The Future of Clock Collecting

Bruce Alexander

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Regarding the mask comments, my Avatar still wears one for a reason. That's a new aspect of life in America for me.

I do like working on clocks and I enjoy them in general so they are more of an investment in myself and my quality of life. Financially, they are a poor "investment".

It's a buyer's market, but sooner or later our clocks will change hands and I do worry about the future of our grand kids.

Best regards,

Bruce
 
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ManFromAbora

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As a relatively young collector, I've been pondering what clock collecting will look like in the future especially regarding my generation. Part of me worries that the interest in antique clocks will continue to dwindle (watches and the sort will likely do fine, since they're in-fashion and luxury items) because there's just an honest lack of interest/awareness regarding the hobby of collecting/repairing clocks.

Not many people in my generation want to spend the time to get an antique clock properly in-beat and regulated to run accurately across the week, especially since we have extremely quick access to digitalized time on demand (which never needs to be adjusted most of the time unless changing time zones). Clocks that don't work get thrown out, much like the mindset of "replace, don't repair". Of course, as time goes on there will be less and less people to fix antique clocks or family heirlooms, which would naturally present a pretty significant issue. I suspect high-value clocks will of course get specialized treatment and care, but the vast majority of mass-produced clocks we commonly encounter might face the aforementioned issue.

Your thoughts on the issue?
Depressing really. I recently posted about a great find at my local thrift store. (Circa 1860 Japy Freres in n excellent shape) Turns out a whole collection had been donated. Most wound up going to the goodwill online auction site but a few stayed behind at the donation store. I worry something like that might happen to my clocks after I’m gone as my kids have no interest in antiques.

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Salsagev

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Most wound up going to the goodwill online auction site but a few stayed behind at the donation store.
This is simply how Goodwill does business these days. I am surprised they left anything at the stores.


An overpriced clock does no good to the economy as well, in my opinion, when it comes to the next owner.
 

bruce linde

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some of my clocks are highly desirable to clock collectors... others are marriages i put together that have (in some cases (so to speak)) high quality and desirable components. in the notes for each clock i do highlight those items, but can't see my executor being bothered to (for example) pull a high quality movement from an ok case i was using just so i could run the clock, and deal w/ selling the movement separately.

my hope is that the notes will accompany each clock... whether auctioned, donated or sold.... and someone will be interested.

my concern is that not all of my clocks will survive into the future.

of course, i'm not sure there will be much of a future because i continue to make the mistake of reading/watching the news. :)

this song has been in my mind...

When I think of all the worries
People seem to find
And how they're in a hurry
To complicate their minds
By chasing after money
And dreams that can't come true
I'm glad that we are different
We've better things to do

One, two, three, four
Shah-la, la-la-la-la live for today
Shah-la, la-la-la-la live for today
And don't worry 'bout tomorrow hey, hey, hey
Shah-la, la-la-la-la live for today
Live for today
 

Cheezhead

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There is no need to be concerned with the continued existence of clock collecting. It is simply another way to collect things such as stamps, coins, old cars, old motorcycles, swords, hot sauces, etc. Your desire for a collecting type hobby if that is what you will enjoy can be satisfied with a wide variety available.

Within the clock collecting hobby there are various ways to go about it such as cheap, expensive, external appearance, age, mechanical complexity, country of origin, quartz, outlet powered or mechanical and I could go on. This large variety makes clocks even more interesting to further ensure that the hobby will endure along with other hobby choices.
 

DeanT

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One rapidly changing factor (as suggested by leeinv66) has been the large increase in shipping costs since the start of the pandemic. Shipping costs from the US have always been 2 or 3 times more expensive than the rest of the world but are now truly exorbitant. I will barely look at a clock from there as the shipping makes it uneconomic. Further, any cheaper clocks are now not worth buying online and it only makes sense to buy better clocks internationally. So while the internet has expanded the range of buying opportunities the increase in shipping costs has had the reverse effect. Longcase clocks in particular are becoming a locally sourced item unless you have a friend in the UK would can put them in a box for you (novicetimekeeper ) This may further depress sale prices in future years. I believe shipping companies used the excess capacity on passenger flights to send small parcels and the reduction in international passenger flights has seen a steep increase in costs but not sure if this is true.

