Seth Thomas violin

Discussion in 'General Clock Discussions' started by 010008, Oct 10, 2019.

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  1. 010008

    010008 Registered User
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    Oct 25, 2009
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    Hello all. A customer of mine wanted me to repair this clock. After doing a bit of research I discovered how rare these are but that there are some reproductions/fakes out there too. Can anyone help to confirm if it’s real or fake? Thanks in advance, Dave Stewart.

    upload_2019-10-10_9-27-48.jpeg upload_2019-10-10_9-30-10.jpeg upload_2019-10-10_9-32-36.jpeg

    upload_2019-10-10_9-35-41.jpeg upload_2019-10-10_9-37-36.jpeg upload_2019-10-10_9-53-55.jpeg
     
  2. Uhralt

    Uhralt Registered User
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    I don't see anything that hints to a reproduction. Looks like the real deal to me!

    Uhralt
     
  3. bruce linde

    bruce linde Technical Admin
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    if it is a repro, it’s an amazing one. :cool:
     
  4. D.th.munroe

    D.th.munroe Registered User

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    I'm not so sure, I have a feeling it's a reproduction.
     
    Jim DuBois likes this.
  5. bruce linde

    bruce linde Technical Admin
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    i certainly have no experience or qualifications to say authoritatively... can you be more specific about why you're doubtful? movement? case? what are the red flags for you?
     
  6. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

    Feb 9, 2008
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    Looks good to me but I've never seen one, even in a book. Willie X
     
  7. D.th.munroe

    D.th.munroe Registered User

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    I am certainly no authority either. I think one of Tran Duy Ly's seth thomas books (which I dont have) had a couple pages on these clocks and very, very few were made and they were copied even early.
     
  8. bruce linde

    bruce linde Technical Admin
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    well, movement and dial could be legit w a copied case... maybe more / bigger / detailed photos?

    is there any known history for the clock?
     
  9. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

    Feb 9, 2008
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    The back of the backboard and bottom of the bottom board can sometimes 'tell the tale' of a suspicious clock. Willie X
     
  10. lpbp

    lpbp Registered User
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    From what I can see the movement looks authentic, never seen one of these copied, the dial is good,the label also looks authentic, I guess it's possible someone put an old movement, dial and label on a new case, a lot of work. My thoughts are it's authentic.
     
  11. Jim DuBois

    Jim DuBois Registered User
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    It appears to have some inconsistencies that suggest all is not as it should be. The plugs in the semi-finished backboard don't look correct. The finished backboard is inconsistent with other ST clocks of the period. There is glue in and around the label that doesn't look right. The glass is not consistent with a period glass. A bit too coarse of detail or perhaps better said a lack of crisp execution of the glass. It appears as if someone took a ST clock of the period, mostly with parts that look proper, and put it all together to look like a proper violin clock. There are so few of the real ones it is hard to be entirely certain. A good test would be a proper one alongside this one and see what we think? But, I don't have one, and I don't know where there is one these days, for certain. If it is a repop it is far better than most I have seen (3 or 4).
     
  12. Steven Thornberry

    Steven Thornberry User Administrator
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    A couple of things, more or less. Are there any stenciled numerals/letters on the back of the clock, such as 5881L or the like. Many of the originals carry such stenciling, which is a date code. 5881L would equate to December 1885. The few I've seen with stenciling were all sometime in 1885.

    Pages 640-641 of Snowden Taylor's research column in the October 2003 Bulletin has a bit on reproduction violin clocks.

    https://docs.nawcc.org/Bulletins/2000/articles/2003/346/346_633.pdf

    Regarding early reproductions, Snowden's column in the April 2008 Bulletin, pp. 206-07, discusses a German violin timepiece. Although not mentioned there, the movement in that timepiece is by the Union Clock Co. in Furtwangen, Germany. This company was founded in 1871, though the name Union Clock Co. came into use only in 1885.

    https://docs.nawcc.org/Bulletins/2000/articles/2008/373/373_205.pdf
     
  13. 010008

    010008 Registered User
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    Oct 25, 2009
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    I am currently trying to find some background info on this piece. At this point all I know is that it came from a family member from the east coast. Apparently it has been in the family a while.

