Are there any manufacturers you particularly avoid adding to your collection?

Discussion in 'General Clock Discussions' started by Isaac, May 29, 2020.

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  1. Isaac

    Isaac Registered User

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    For instance, are there any clock manufacturers that you avoid when looking to add to your collection? (Can be American, German, French, etc).

    I'll get it started. Ingraham, Sessions, and Gilbert.

    Ingraham - although they weathered out the depression much better than other clock companies, most of their clocks were pretty baseline and didn't have substantial movements.

    Sessions - Weak click ratchet assembly seems to be a common issue with the standard T&S movement. Their 2 train WM clocks are a nightmare to understand when you have your first go at them.

    Gilbert - Cracked motion works (although I do like some of their clocks, such as the Bellwood and the Curfew).
     
  2. chimeclockfan

    chimeclockfan Registered User
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    I tend to avoid Hermle due to unsatisfactory movement durability, but I'd probably concede if the chimes sound real nice. Anything with batteries is usually a no-go.
     
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  3. Kevin W.

    Kevin W. Registered User
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    Syrocco, not worthy to me. Gilbert, unless a calendar movement. And Sessions, not a mantel clock, usually require alot of work. And i agree too about Hermle.
     
  4. leeinv66

    leeinv66 Moderator
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    No. I buy close that I like to look at, not by who made them. I also very rarely buy a clock that works. I enjoy restoring them, so if I have to replace a click, cannon pinion or do some pivot work, that's fine by me. I will say I think you are being too hard on Gilbert, Sessions and Ingraham clocks. Most are 100 years old or better and they are still around. I hope I manage to prove to be that inferior!
     
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  5. Rockin Ronnie

    Rockin Ronnie Registered User
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    Daniel Dakota or most everything from China and Korea. Powerful springs that will potentially explode. If there are exceptions, please let me know!

    Ron
     
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  6. rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

    rmarkowitz1_cee4a1 Registered User
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    I suspect your impressions are based upon the 20th century products of Ingraham and Gilbert. By that time, these companies were in decline as was the quality of their products. Same for other once great makers like Seth Thomas.

    In the 19th century, the various Ingraham firms made some wonderful clocks that with some TLC are still running today.

    Gilbert made clocks in the 19th century as well and a similar statement may be made about them.

    Sessions, well, it was started in about 1903 from what was left of E.N. Welch.

    Though there are most definitely notable exceptions, it is why I generally avoid most 20th century clocks. They represent the sometimes sad last chapter of once great American companies whose products were sold world wide. They often haven't much to tell us about the development of America's clock industry.

    RM
     
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  7. Jim DuBois

    Jim DuBois Registered User
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    My area of interest is American clocks made before the civil war. While there are 2nd rate makers, or downright shysters existing from early American vintage clocks, even their products can be of interest.

    As RM suggests by the turn of the century it became mostly about cheap and quickly made. There are some 20th-century clocks that are worth pursuing and collecting, but many are not. As stated above my list of to be avoided would include Ingraham, Sessions, and Gilbert, most everything from China and Korea, just about anything chain drive, anything with plastic parts, and most clocks where hundreds can be found with little effort.
     
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  8. Walt Wallgren

    Walt Wallgren Registered User
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    Like everybody else, I stay away from China and Korea. I'm not particularly a fan of HAC although I do have one or 2. I am much more accepting of Gilbert than most. My first clock was a Gilbert Observatory and it is an excellent timekeeper. With a few exceptions, my entire collection is before WW1, and mostly from the civil war era forward although I do have a few going back to the 1830s. I do shy away from Sessions and many of the Ingraham but there are a few that I consider OK.
     