On a similar but slightly different theme, I recently purchased a clock in London and was intending to send it to a friend in the UK to have it professionally restored before sending offshore. The auction house house informed me that if I shipped it out of the country directly I wouldn't have to pay VAT on the sales commission. Turned out that they paid me to ship it directly out of the country as the tax reduction was more than the shipping. Doesn't seem like a smart taxation system if it reduces income for the locals. I had exactly the same when shipping from New York a few years back but far worse as they wanted to charge VAT on the entire sales price.
 
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ChimeTime

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I have a different take. There will always be X% of the population that is wired by nature and therefore interested in all things mechanical. And since the population is growing, there will be more adherents. However, in the future, there will be fewer and fewer mechanical things to tinker on. Case in point... cars and motorcycles will probably be all-electric by 2040. Mechanical guys don't want to tinker with computers and cell phones now, what will they do with a computerized-all electric vehicle ? Obviously classic vehicles will get a shot in the arm, but what happens when those can no longer be driven due to mandated pollution or safety regulations ? The only near equivalent is Clocks.

Now, not all clocks will survive. I'm watching Antiques Roadshow and the value of overly ornate French porcelain has hit the skids. However, the price of classic pottery is on the rise. Classic pottery can be displayed in any home, but porcelain from the Rococo Period only fits in one type decorating scheme. So the interest and therefore value in those ornate clocks is dwindling.

So with a growing population of innately mechanical brains left with fewer and fewer things to tinker with... it's a natural that more and more people will be turning to clocks and watches. Vehicles can and will be legislated off the roads, but there has never been any government ban on time pieces. Even if the world turns to a "decimal day" with 100 minutes per hour, there will never be laws to confiscate older clocks. They, like flintlocks and sailing ships, will simply be "left behind".

The clocks you buy now for $60, your kids will be selling for $3000... as long as they have clean, classic lines.

Just my 2 cents !
 
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Bruce Alexander

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Shipping is definitely a huge advantage for our watch collecting cousins. I've seen domestic shipping costs skyrocket too over the last decade. Price increases tend to be "sticky". They go up, and very seldom go down.

The only near equivalent is Clocks
I like your optimism but are you sure about that CT?

Good riddance to the infernal combustion engine but I'm hoping that our scientists and engineers come up with something better that Lithium Ion before EV's really scale up. I'd hate to see (probably won't anyway) toxic battery dumps and Lithium mines in third-world countries.
 
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chimeclockfan

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Even if the world turns to a "decimal day" with 100 minutes per hour, there will never be laws to confiscate older clocks. They, like flintlocks and sailing ships, will simply be "left behind".
Just set the pendulums to gain considerately, then they'll keep up with newfangled time standards.

Good riddance to the infernal combustion engine but I'm hoping that our scientists and engineers come up with something better that Lithium Ion before EV's really scale up. I'd hate to see (probably won't anyway) toxic battery dumps and Lithium mines in third-world countries
We've already had a novel alternative since the stone age. Elon Musk couldn't be more jealous.
No emissions, cheap to build, and keeps the operator in good physical shape!

Foot Powered Automobile.jpg
 

DeanT

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Shipping is definitely a huge advantage for our watch collecting cousins. I've seen domestic shipping costs skyrocket too over the last decade. Price increases tend to be "sticky". They go up, and very seldom go down.
Agreed. I've lent more towards brass cases over time as they pack and travel better than wood and glass. I don't like the idea of wrecking a nice antique clock so it always makes me nervous.
 
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chimeclockfan

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In a way that's how it really worked. You walked as you rode in the car. :o:)

In some sectors there is preference towards customizing 'common' clocks. Painting the cases white, modifying the chime trains to play different tunes, and adding entire chime trains to simple time/strike clocks. While this has gone on in one form or another for over 100 years, one must wonder how many of these clocks will end up modified and how this will affect long-term interest. To some this enhances their appeal, to others it destroys what little value there was. You still find a number of two train English or American longcases with add-on chime movements. They are notable because the movement is set off to the side, leaving the winding arbor in a strange place on the dial asymmetrical to the strike and time trains.

