    The key to the whole thing is knowledge about the items you are interested in. Even experts have been fooled and all of us that do this type thing run that risk. Being able to spot alterations or incorrect parts is something that is gained by years of dealing with clocks and studying and repairing them.

    If a person was interested in a really expensive clock and didn't have the required knowledge or just wanted another opinion, then that's where a true expert is found and asked to look at the clock. Some of the auction houses that deal in these type clocks guarantee their written description and that is a good starting point.

    Below is a photo of a Kroeber figural clock model "Alabama" that I am working on. I put a new finish on because the other one was pretty bad.

    Best,

    Richard T.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 005.jpg  
    Last edited by Richard T.; 08-31-2012 at 10:13 PM.

  12. #12

    Default Re: E. Kroeber/ Nicholas Mullers & Sons Mantel Clock-Britannia - (RE: Richard T.)

    Man! do I love your clock the detail is incredible!.
    What year was it made?
    How long have you had it?
    What time period and event are they depicting ?
    Thank you for sharing the picture......Wow!

  13. #13

    Default Re: E. Kroeber/ Nicholas Mullers & Sons Mantel Clock-Britannia - (RE: autman123)

    I might be wrong but something just ain't jiving here.
    The label on the bottom of my clock was not issued in 1874 according to Antique clocks.
    The label I have was issued between 1877 -1899. See Attachment:
    Then 1874 written on the wood must have been when they made the bottom.
    Here is a picture of the labels in question with the dates issued.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by autman123; 09-01-2012 at 05:20 AM. Reason: Editing

  14. #14
    Forums Administrator harold bain's Avatar
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    Default Re: E. Kroeber/ Nicholas Mullers & Sons Mantel Clock-Britannia - (RE: autman123)

    The date on the bottom is likely a red herring. Anyone at any time could have added that.
    harold bain, Member ch 33
    "If it won't "tick",
    let me "tock" to it"

  15. #15

    Default Re: E. Kroeber/ Nicholas Mullers & Sons Mantel Clock-Britannia - (RE: autman123)

    Quote Originally Posted by autman123 View Post
    Man! do I love your clock the detail is incredible!.
    What year was it made?
    How long have you had it?
    What time period and event are they depicting ?
    Thank you for sharing the picture......Wow!
    Thanks for your comments. The clock is shown in a catalog illustration from 1895. I have had it a few years and need to put it back together after cleaning and doing some minor repairs to the movement. The clock belonged to a friend of mine and belonged to his grandfather. He had no real attachment to it and no place for it so I became its' keeper.

    I don't know who the figures are depicting but they are the same as a pair called "Don Juan" and "Don Caesar" used by the Ansonia Clock Co . They are probably made by the same company because they are identical except for Kroeber's switching the hats on the figures. I am missing a sword and a feather.

    Best,

    Richard T.

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