  9. claussclocks

    claussclocks Registered User
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    I have a representative model of many makers in my collection but there are those I would not have a desire for additional pieces from. I think Sessions is probably at the top of that list in American clockmakers. Their ratchet & clicks are too light and the wheels seem thinner or of a lower quality brass. The Chinese and Korean clocks are totally out. Cheap clocks in my evaluation. However, some of the older Japanese made clocks are quite well made. Many use movements that are copies of old American designs such as Ansonia and New Haven but seemto hold up well and their cases were often quite nice. I do own a couple of Seikosha's and a Meiji. I would not go out of my way to buy them nor pay much for them. However. I do not have a problem with Ingraham or Gilbert. The cannon pinion failure is a known issue but show me a part on your $40,000 vehicle that will last nearly 100 years before failing. Waterbury also made some less than sterling grade pieces as well. I too, buy looks I like and don't mind spending the time needed to bring them up to health. My opinion remains that these clocks are a part of our social, cultural, and commercial history. If we don't preserve them we will be losing a piece of our history that future generations will not recognize how important they were and how they fit into our development as a culture and a nation. These makers were big business at one time although gone now. In a hundred years will there be people remembering Microsoft, Lotus, DELL, HP, Gateway and others and recognizing how they affected the generations to come.

    DPC
     
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  10. Isaac

    Isaac Registered User

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    Well, then I am unsure why some people seem to crap on these makers regarding their products offered in the 20th century. If they're all mass produced products of relatively comparable quality to each other, then shouldn't a 20th century Seth Thomas/Ansonia T&S be equally valued as a Gilbert or Ingraham amongst collectors? Yet, this is not the case.
     
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  11. claussclocks

    claussclocks Registered User
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    I have Ingraham, Gilbert, Seth Thomas, Ansonia, Waterbury, Atkins, New Haven, Welch, Howard, Chelsea, Sessions, and a few little known makers in my collection. Personally, I would say mid to late 20th century are where the real decline is seen. Seth Thomas stopped making movements and used West German movements in their later years. You also have to be careful that some of the 20th century clocks carrying a known brand name had nothing to do with that company. For example I have seen clocks made in the 60's - 80's with "Ingraham" labels and they were either cheap electrics or quartz made long after Ingraham was gone. You also have to factor in the war years of WWI and WWII. Materials were short and some manufacturers were forced to switch to war materials manufacture as well. WWII probably did as much or more in bringing down the U.S. clock industry as any other factor. I also have English, German, such as: Becker Mauthe, Junghans, Haas, HAC, Austrian and French clocks. Even some of them took shortcuts trying to compete with the cheaper mass production of American makers. It still comes down to this. For example, you can get a machine stamped leather belt or a hand tooled leather belt. Which one of these will have more than likely used the better materials and given the most attention to detail and quality?
    DPC
     
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  12. PatH

    PatH Registered User
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    Perhaps a little off the real topic of this thread, but David makes a good point. The clock/watch companies made major contributions to the war effort, producing horological items and retooling for and designing non-horological items, as well as supporting the effort through the promotion of war bond purchases and supporting the men and women who left their work to serve. Since the American companies weren't producing timepieces for civilian use, Swiss watches gained a huge foothold. You can get a feel for some of the issues the horological industry faced through reading the Hamilton Timely Topics employee newspaper that are available to NAWCC members in the Research section of the website. Westclox's Tick Talk also provides invaluable insight, as does Philip Samponaro's articles in the Bulletin, and his book The Times of Their Lives: Women, Men and the Clock and Watch Industry in Bristol CT - 1900-1970. In the recorded webinars, there is also a presentation on the WarAlarm that sheds light on some of the obstacles faced by the industry. There are many other resources if you should decide to read further. I've not read much about the impact on the British or European industry, but it seems that it would be similar if not even more pronounced.
     
  13. leeinv66

    leeinv66 Moderator
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    Just keep telling everyone there is nothing of interest in 20th-century clocks and I will sit back and watch the number of NAWCC members continue to decline. Pre civil war clocks are relatively scarce and bring a premium in the market. Not everyone is fortunate enough to be in a position to collect them. The majority of new collectors will start their collections with 20th-centry clocks. Disparaging those clocks does nothing to further the interests of the NAWCC or horology in general in my view. But, that's just my opinion.
     
  14. rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

    rmarkowitz1_cee4a1 Registered User
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    I can only speak of the market and what is available in the US, most specifically the Northeast. I suspect it is rather different than in Tasmania.