Adding chimes to typical two train longcases as documented in an old book:


Recent example of a Vedette clock modified to play a Vietnamese folk song:

 
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Bruce Alexander

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In a way that's how it really worked. You walked as you rode in the car. :o:)
I think my shoes and my life would last longer if I simply walked. :)

Recent example of a Vedette clock modified to play a Vietnamese folk song:
I don't understand a word spoken but modifying the chime melody is something I can not do. I wonder if the clockmaker was self-taught. In any case, impressive.

Tell me what you see.
Hello Calvin. There's a whole lot to look at there. I'll just choose to narrow it down to the auction's "featured" clock, Ansonia's "Antique Wall Hanging Clock".

I see that it sold for $2,185 in February 2021.

Here's one that sold for $7,500 in October of 2004:
1536: Ansonia 'Antique' Ormolu-Mounted Oak Hanging Wall - Oct 23, 2004 | Weschler's in DC

$7,000 May of 2007: 2077: Ansonia Antique Hanging Clock NR - May 05, 2007 | Tom Harris Auctions in IA

The model's auction price gradually but steadily decreases through the years..

$2,000 also in February 2021 Ansonia "Antique Hanging" Wall Clock - Feb 27, 2021 | Fontaine's Auction Gallery in MA

Most recently (in my search results)
$2,300 in April 2021:Ansonia Antique Hanging Clock - Apr 24, 2021 | Schmidt's Antiques Inc. Since 1911 in MI

What I see is that if you take US inflation into consideration the drop in value is much more stunning/disappointing

$7,500 in 2004 is the equivalent of about $10,600 in 2021.
$2,300 in 2021 is the equivalent of about $1,625 in 2004

I know that you are very new to all of this Calvin. Some of these price points must be "Pre-historic" to you (even before you were born), but I hope that you can see how someone who has been collecting for a while might be deeply disappointed by talk of their "over priced" clocks. I know that you are just calling things as you see them and depreciation of one's collection is not your fault. Just be aware of the scale of loss many of us are seeing here.

This is an expensive hobby. A decade ago, my mentor didn't collect many clocks. He scoured local sources for under-priced clocks, fixed them and sold them when and where he could. He also did a lot of work on clocks owned by others, but Horology/Clock Repair was only a part-time job for him. Last I spoke with him, he had cut way back on clock work. A lot of it had to do with the local community environment he and his wife relocated to. The folks were not nearly as affluent. I also got the sense that it just wasn't worth his time and effort anymore.

Regards,

Bruce
 
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Betzel

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It's interesting.

I'm a retired American, and clock repair student, living in the south of Italy where clock collecting and repairing are almost unheard of. I rescue my "pet shelter" clocks from the street, thrift shops and charities where people clean out dead people's homes and sell what they do not trash for coffee money. After repairing a few dozen of these and giving them away, people tell me when their friends come over they all ask "wow, where did you get that old clock?...how old is it?...who made it?" they really enjoy the conversation that comes from it and it inspires others to adopt an old clock. One guy saw me with a vienna wall clock under my arm and stopped me on the street to chat about old clocks. We talked for over an hour.

Now I'm relocating, so I'm giving away the ones I had kept for myself. A friend of my wife's took my black forest lackschilduhr mit weker and will be bragging to her Brazilian mother that she has a clock older than any of her mom's old cuckoos. She put the marble/lead Mussolini-era Veglia "front and center" on her mantle. What's amazing to me is the number of latent romantics and fellow collectors out there who --given one or two low-value clocks-- get bitten by the bug.

So, I have no idea how to guide the OP, predict the future of collecting, decide what to collect, etc. but for most of us this is a passion, not an investment. And passion (like misery) loves company or we would all not be here. If each of us gave away just one low-end clock from our burgeoning collections that we no longer have room for (etc.) to just the right person, the passion grows...
 

Chris Radano

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I realize not every clock collector is like me. I don't see my clocks as part of an antiques collection. I do have some antiques besides clocks. But clocks are what I've focused on in the last 20 years.
Not only that, I only acquire clocks that I'm interested in. I don't obtain clocks en masse as a hoard of other clocks. I don't just buy a whole bunch of stuff at auctions with some clocks included.