    Regarding pictures, would more help and of what?
     
  14. Steven Thornberry

    Steven Thornberry User Administrator
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    Tran's Vol 2 of his 3d ed. of ST clocks (pp. 746-51) has a few examples of originals along side repros. Apparently, the repros used many original ST parts.
     
  15. Jim DuBois

    Jim DuBois Registered User
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    This clock sold for a lot of money in 2012, a bit over $17,000. That backboard looks correct to me.

    1214shseth_det1.jpg 1214shseth.jpg
     
  16. Steven Thornberry

    Steven Thornberry User Administrator
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    Looks like 5881I stenciled on the backboard (September 1885).
     
  17. John Arrowood

    John Arrowood Registered User
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    Item no. 272, Seth Thomas...Violin clock, ca 1892. Selchow Collection in The Book of American Clocks, Brooks Palmer, Macmillan, 1928, 1950. Also, item 447, a Violin clock made by Seth Thomas ca 1892, James W. Gibbs collection, p. 258-259. Palmer's "A Treasury of American Clocks," Mcmillan, 1967. I wonder if Gibbs bought some or part of the Selchow collection.
     
  18. Jim DuBois

    Jim DuBois Registered User
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    This one didn't sell. It could be right, but if there was a number on the backboard some well-meaning party cleaned it off a long time ago? Or it may be a later replica? It has a nice label and looks good other than no number. It was estimated at $4000-$6000 at the time. And people criticize those of us who suggest leaving original surfaces alone and if cleaning is done it should be done in a fashion to keep as much detail as possible.

    1205shviol_det1 (1).jpg 1205shviol_det3.jpg 1205shviol_det4.jpg 1205shviol.jpg
     
  19. bruce linde

    bruce linde Technical Admin
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    ok, so after reviewing the snowden article (and photos) along with the other examples provided, both the front and back of the clock in question look way too new/clean to me... especially the back. there's no graining in the front, where there is on the photos provided by jim.
     
  20. Uhralt

    Uhralt Registered User
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    Wow, I didn't expect this one to be a reproduction, but I didn't focus on the case. Movement and dial looked original to me. When were the reproductions made? Were they sold clearly labeled as reproductions or were they intended to be fakes? Who made them?

    Uhralt
     
  21. D.th.munroe

    D.th.munroe Registered User

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    It is a very good reproduction.
    At a quick glance that movement looks fine but looking closely at it there is something bugging me about it, it almost seems like a reproduction as well, the brass looks wrong, there's no real oxidation or wear, at least not what I would expect from a movement of that age and style, usually you can tell if it's been cleaned even if they did an exceptional job, also the blue screws look wrong, like when you blue cheap steel and the pallet retaining wire is the same blue and a couple other things, but of course those things could have been replaced. I haven't seen a fake like that but that's my guess.
    Dan
     
  22. D.th.munroe

    D.th.munroe Registered User

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  23. Steven Thornberry

    Steven Thornberry User Administrator
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    Out of pure curiosity, what is on the small label on the back of the case? It appears to be perhaps a repairer's/retailer's label.
     
  24. Jim DuBois

    Jim DuBois Registered User
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    These "replicas" have been made for a long time. I think there was an ad in The Magazine Antiques, or a similar publication, to custom build these clocks to order back in the '20s-'30s. As documented in several places in the Bulletin, there have been more recent recreations.

    Replica or fake? That depends on how they are represented when sold. If they are sold with accurate representation, then they are replicas. Sadly, a bit later, a lot of replicas become fakes when they are represented as period, or sold with no representation.

    I don't think we can pin down if the clock in the original post was intended to fool, or was the effort of a well-intended party to have a clock of this style at a price he could afford.
     
  25. Uhralt

    Uhralt Registered User
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    Thank you Jim, this is very interesting!

    Uhralt
     
  26. PatH

    PatH National Program Chair
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    Is the OP's clock possibly an original with some restoration work done? Most of the clock seems to have age, but the carved ornamentation made of a lighter wood is what seems unusual to me.
     

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