    There are actually a lot of 19 century clocks still available, including pre-Civil War examples. Many are eminently affordable in the current market. For example, I've seen ww shelf clocks, clocks with brass springs, etc. yes, often in need of some restoration, go begging at auction. Many collections are being dispersed due to the aging of the collector population and a lack of interest on the part of their heirs meaning stuff is coming to market. So yes, I feel many people are now in fact in a very fortunate position to acquire them especially compared to a number of years ago. Their major sin is that they are typically 30 hour clocks and frankly, the general lack of interest in real antiques on the part of the buyers.

    I agree there are definitely worthwhile 20th century clocks. Many are not and if a new collector asked me how they might get started, I would advise against most of them. How about pointing out how some of the available earlier clocks were part of an interesting history of horology and history in general? That there's more to collecting than accumulating stuff for the sake of accumulation. Sorry, I'm not going to breathlessly congratulate someone who paid $40 for a pile of total junk. But that's just my opinion.

    Pointing out the short comings of many 20th century clocks is not the reason that NAWCC membership is dwindling. It's multifactorial. For example, a general decline in interest in antiques, changing tastes, economic factors (e.g., school debt), a decline in interest and membership in many traditional organizations, and so on. There's no simplistic remedy to declining membership in the NAWCC.

    RM
     
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  15. Jim DuBois

    Jim DuBois Registered User
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    While I agree with you that we need to encourage new folks to follow whatever their interest may be, the 20th century, made of plastic, 400 day, modern cuckoos, Lux clocks, may I mention to OP asked what do YOU (meaning in my case me) avoid? And I listed what I avoid.

    I disagree with your premise on prices of pre-civil war clocks. The many clocks of interest to me have not been as cheap as they are today in many years. I would say I am buying pre-civil war clocks today for about what I paid for them 40-50 years ago. In addition to that I have been given a good number of pre-civil war clocks in the last 5 years. Some were wrecks, some were pristine.

    Just today on FaceBook I saw a novice collector buy a less than perfect clock that dated to about 1825, for well under $100. And I encouraged him to buy it and offered his a good profit on it immediately. Fortunately for him he wants to keep it! I have seen that model of clock bring as much as $3500 in years past and more recently $1200, then even more recently $500 as the market has dropped. I can't see how some very good clocks can get much cheaper than they are today.

    I think it important to point out there are very good clocks available, and obtaining quality examples, searching out rarity, and buying clocks by known makers should be encouraged.
     
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  16. chimeclockfan

    chimeclockfan Registered User
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    The 20th century reaches a broad date range as do your variety of clocks manufactured - you could have a clock made in 1901 or 1999.
    The Lux clocks are like collectible toys, they're not amazing quality but they're cute, easy to collect, and tend to look nice. Wouldn't want to blow much money on them.

    The Germans really had the Americans by the britches when it came to 20th century chime clock innovation, not by underhanded sneakery but by simple development and engineering of technologies - such as chime rod blocks, hammer racks, centrifugal flywheels - that were often overlooked by American factories. Herschede was the only American domestic company that innovated its chime clock engineering and still did not exceed what was being made in Germany.
    The Germans were also quite good at upholding movement quality, balancing resource conservation with durable materials. Hermle is a complete joke compared to Kienzle, Gustav Becker, the other greats. Sadly Hermle only survived because we live in a throwaway society more preoccupied with quantity over quality.

    I could make a supreme quality clock out of chicken nuggets and hot mustard. Problem is I ran out of the mustard. :excited:
     
  17. Bruce Alexander

    Bruce Alexander Registered User
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    #17 Bruce Alexander, May 31, 2020
    Last edited: May 31, 2020
    I have no Korean or Chinese clocks in my collection. I don't see many of them on the market identified as such. I'm sure that if I every work with them, I'll learn first hand their strengths and weaknesses. That will probably only happen if an owner brings one to me for service. I wouldn't turn them down, I'd just caution them that I have no experience with their clock's manufacturer.

    If I like the appearance/styling/sound of a clock, I'll look for it. Tran Duy Ly's books have informed many of my collection decisions but I certainly don't have to find a clock in one of his Catalog Reprints if I like it. Also, they all have a story to tell. Many of the less expensive 20th Century Clocks haven't aged well. Not necessarily because they were poorly made, but perhaps because they are not very valuable and haven't been maintained well by subsequent generations or maybe even the original owner. They got wound too tight and stopped running. For some reason they weren't thrown away as junk. I do value and appreciate the information and opinions shared by my fellow collectors too.

