How Do You Handle This - (An Open Discussion Question)

rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

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While I agree that a highly altered clock has become something different, the bottom line is that it up to the owner (or buyer) what he or she wants to trade their money for.
I generally agree with THT and CC. Some collectors seem adverse to witnessing the ravages of time. In my limited experience, those collectors happen to be relatively young.
Perhaps they will, as TH suggests, start using dye and getting botox injections when their hair turns grey and their youthful skin begins to wrinkle. Maybe they'll decide to zip around town in a candy apple red 1960 Corvette Stingray Convertible with multi-colored LED Running Lights. The fuzzy fur, however, would be their dyed mop flowing in the wind. Hopefully they'll have a smile on their face.

For my money, I prefer a well cared for clock in original condition. If it has been restored or repaired, that's better than having it trashed or perhaps parted out. If it's too "modern" for my taste, I'll just keep looking. If I find "it", hopefully I'll still have enough healthy time to smile and enjoy it. Tran Duy Ly published catalog reprints, not catalogs.

Getting back to the matter of a family heirloom, in the case of a highly altered clock, that would be a large part of the clock's history and probably a very small part of the family history. Perhaps someone was Mr. Fix-Anything to save a buck, or someone had quirky tastes and fancied themselves to be a folk artist. Thanks to you, the person who brought the clock to your shop has some good answers and probably a fair number of new questions to research the next time they visit with grandma.

Those answers are some of the intangibles which give the heirloom its real value. IF it is going to stay in the family, (for now), it doesn't really matter what we're willing to pay for it. If they would want to know market value for insurance purposes, each case would be unique but Insurance Companies don't pay out on sentimental value. One would probably need to provide receipts or some type of certified appraisal or proof of market value if the clock is worth the time. A Clock Shop's "opinion" may, or may not be enough. Being that Insurance Companies like premiums far more than claims, a clock repairer's opinion may be worth the paper it is written on, but only if the agent needs to take some quick notes.

Like an old family photo, it is priceless. Even if there's another mass produced example out there in "good" all-original condition, when Great Uncle Fix-It's work is gone, it is gone. For some of us in the market, that may be a good thing. :chuckling:

Bruce
Not sure I agree in total.

My experience has been that some of the older collectors, as evidenced by their statements & subsequently the state of their collections, were the worst offenders when it came to over restoration. Not long ago I saw an example @ a Chapter 8 meeting. A mirror clock heavily restored @ great expense, looking basically like a new repop. It was heart breaking. Many of those folks collected in an era when it was expected that antiques would be stripped, restored and so on.

Most long time collectors are seeking that one rare all original piece that still looks good. Some are not so concerned with it being in running condition. Newer collectors tend to settle for lesser quality and/or restored clocks that look good, and over time will sell some when replacements become available. The clock in question is one of the latter types which will probably satisfy a newer collector for the time being. It's a handsome clock, and looks pretty good to someone who doesn't really know what he's looking at. I would expect it to sell north of $200 pretty easily, and possibly up to double that .... depending on the crowd at the auction.
Yes, I think many would like to find “that one rare all original piece”. But as you can see from postings on the Forum, it is certainly not the only thing. Enjoy nice clean ORIGINAL stuff, too.

No, I don’t agree. Enough platitudes. Quite a few of the few newer collectors I have encountered are looking for quality & guidance as to how to identify & find it. Junk is junk & it’s a put off & put down to them when that’s offered & pushed on them just because they are pegged as new or young collectors. These folks work hard for their money & want good value. And from experience I know that when treated right, you spend time educating & explaining, they become repeat customers who buy nice things.

$200?? To paraphrase Alan Greenspan, irrational exuberance!!

RM
 

Bruce Alexander

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No, I don’t agree. Enough platitudes. Quite a few of the few newer collectors I have encountered are looking for quality & guidance as to how to identify & find
I obviously do not have your experience RM. I do speak from some experience though. I have a young client who doesn't have a family (wife or kids) and likes to spend some of his discretionary income collecting clocks. He has bought clocks from me. He has sent (directly or indirectly) clocks to me for work, and he has sent me "spare" movements to do with as he damn well pleases. I do steer him away from drastic "restorations" and will often recommend approaches like the Warren method and wax for conservative preservation, cleaning and smoothing of original finishes. The guy is intelligent and has achieved a lot in a short period of time. He has a firm idea of what he wants in his collection. Sometimes he listens to me, sometimes he doesn't. My advice often ends with "If this were my clock, I'd do such and such", and "Less is more". After that, he's a young adult and knows what he is doing. There are some things I won't do to a clock, but he hasn't asked me to cross that line yet.