I also think clocks sooth a "spiritual" aspect for me (as well as the many reasons why we collect clocks). For example, I have a 250 year old clock. Needless to say, the maker and the first owner are long gone. I think about what the world was like when the clock was new. I feel a bond with my ancestors. I think about the technology 250 years ago. I have something that was useful to someone in the past and has been handed down to others over the years. As a result, I find I'm not as fearful and more accepting of my own mortality. I feel like I don't have a need to control the future of my clock. After all, the clock was here long before me and made it this far. Our "stuff" outlives us. Weird and creepy, right?
 

novicetimekeeper

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Postage in the UK seems to be on the rise. I asked an auctioneer for a quote for a small clock, £299 for that lot and a further £8.50 for any subsequent lot.

I'm hoping it is a mistake.
 
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Jim DuBois

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The cost of shipping/mailing much of anything has gone well off the rails IMO. I have been shipping a certain product in a standard small priority USPS box for years. Same product, same weight. As little as 6-7 years ago it cost $9.95 to ship these boxes anyplace in the lower 48 states. Last month I was quoted $29.00 to ship the same box to one of the lower 48.
 

Salsagev

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I think my shoes and my life would last longer if I simply walked. :)



I don't understand a word spoken but modifying the chime melody is something I can not do. I wonder if the clockmaker was self-taught. In any case, impressive.



Hello Calvin. There's a whole lot to look at there. I'll just choose to narrow it down to the auction's "featured" clock, Ansonia's "Antique Wall Hanging Clock".

I see that it sold for $2,185 in February 2021.

Here's one that sold for $7,500 in October of 2004:
1536: Ansonia 'Antique' Ormolu-Mounted Oak Hanging Wall - Oct 23, 2004 | Weschler's in DC

$7,000 May of 2007: 2077: Ansonia Antique Hanging Clock NR - May 05, 2007 | Tom Harris Auctions in IA

The model's auction price gradually but steadily decreases through the years..

$2,000 also in February 2021 Ansonia "Antique Hanging" Wall Clock - Feb 27, 2021 | Fontaine's Auction Gallery in MA

Most recently (in my search results)
$2,300 in April 2021:Ansonia Antique Hanging Clock - Apr 24, 2021 | Schmidt's Antiques Inc. Since 1911 in MI

What I see is that if you take US inflation into consideration the drop in value is much more stunning/disappointing

$7,500 in 2004 is the equivalent of about $10,600 in 2021.
$2,300 in 2021 is the equivalent of about $1,625 in 2004

I know that you are very new to all of this Calvin. Some of these price points must be "Pre-historic" to you (even before you were born), but I hope that you can see how someone who has been collecting for a while might be deeply disappointed by talk of their "over priced" clocks. I know that you are just calling things as you see them and depreciation of one's collection is not your fault. Just be aware of the scale of loss many of us are seeing here.

This is an expensive hobby. A decade ago, my mentor didn't collect many clocks. He scoured local sources for under-priced clocks, fixed them and sold them when and where he could. He also did a lot of work on clocks owned by others, but Horology/Clock Repair was only a part-time job for him. Last I spoke with him, he had cut way back on clock work. A lot of it had to do with the local community environment he and his wife relocated to. The folks were not nearly as affluent. I also got the sense that it just wasn't worth his time and effort anymore.

Regards,

Bruce
I see what you mean. I spent 50 hundred for about 130 clocks and some are quite quality. But some of those clocks sold for quite high tho, right? However, the prices don't correspond with each other - some French statue clocks sold for 1000 dollars and others sold for under 300 dollars. I understand now that the inflation compensated for the higher price, right?


The cost of shipping/mailing much of anything has gone well off the rails IMO. I have been shipping a certain product in a standard small priority USPS box for years. Same product, same weight. As little as 6-7 years ago it cost $9.95 to ship these boxes anyplace in the lower 48 states. Last month I was quoted $29.00 to ship the same box to one of the lower 48.
Postage in the UK seems to be on the rise. I asked an auctioneer for a quote for a small clock, £299 for that lot and a further £8.50 for any subsequent lot.

I'm hoping it is a mistake.
I shipped a medium wall clock for 30 dollars the other day?
 

Bruce Alexander

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for most of us this is a passion, not an investment. And passion (like misery) loves company or we would all not be here.
Right. If you can't afford to receive dimes, nickels or pennies on the dollar, you can't afford to collect and trade clocks. :)
I'm not complaining. The market is what the market will be. If I could tell the future I'd play the next winning mega lottery number whenever I needed more cash.

