Original vs restored

Discussion in 'General Clock Discussions' started by jkfabulos, Jan 18, 2012.

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  1. jkfabulos

    jkfabulos Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Aug 21, 2001
    I have always been fascinated by the attitude concerning original vs mint correctly restored clocks.
    I think this is a carry over from the furniture business where original dirty,cracked,darkened finish so dark you can't tell what wood is under it vs mint correctly restored finish can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars.
    The original builder of this clock or piece of furniture never intended it to be seen in this "original" but totally undistinguishable condition. They had no idea that the original finish formulas would react to time in this manner buy turning dark and hiding the often fancy book matched wood grains and fancy details they spent countless hours producing.
    I note that antique restored vehicles such as cars and motorcycles generally sell for much more (with rare exceptions) than the as found condition ones do. A perfect example is this fully restored motorcycle just sold at Barret-Jackson. "The top seller of the weekend was a beautifully restored 1910 Flying Merkel, resplendent in the company's bright orange coloring, that garnered $86,800."
    If it had been left in "original" condition I would guess the sales price would have been much less and finding a buyer would have been much more difficult as the buyer would have to be figuring the cost of restoration into his purchase price.
    I would much rather have a mint restored example than the opposite of any car, motorcycle, or clock.
    The thing I do not understand is the huge price disparity if it is a restored clock vs a restored car or motorcycle. Restored cars and motorcycles bring premium prices but restored clocks or furniture bring lower prices.
    The "original dial" thing that the Japanese started with the wristwatch collection craze is another example of this phenomenon. I recently spoke to a big time Japanese dealer and he stated the unintended consequences of this being the most important thing to consider when buying a collectible watch has made it almost impossible to sell even factory restored dial watches for anywhere near the actual value. He said "once this thing got started it took on a life of its own."
    I think the whole "original" finish concept has also taken on a life of its own.
    I suspect it is based on hype perpetuated by various individuals and auction houses with a vested interest.
    I know this is a can of worms but it should provoke some interesting replies.

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  2. Jerome collector

    Jerome collector Registered User
    NAWCC Fellow NAWCC Member

    Sep 4, 2005
    Geologist, US Army Corps of Engineers
    Omaha, NE
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    Talk about entering the lion's den! I also do not understand the different standards for one type of collectible (cars/motorcycles/bikes) compared to another (furniture/clocks). I would not be greatly surprised if the preference for old, grungy surfaces on furniture evolves with time. If I were a betting man, I'd put money down that the original maker of a piece of furniture or a clock would be horrified to see the surfaces that are considered desirable today. To him, it would be a sign of many years of neglect that diminishes the impact of the furniture. Having said that, there is a difference between gently cleaning an old surface and stripping the finish off. I think the maker would appreciate the warm glow that 150 years of aging has given to his piece, without trying to argue that a stripped and refinished article was closer to his original intention.
  3. chimeclockfan

    chimeclockfan Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Dec 21, 2006
    Chime clock & gong studies.
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    I don't repair anymore than necessary. If the clocks runs, sounds good, and has no woodworm, I don't bother with refinishing and such.
  4. Rob P.

    Rob P. Registered User

    Dec 19, 2011
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    There is also the situation where a case has a movement which did not come in that particular case yet is the same series/number/type as the movement which originally was in that case. Is this still an "unrestored" clock? A "marriage?"

    How about where someone rebuilds a case from only a few barely salvagable or re-useable parts? Restored or "home built?"

    All in all I think there are 2 types of clock affectionados. One is where "original" means it hasn't been touched EVER since it left the factory. Even re-bushing or repairing the movement means it is not "original" and thusly has been "tampered with." The other is where the appreciation comes from having a clock that runs, keeps time, and looks like it did the day it was crated at the factory or has only minor wear & tear and having a few replacement parts only means it was cared for during its lifetime.

    I'm in the second camp. "Originality" comes second to appearance and functionality.
  5. lamarw

    lamarw Registered User

    Jan 5, 2002
    Lake Martin, Alabama
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    It is an interesting discussion topic. I have restored many of the clocks in my collection, and even made one decent clock out of two when there was no other option.

    In my experience, the few clocks I come across in original condition are generally the more expensive clocks in their day. These were typically purchased originally by the wealthy and kept in one family or a family home for generations. The more common American made clocks (sold to the massses) seem to of suffered over the hundred to two hundred years of their lives. Often materials such as veneer have not held up well to enviromental conditions of common households.

    It is a true blessing to happen across an almost perfect antique clock. At the same time, I appreciate seeing a good restoration endeavor.
  6. Chris Radano

    Chris Radano Registered User

    Feb 18, 2004
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    Personally, some of my favorite clocks have been lovingly used, and it shows. I look around at the clocks here, all of them need or have had minor restoration and/or repair... like cars, with clocks being used over the years it's unavoidable.

    To me it is more desirable to see a clock that has been used CAREFULLY and LOVINGLY, and WELL MAINTAINED, even LIGHTLY RESTORED or REPAIRED......than a clock that has been HEAVILY restored to the point where it is deficient in PERSONALITY.

    Not absolute, because there are fine clocks out there that look like they've been in a vault for a century. Ironically, if these examples are for sale, the prices can be relatively inexpensive because buyers seem to mistakenly overvalue basket cases.

    Mostly, clocks should be fun and enjoyable.
  7. ClockMogul

    ClockMogul Registered User

    Oct 1, 2011
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    Original condition and finish have been a normal for well over 100 years. You can look back to auction house catalogs of "American Period Furniture" and see that even back in the 1890's when selling American 1700's period furniture that even then original condition commanded superior prices over refinished. Furniture along with clocks also can be refinished to avoid and deceit detection of fake and incorrect additions. With the value of what some high end premium pieces bring, comes along with it deceit and deception.
  8. Bruce Barnes

    Bruce Barnes Registered User

    Mar 20, 2004
    #8 Bruce Barnes, Jan 19, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2012
    All excellent points however for an antique to lose value because it was cleaned,years of neglect wiped away,sagging joints that need to redone because of old failing glue,plates with verdi gris etc .These are conditions of neglect or indifferebce and not the heavily marketed "Original Condition"...............my antiques are used and taken care of and are not relegated to being dust collectors or "hangar queens"
    This one arrived dirty and with a minor joint seperation,reglued case cleaned and ticking merrily away.....
  9. Bruce Barnes

    Bruce Barnes Registered User

    Mar 20, 2004
    photo finally loaded

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