Regards,

Bruce
 

Jim DuBois

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I am just curious, not trying to belittle anyone, but how many times in the last year, or the last month has a clock been shown here that was deserving of a paid formal expensive appraisal, keeping in mind that some of the folks responding on the MB are credentialed but often remain quiet?
 

Bruce Alexander

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but how many times in the last year
I'm not aware of any Sir, but it's always a possibility, no?
A "Formal" Appraisal need not be too expensive. There are relatively inexpensive appraisal services to be found on sites like Collectors Weekly. Whether an Insurance Company would accept them as proof of value or not, I don't know. An owner needing that type of documentation would do well to ask their insurance Agent for guidance. Our collective wisdom should enable one to separate the wheat from the chaff though.
 

Jim DuBois

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A valid and proper appraisal is seldom cheap. An appraisal done on the cheap is not likely to stand up to any loss claims if there is much money involved. Appraisals should be generally done by licensed appraisers (or acknowledged experts in the field) who are knowledgable of the market for the item being appraised. Such a party will most likely do research of recent auctions of like items, make available auction prices paid, where and when the auction was completed, and comparative photos. They will also offer a detailed description of the item, along with usually detailed photos. They will frequently want to identify where you acquired an item, how long ago, how much you paid, etc. They want that sort of information to establish or continue provenance, while at the same time better understanding the owners level of investment. It is never good to offer an appraisal of say $5000 on something the owner paid $50,000. Having such information before writing an appraisal will not change an appraised amount in a valid appraisal but having such knowledge may allow a bit different management of the hole the owner may find himself, from the appraiser's perspective.


Asking your agent for guidance might be a starting point but what you really need are the written requirements for appraisals from your insurance provider. What the agent might say can be wrong, right, off the cuff, quickly forgotten, or just his or her quick effort to get on to the next call/complaint/claim. And I like and respect agents, but just saying, if it isn't in writing in their rule book all you may have is them happily taking your money for a service they are not obligated to provide in the event of a claim and will most likely not allow payment against the claim. And everyone needs an understanding of the difference between "household goods" and antiques. A chest of drawers may well be covered for $1000 under household goods, but declaring it to be a $1000 antique chest of drawers will usually exempt it from payment of a claim unless it is carried and itemized as an antique.


I have about one hundred clocks here in the house/garage. Some fair numbers are quite rare and in excellent condition. Of the one hundred there are two or three worth a proper appraisal and carrying itemized antique insurance on them.


Having dealt with insurance companies on one break-in and theft of clocks, two lightning strikes affecting no clocks, one theft in the transportation of a piece of jewelry, and one Simon Willard 1st period timepiece destroyed in moving by a licensed, bonded ,and insured moving company, I am now entirely self-insured.


For me getting appraisals done properly, keeping them current, updating them as necessary, renegotiating with the insurance provider, and all the rest is simply not worth the time investment as well as the cost of all of the above. If the house blows away or burns to the ground the loss to me will be significant but survive able. If we all survive plague and pestilence upon us today many of our clocks will be donated in the fairly near future anyhow.
 

Bruce Alexander

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Jim,

You've touched on quite a few points.

Such a party will most likely do research of recent auctions of like items
Once a clock has been identified, this is often easily done these days on the Internet. LiveAuctioneers.com casts a fairly large net. I'll often refer to it for my own purposes, or in trying to answer informal value questions on the Message Board.

I only brought up the possibility of a formal appraisal if one of us have dealings with a customer/heir who has no solid information on the value of a truly rare and valuable heirloom clock. Given enough information, we may be able to come up with an informal "ball park" appraisal for the member to pass along to his or her customer. It would then be totally up to that customer to determine the appropriate course of action for their set of circumstances. If you ever watch the "Antiques Roadshow" program, you've no doubt watched as their appraisers suggest a monetary figure for Insurance coverage when something rare and valuable pops up. Honestly, the only expensive (for us) clocks that I've worked on belong in our collection.