The cost of shipping/mailing much of anything has gone well off the rails
I whole-heartedly agree Jim! In November of last year I paid a little over $100 to ship a Seth Thomas Ding-Dong #2 from an auction house in Florida to my home in Pennsylvania. The clock is your average sized Seth Thomas Adamantine Mantel Clock
Front.jpg

Nothing too huge or heavy but you can't ship it in a shoe box. The UPS Store (recommended by the Auction House) shipped it in a 20x20x16(?) box. It arrived with the glass broken because they did a crappy job packing it. I invoiced them $50 to replace the glass.

Ten years ago I paid about $38.00 to pack, ship and insure a comparably sized Seth Thomas unlisted Adamantine from New England. The UPS Store did an excellent job and the clock arrived as it was listed.


Front.JPG

Combine skyrocketing shipping costs with outrageous "Buyer's Premiums" and sometimes I feel like the "Ding-Dong".

inflation compensated for the higher price, right?
Calvin, when you're trying to get a good idea about the costs of inflation, it helps to go to an online inflation calculator. Here's a useful one with a very wide date range: U.S. Inflation Calculator: 1635→2021, Department of Labor data

In my example of shipping costs above, I'll input $38 spent in 2010 to find out what the equivalent would be in 2021:
$38 in 2010 → 2021 | Inflation Calculator The calculator gives the answer as "$38 in 2010 is worth $46.54 today" (2021)

That tells me that the shipper in Florida probably still made a profit even after refunding $50 to me for the broken glass. If they didn't, too bad! They should not have tried to gouge me.

You can also use the calculator to do a reverse "lookup" of today's prices equivalent to some time in the past.

Go to the calculator link and play around with some numbers. You'll quickly see what I mean. There are always other variables you must try to consider but this gives you a decent metric I think.

Regards folks....(again, I'm not complaining)

Bruce
 
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Gage_robertson_collector

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As a relatively young collector, I've been pondering what clock collecting will look like in the future especially regarding my generation. Part of me worries that the interest in antique clocks will continue to dwindle (watches and the sort will likely do fine, since they're in-fashion and luxury items) because there's just an honest lack of interest/awareness regarding the hobby of collecting/repairing clocks.

Not many people in my generation want to spend the time to get an antique clock properly in-beat and regulated to run accurately across the week, especially since we have extremely quick access to digitalized time on demand (which never needs to be adjusted most of the time unless changing time zones). Clocks that don't work get thrown out, much like the mindset of "replace, don't repair". Of course, as time goes on there will be less and less people to fix antique clocks or family heirlooms, which would naturally present a pretty significant issue. I suspect high-value clocks will of course get specialized treatment and care, but the vast majority of mass-produced clocks we commonly encounter might face the aforementioned issue.

Your thoughts on the issue?
I think that it is a shame that that is the case, that the younger generation is starting to become uninterested in clocks, and people are starting to loose interest in reparing them. I am a young antique clock ethusiast, and one of the things I am trying to do is to spread the word that antques are something to be coveted, learned about, and restored. I do this by posting my latest projects on paces like instagram, (gages_auto_detailing) and collectorsweekly.com, and here! The best thing to do, in my opinion is to get peoples interest to the topic. Show them the beuty of the art, and the fascination and satisfaction that can be attained from investing in a hobby like this.
 

Bruce Barnes

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Stepping back and viewing the subject empirically and not just as a narrow vertical I see very rapidly changing views and perceptions regarding History it self.In many cases history was last year and the Great War was Viet Nam and the educational system and society continually perpetuate these attitudes.
I am a history buff and I have a very high regard for the craftsman of yesteryear, their skills and their boundless creativity.
My clocks,barometers and thermometers will more than likely be sold with few or none kept in the family but hope springs eternal that maybe someone else who has the interest and respect for these instruments will become a future care taker.Bruce
 
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D.th.munroe

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I'm not really a collector. I'm just a repairer I can't really afford or find the ones I would like to collect and study.
I do have a large amount of clocks that I acquired from a clockmaker who passed, unfortunately when he passed it all went into unheated storage and 90% is rusty and corroded. Some of these were great clocks, and some I assume were outside for a long time before he passed.
Alot are what some people consider junk, but there is a few oddball ones with different features (like a single hammer westminster chime, a passing strike english gallery clock this one was outside for years, almost 2 junghans symphoniums, and few scarce watches) which I assume he collected.
I'm just hoping someday some people will enjoy these clocks when I'm finished fixing them and maybe one will spark an interest for someone.
Dan
 