    I own Ingraham, Sessions and Gilberts. Not many of them, but some. I'm also happy to work on them for other owners/collectors.

    Here's a Sessions made in partnership with Shop of the Crafters. It was called their Mission Clock No. 1. It also happens to be the only Mission style clock in our collection. Along the lines of what David & PatH pointed out, Sessions went all in on Electrics post WW II. I'm not a collector of line voltage Electric Clocks but I've added a number of their Clocks to our collection for static display. I think they are kind of nice, cute, and kitschy to some degree.

    We have a Gilbert China No 531 which has some of the smallest mainsprings I've encountered for a Mantel Clock thus far. It's a solid runner. It's the only Gilbert in our collection but I'm open to others now that I've worked on this one and could see for myself what they were producing.

    As far as Ingrahams are concerned. We have several, some more valuable than others.

    A neighbor and friend of ours brought a badly neglected family heirloom to my attention. The model is the "Acme". Looking at it and researching the model name made me think of Wiley E Coyote. It was beat! The case was broken into several pieces, the movement was not running. To make matters worse, a separate Alarm Movement had gone missing. On the plus side, all of the rest of the clock was there and original along with the glass tablet and decorative pattern. The dial looked good and the current owner wanted it and appreciated the family history it represents.

    Doug was very happy with his Acme and I'm sure it will be in good hands for at least one more generation. I've restored a number of his heirloom clocks now. They include a Sessions "Alden", the Ingraham "Acme" and a Gilbert "Gem" which was damaged by a broken mainspring. I was happy to be able to bring all of his clocks back to good condition. He calls me his "Clock Whisperer". I tell him not to say that too loudly because I still have a lot to learn. But it makes me smile. :)

    The point is that these clocks, like the companies that produced them are/were survivors. They fulfilled a need in the American Market and they are only junk when they are no longer wanted as heirlooms or collectors' items. That time will probably come soon enough for many of them. In the meantime, I'll pick and choose those I wish to bring in for a brief reprieve, I'll continue to enjoy the honor of working on them for others. Below are photos of some of these Gilberts, Ingrahams and Session Mechanical Clocks.

    Bruce

    Front.jpg Label.jpg Front Right.jpg Front.jpg Mud Dauber.jpg Collage.jpg 1 Case Before and After.jpg 2 Movment Before Collage.jpg 3 Movement Afters.jpg Gem Collage.jpg After.jpg
     
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  18. Chris Radano

    Chris Radano Registered User

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    I don't avoid anything. However, I only pursue what interests me.

    I do have a Chinese clock. It's not too bad... the movement has stamped brass parts, but the marble stand and dome look nice. The biggest reason I bought it was it was sold locally, so no shipping (which would be expensive with the dome and marble). For what I paid, not bad. I think I can sell it again and make my money back.
    Mystery clock, knife edge suspension, pin wheel escapement, Huguenin a Paris

    I had a Chinese Grand Sonnerie carriage clock once. I decided I didn't like it. I sold it on Ebay. The buyer was in China, and I got my money back.
     
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  19. rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

    rmarkowitz1_cee4a1 Registered User
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    The bottom line is collect what you like, like what you collect. Have some coherence to your collecting beyond how few $'s/ton.

    Share it with others and as you do, also share why you are enthusiastic about it.

    Be prepared for some to agree, some to disagree. Overall, don't get too hung up on what others think.

    RM
     
  20. ta855

    ta855 Registered User

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    Not really a manufacturer, but I wouldn't add any cuckoo clocks to my collection. I don't hate them, I just don't like the bellows. Makes it harder to count the hour with a coiled gong and two bellows all striking at the same time. I would get tired of listening to the bellows after a while. Not really a big fan of the style of design either.

    I see some here aren't big fans of Sessions, oh well.. More for me :)
     
  21. DeanT

    DeanT Registered User

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    What Jim said!

    Personally, I avoid anything which isn't English or European.
     
  22. Jim DuBois

    Jim DuBois Registered User
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    And Dean, I have seen nothing in your collection that is less than wonderful. I would happily give up pre-civil war Americana for some of your clocks! But my wallet disagrees....and that is another story, one not needed here! Keep 'em coming! Museum-quality very early pieces of which you take detailed photos and take them apart for show and tell! Great stuff!
     