If we all survive plague and pestilence upon us today many of our clocks will be donated in the fairly near future anyhow.
We'll have to see what happens. :eek:

Regards,

Bruce
 

rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

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I'm not aware of any Sir, but it's always a possibility, no?
A "Formal" Appraisal need not be too expensive. There are relatively inexpensive appraisal services to be found on sites like Collectors Weekly. Whether an Insurance Company would accept them as proof of value or not, I don't know. An owner needing that type of documentation would do well to ask their insurance Agent for guidance. Our collective wisdom should enable one to separate the wheat from the chaff though.
I decided to have separate insurance for my collection. It was years ago and the collection was much smaller and really nothing like it is now. I was directed by my insurance agent that the way to go was a "valuable items policy", separate from my homeowner's policy. It required a formal appraisal by a professional appraiser. By the way, it is my understanding that not all states require an appraiser to be licensed unless they are a residential appraiser, i.e., they appraise dwellings, buildings, etc.

The appraiser and his partner spent a lot of time examining, describing, photographing and assigning a value range based upon auction information. They like that as it is a public record. But they provide a range and if possible, justify the upper range based upon comparing your item to the one that sold in the upper range. What do they look for when doing that comparison? ORIGINALITY, LACK OF REFINISHING, RESTORATION, ALTERATION, ETC! It's not just about looking on line and finding a similar object that sold on something like Live Auctioneers. Unless you find the appropriate "comps", the insurance company will just turn around and find the example that sold for bupkis and insist that is the value.

In his report, the appraiser had to include a pretty complete list of his credentials and experience, almost like a CV, and that he was a member of the Appraisers Association of America. Because, at least at that time, MA did not license fine arts appraisers, so any Joe Blow could have put together an appraisal. The reputation and standing of an appraiser matters to an insurance company. Otherwise, they may dispute the appraisal. They will probably try to do it anyways.

Furthermore, an appraiser familiar with the local market and values is important. An appraiser from New England might not do justice to a collection antique Southern furniture.

The appraiser had to state that he had no financial interest in the values or the collection. It is a clear violation of ethics to appraise something then offer to buy it. Finally, and I learned a bit of the hard way, that specialized collections, like clocks and watches, should be appraised by someone with an appropriate background. I found that a general fine arts appraiser may not be the way to go for a specialized collection.

Anyhow, it was very expensive which is why, at my great peril, I have not bothered to go through it again. Probably penny wise and pound foolish. If my house burns down or blows away, I will be screwed. I am considering having appraisals of just a number of the rarer items.

By the way, auction houses and dealers offer appraisals, too.

I have seen those on-line appraisals. Done on the basis of photographs. They are a feature column in some of the free "throw away" publications kept in a pile near the door of some of the group shops up here. Forget it. You get what you pay for and I doubt that any insurance company would accept them.

RM
 

Bruce Alexander

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Okay. Thanks for the education Jim and RM.

I can relate as I do have experience with obtaining Real Estate Appraisals. Very thorough and well documented efforts. In the end, they all still come down to a considered opinion. In my experience there were THREE done on a residential property in a family member's estate. There was some disagreement among interested parties which threatened a partition. The fourth appraisal, conducted by a Lending Institution's agent, settled the matter. No one was entirely happy. Differences in the three estimated values were significant. Something else to consider is that Appraisals have a limited shelf-life. It seems that only rare clocks have held on to their value.

Got it. However, you never know what might pop up from time to time.

Regards,

Bruce
 

Dick C

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Assuming an appraisal for your antiques was done 5 or 10 years ago and given that the market for antiques has tanked what are the insurance company payouts that might occur if a disaster occurs? Will they take the appraisal and discount to current levels?
 

shutterbug

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I haven't run into many new collectors recently, but when I do they are often young people without a lot of spending money. They frequent auction houses and on line auctions as well as thrift stores to fill their desire to acquire clocks. Very often they are not terribly educated in clock quality, and instead will buy based on looks and running condition.
Those are the same people who will become more educated in time and start trading clocks for better examples when they run out of room to store them. They will also be more likely to delve into restoring their own clocks and/or start selling restored clocks online.
Personally, my taste is for the unusual. The rolling platform clock, the Dickory Dickory Dock, the ball clocks in several varieties, the Grasshopper escapement .... stuff like that. My collection is not huge .... just odd :D
 
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