Salsagev

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Yes, a high end clock into ones collection can spark a good hobby. Being taken advantage of or low luck May end an interest (can occurs with lack of resources or knowledge).
 

bruce linde

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my point is that every time a collection (or pile) of clocks changes hands... or gets piled in a barn or backyard.... more are lost due to attrition... and rust... and the elements.

add to that the most people think electronic is better than mechanical (without really thinking about it), and there's far more working to erode the existence of mechanical clocks than preserve... our efforts here not withstanding.

i will now be winding my clocks (every tuesday morning!) and enjoying every second of it... but as i love them i still worry about their ultimate survival. not much i can do... except for everything i'm already doing! :)
 

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I'm not really a collector. I'm just a repairer I can't really afford or find the ones I would like to collect and study.
I do have a large amount of clocks that I acquired from a clockmaker who passed, unfortunately when he passed it all went into unheated storage and 90% is rusty and corroded. Some of these were great clocks, and some I assume were outside for a long time before he passed.
Alot are what some people consider junk, but there is a few oddball ones with different features (like a single hammer westminster chime, a passing strike english gallery clock this one was outside for years, almost 2 junghans symphoniums, and few scarce watches) which I assume he collected.
I'm just hoping someday some people will enjoy these clocks when I'm finished fixing them and maybe one will spark an interest for someone.
Dan
Dan, you and I seem to be on a similar trajectory with our clock passion - I'm an accumulator, not a collector. Fixing them is the thing that interests me, and having trained as a physicist, I enjoy working on all kinds of machines and tools because it allows me to "climb inside the minds" of those that designed and built them, and to expand my knowledge as well as approach to things. My favorite question is "Why did they do it this way?" The "Aha!" moment can be a real rush...
 

bruce linde

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The "Aha!" moment can be a real rush...

mine is when i've gone through one... inevitably, multiple times :)... and realize there are no more issues and the movement is happy and the clock running and i can move on to the next one... love that feeling.
 
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Schatznut

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Stepping back and viewing the subject empirically and not just as a narrow vertical I see very rapidly changing views and perceptions regarding History it self.In many cases history was last year and the Great War was Viet Nam and the educational system and society continually perpetuate these attitudes.
I am a history buff and I have a very high regard for the craftsman of yesteryear, their skills and their boundless creativity.
My clocks,barometers and thermometers will more than likely be sold with few or none kept in the family but hope springs eternal that maybe someone else who has the interest and respect for these instruments will become a future care taker.Bruce
Bruce, I appreciate your comments regarding history. The term "state of the art" defines an instant in time, and if we view it through the historical lens, we can see the underlying cleverness and intelligence that went into our clocks whenever they were created. For example, I recently went through a plastic-and-quartz Winnie the Pooh clock that has been my daughter's since she was little. Not my thing, but for sentimental reasons. I found a whole new vista of knowledge and thinking inside, with the most fascinating aspect being the choice of materials. There were at least three different types of plastic in the gears, depending where in the train they were, including one engineered resin; one stainless-steel shaft and a complex stamped beryllium-copper drag washer. A lot of thought and good materials science went into it. Then there was the printed-circuit assembly and induction motor for generating the 1PPS. After I got rid of all the corrosion that had accumulated due to its having been stored with the battery in it, it settled down to perfect operation. It cost maybe $7 when it was new. Not a Seiko by any means, but an honest, well-engineered little clock.

The human race has not become more intelligent with the passage of time; only more knowledgeable. You may enjoy reading "Everyman as Historian" by Carl Becker. A challenging and thought-provoking read:

 

Bruce Alexander

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"only more knowledgeable". I like that. I'm not sure we can really measure fine gradations of intelligence. We certainly know when something is wrong with the brain. We can measure and graph certain metrics that are useful to society, but everyone has his or her gifts. It seems to me that schools are throwing a lot more information at younger children these days.

I do like the 3-D puzzle, power flow aspect of clock repair as well.