  23. P.Hageman

    P.Hageman Registered User

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    I remember my first clock, back then nothing special in the eyes of a collector, but I liked it very much and gave me a lot of pleasure. Think thats what its all about!
     
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  24. DeanT

    DeanT Registered User

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    Thanks Jim. You are right that rather than considering what to avoid you should be considering what is good value in the current market which fits your budget and collection. To illustrate I have attached some examples of English clocks I believe are worthy clocks for restoration and collecting that aren't mind blogging expensive. Old clocks aren't expensive as what you might expect and the current market offers great opportunities.

    Firstly, English longcases from early 18thC are relatively cheap although sometimes the restoration isn't for the faint hearted. The two clocks in the photos are from the first decade of the 1700's. Any clock from the golden age of English clockmaking will be well made so I don't consider the name as important unless you are wanting a museum quality piece and are happy to pay accordingly. Generally, I don't talk about how much I paid for a clock but to illustrate for this thread, the 1st longcase cost 400GBP and the 2nd longcase 800GBP both plus commission. Both require extensive restoration but are worth the time and effort (The 2nd one is shown fully restored). Bracket clocks from mid to late 18thC and also offer good value. The 1st bracket clock is around 1750 and a simple timepiece probably provincial as its quite quirky. Its missing its silent pull repeat and one day I will restore this but for 700GBP (plus comm) I can live will it as is. Lastly, the 2nd bracket dates to 1770's and needs to be re-ebonized which is my current project and I stripped it down last weekend. The case is very high quality and the movement is pristine. Again the price wasn't astronomical.

    Patience and knowledge can see any collector acquire some nice pieces without paying a fortune. There is a wealth of knowledge on these websites with many people happy to offer advice to assist on collecting and restoration. Its never been a better time to acquire something that will provide great satisfaction and more than likely hold its value. Newer clocks are unlikely to hold there value and are more of a disposable commodity.

    Jim, I know nothing about American clocks but assume similar examples can be obtained with a bit of patience.

    Cheers
    Dean

    20814002_494866630865356_1855396531_n.jpg 66018159_340786950155590_3354042027049222144_n.jpg timepiece.jpg JullionFront.jpg
     
  25. roughbarked

    roughbarked Registered User

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    I actually try not to collect clocks or watches. Yet somehow I've still ended up with a shed full. That does include Korean clocks particularly the movements. This is because people take the option of changing to a battery movement and I end up with their dodgy clock which yes isn't all that great but with a few improvements they are easily as good as any other clock that was mass produced.
    As was mentioned above, nobody else looks inside to see the movement. They admire the case and dial. They love or hate the chimes or strike.
    I've got so much clock stuff that it actually gets left out in the rain, like the old rusty junk on American Pickers.

    It might pay to recall that it was America that made the cheap clock work. Others copied that.

    However, if I was collecting a clock for myself to use in my home, I'd want it to be of the best quality and I'd probably only want the one.
     
  26. shutterbug

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    I dislike Linden clocks in particular. Usually they are cheaply made junk.
     
  27. Jim DuBois

    Jim DuBois Registered User
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    Thanks Jim. You are right that rather than considering what to avoid you should be considering what is good value in the current market which fits your budget and collection. To illustrate I have attached some examples of English clocks I believe are worthy clocks for restoration and collecting that aren't mind blogging expensive. Old clocks aren't expensive as what you might expect and the current market offers great opportunities.
    Patience and knowledge can see any collector acquire some nice pieces without paying a fortune. There is a wealth of knowledge on these websites with many people happy to offer advice to assist on collecting and restoration. Its never been a better time to acquire something that will provide great satisfaction and more than likely hold its value. Newer clocks are unlikely to hold there value and are more of a disposable commodity.

    Cheers
    Dean

    Dean,
    I appreciate your sharing these clocks. Over the years I have owned similar examples here stateside of these types of English clocks. Compared to what I paid and what I sold them for, your clocks seem most reasonably priced today. So, my take away is your market is down also, similar to ours.