Another Bruce
 

bruce linde

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Another Bruce
although i do sometimes refer to you as 'other bruce', you actually joined up a year before i did... which (technically) makes ME 'other bruce'! :)

all that is to say: i like 'another bruce' :)
 

Bruce Alexander

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The Private Conversation address auto-completion utility (or whatever it is technically) returns nine Bruces. As far as I can tell, you're the most active with a wide variety of contributions to the community and environment. Thanks for all you do, man. :thumb:
 

MuseChaser

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...

The human race has not become more intelligent with the passage of time; only more knowledgeable...
One of the best quotes I've seen in a long time, although I confess I even have my doubts about the last clause... in the paraphrased words of President Reagan, it's not that we don't know a lot more, it's that a lot of what we know just isn't so...

As to the topic at hand, my interest in clocks began back in the 1960s with four clocks I was intrigued with in my Pennsylvania Dutch-heritage grandparents' house a half hour or so from Lebanon, PA. Going from my childhood memory coupled with what I've learned about clocks in the past six months, they had a Seth Thomas black mantel (or similar from another maker), a weight-driven Ogee of some kind, a typical ornate kitchen gingerbread clock, and I can't recall the other one. Fast forward to the early 1970s, when my father and I built an Emperor grandfather clock kit together. Fast forward to 1983, when I purchased a cheap Centurion striking wall clock from Monkey Wards for my wife for our first anniversary, a one-day Hubert Herr cuckoo several years later, a Waterbury tambour in an antique shop on PEI on a rainy day during a family camping trip, and a 1932 Kern art deco anniversary clock ... for our 15th anniversary. That was it, up until October of 2020, when I had to learn to repair the suspension unit of the Kern, found this forum, and here we are, over sixty clocks and torn-down-and-renovated movements later.

As with Schatznut and a few others, my interest in clocks isn't in the perceived monetary value, or anything close to investment purposes. I love the ingenuity, the mechanics, the art, the physics, the puzzles, the history.... if all of my clocks became completely worthless immediately, or they ALL became worth thousands of dollars each, it wouldn't matter one bit or change my life at all. Of the sixty-plus clocks I've acquired and renovated since October, the most expensive was about $75 including shipping. Most were significantly below that, with quite a few in the $20-$30 range (again, including shipping). Torsion, tambours, mantel clocks, wall clocks, school clocks, American, German, Japanese, English/British, strike, chime, time-only, weight, spring,... a little bit of everything. Given the fact that most of the clocks I've purchased are now running well and looking somewhere between fairly nice and beautiful (depending upon what the goals for each clock were), and all were purchased in non-working and neglected condition, they are probably worth, from a monetary standpoint, more than they were eight months ago. The joy I got from saving each one of them, and the education and skills I learned from the process and the many fine helpful folks here, is priceless.

If we are considering, when we say "the future of clock collecting," the number of people or percentage of the population who continue to be interested in the pursuit, then perhaps we could achieve a bit more optimism by looking at it differently. I know the future of clock collecting is very bright, because there are a lot of neglected relatively inexpensive clocks out there just waiting for me to find and repair. Couldn't be brighter. If one's goal is to turn a profit on clock-collecting or enjoys collecting only clocks with high dollar values, then perhaps clocks aren't REALLY what one loves to collect in the first place?
 

Schatznut

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... The joy I got from saving each one of them, and the education and skills I learned from the process and the many fine helpful folks here, is priceless...
MC, you nailed it right there...
 
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Bruce Alexander

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When sellers are practically paying someone to take a clock (or clocks) off of their hands, I suppose it is not hard to dismiss the sagging market value of many common clocks. I find it enjoyable to see others' collections and to learn more about what they collect and why, especially when they've spent a good deal of their spare time and money on their collections. By the way, Collectorsweekly.com is a good website to browse all sorts of things that people like to collect, including clocks and watches.

Although "spare" parts are often easy to find, in my experience, cheap clocks frequently take more effort to service/restore. They have their place, and all have a story to tell. They can also offer low-risk learning opportunities and a sense of satisfaction when we bring a clock with one foot in the dumpster back to life.

I've known a number of people who love working on clocks but do not spend their time or money collecting them. One member here would always recommend to newbies in the Clock Repair forum that they buy "spare" movements sold on eBay for practice. As I recall, he had a passion for working on aircraft.