    And I encourage people to spend on the best quality examples they can find, not the cheapest or fill up the barn with everything found in the bin, or local junk store, or garage sale cast-offs. Amazing number of folks don't listen. I was offered a collection of nearly 400 clocks years ago. When I finally got photos the collection had 3 desirable clocks, and all the rest were American made black mantle clocks. Turns out his collection focus was to have an example of one of every model black mantle clock made in America. He valued his collection at over $1 mill USD. I have no idea whatever happened to them, but I couldn't get out of there quick enough.

    But, we agree that good clocks are available at reasonable prices. One of my real advantages is I am able to do most all my restoration work myself. I have to farm out painted tables and painted dial restorations but most of the rest gets done here.[/QUOTE]
     
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  28. rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

    rmarkowitz1_cee4a1 Registered User
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    [/QUOTE]

    Here, here!

    Though I stick with "collect what you like, like what you collect" and have a coherence to your collecting (well, maybe not a goal like to collect every known black mantle), I too feel within that philosophy, collect as good as you can. The current market affords so many opportunities.

    Yes, some don't approve of what I like. I have had a couple of "advanced" collectors tell me that my continued interest in CT stuff is a sign that I never really matured as a collector. Sure. Point taken. That maybe true. I do consider their comments and it does give me some pause. But ultimately, I feel comfortable with the path I've chosen. And their expressed opinions do not cause me to have a hissy fit, say they're mean or sarcastic or disrespectful (I'm just echoing what I've been labelled under similar circumstances). Overall, my collecting path has brought me to a lot of enjoyment. The research and exploration has been great fun, not to mention the people I've met along that path. Financially, well, we all know what that's about. Probably not a great investment in retrospect.

    Now a bit of a hijack. Your story reminded me of this.

    Now quite a few years ago, I had a similar experience. An old timer and his wife were spending more time in FLA than CT. So he was selling his collection housed in their CT home. It was HUGE. However, it quickly became apparent that it appeared that the only guiding principle was the fewest $$/ton spent. He wanted to sell it all for a price that even then would make one feel short of breath and light headed. IMCO, literally 3 reasonable clocks (a Smith and Goodrich 8 day fusee in an onion top case, a Terry and Andrews 8 day onion top with an alarm and a Atkins ripple front 30 day fusee short drop time piece; appealing to a relatively new collector like me). Probably acquired more by accident/sheer luck. Told him those were the ones that I was prepared to step up to the plate and buy for what was a pretty strong price. Nope. He shopped that collection around like crazy. Not surprisingly there were no takers. He finally agreed to sell me the 3 clocks I wanted. After driving all the ways there (about 150 miles 1 way) he then told me I would have to return with cash...the next day because he was leaving for FLA for Christmas. I bowed out. He called me a few times after that, had polite conversation, thanks but no thanks. Ultimately sold those 3 clocks on eBay for < than I offered him.

    RM
     
  29. Jim DuBois

    Jim DuBois Registered User
    NAWCC Member Sponsor

    Jun 14, 2008
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    RM, I also traveled some miles off the beaten track to see that same collection. And he certainly wanted to make a profit off everything he had, no matter what he paid or when he bought it. I was there with Ralph and George and after about 3 minutes the conclusion was we had made an unnecessary detour. Nobody bought anything, he had several clocks I would like to own, but not even on a slow day am I going to pay 3X or 4X of current market. He had a couple of Kirk patent fusee clocks, one was a reverse ogee mirror I very much wanted, but the inferred price was something like $10K. No need to ask further. I was told later that particular clock hit the auction and was hammered at something like $850. A buy at that price. But, a classic example of buy everything, no real focus, and sell it all for more.

    And by the way, you get tired of collecting all that old run of the mill Conn stuf you have, give me a call. Your collection your eye are second to none!
     
  30. rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

    rmarkowitz1_cee4a1 Registered User
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    Nov 26, 2009
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    You're too kind!

    RM
     
  31. Jerome collector

    Jerome collector Registered User
    NAWCC Fellow NAWCC Member

    Sep 4, 2005
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    Jim,
    You're going to have to deal with my sharp, bony elbows if you plan to relieve RM of his immature collection before I've had a chance at it!
    Mike
     
    Jim DuBois and PatH like this.

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