If you ever have an opportunity, tour the Nemours Estate in Delaware, consider doing so. The DuPonts had an early clock maker in their family tree. That explains the large, valuable French clock collection found throughout the Estate.

See: https://mb.nawcc.org/threads/a-whole-lotta-french.155653/post-1298951

I don't think that wealthy folks throw money away too often. They collect money as well as the expensive things money can buy...or so I'm told. :chuckling:

Regards,

Bruce
 
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fido

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Interesting topic,
I feel there will always be collectors of all things ,clocks included, our own personalities and budgets dictate what we collect.
It would not be much fun siting around twiddling our thumbs for the rest of our lives,saving money and being the richest person in the cemetery .
I am sure the person who pays $150 million for a painting (good for his ego) does not say I should have bought a $10.00 print.

Quality and rarity always comes a a cost,with our knowledge we always try and by the best(depends on our budget)

Collecting is a passion for most of us ,it is usually not about money ,it is about appreciation of fine workmanship ,history and culture of things that will never be made again ever ,the items of the past would cost many ,many times more if made today(this cannot happen skills and knowledge not here any more).
There is no comparison to having a battery operated $10.00 clock and a spectacular mechanical clock of the 17th-18th cent in a magnificent case.

The enjoyment we get from our hobbies and passions keep us alive (better than being dead)

Regards Fido
 

roughbarked

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I think I'll donate my collection to a museum so that they pay the cost of throwing it away?
If they want me to arrange it like a Salvador Dali painting, I could arrange that.

I hear of people getting deceased estates but none of mine is going to end up there. My children will have to chuck it away. I say this because though I have tried to keep the better pieces, the rest is really the flotsam of fashion.
I may want to keep repairing and renovating timepieces in retirement but with at least hundreds or thousands of unwanted timepieces in my possession maybe I should toss it away now if I can find a way where that doesn't cost me or my children. In short, I'll never use it all even if I remain capable as long as many here.

Maybe the best I could do would perhaps be to advertise;
That I may have a timepiece that was once left at said Jeweller.
If you think there may have been one from your family, please contact me?
 

Bruce Alexander

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I don't think that wealthy folks throw money away too often. They collect money as well as the expensive things money can buy...or so I'm told. :chuckling:

Regards,

Bruce
Slight correction, "They hoard money as well as the expensive things...." There is a significant difference.
 
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Schatznut

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I'd just like to repeat what Bruce said earlier in the thread. His sentiments mirror mine. I don't know what will happen in the future as regards to the hobby, but I can certainly appreciate my clocks for what they represent. I don't look on them as an investment as much as something that gives me great personal satisfaction. The intersection of physics, mechanics and art hits my sweet spot. They keep me mentally engaged and my fondest wish is that they find appreciative owners after I'm gone. With every passing year, we lose a lot of accumulated knowledge, and that makes me sad. Hopefully much of that will live on in this forum to be passed down to future collectors.
Roger that. I'm a physicist by training and degree, inherited the love of art from my mother, and still bust my knuckles regularly working on one of my other collector passions - sports cars. I also collect film cameras (digital kinda ruined that area, much as quartz clocks have ruined this one). I've been bitten by what is called "NAS" - Nikon Acquisition Syndrome - and have accumulated a fair collection of their lenses and bodies, along the way having custody of a museum-perfect Photomic FTn Apollo. My love affair with that camera was consummated during a photographic journey through Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone many years ago. Alas, I had to part with it during a financial downturn...

I'm going to go off the end of the porch with this one, but to understand our tendencies towards mania in acquisition and collection, I recommend the book "Old Tractors and the Men That Love Them" by Roger Welsch. It's full of wisdom and belly laughs, and although the subject isn't clocks, it will feel very close to home.
 

Bruce Barnes

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"old tractors and men that love them"

9 years old, Toledo,Ohio, huge John Deere tractor with a monstrous fly wheel start, then on to an Oliver with elliptical wheels that a 9 year old had a hard time getting out of deep furrow........as things are progressing, in future generations clocks and old instruments will be fond memories by those that can still remember.
Bruce
 

ChimeTime

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I hear of people getting deceased estates but none of mine is going to end up there. My children will have to chuck it away. I say this because though I have tried to keep the better pieces, the rest is really the flotsam of fashion.
An idea.... There is a Group on Facebook (I know, I know) run by members called NAWCC Mart Buy & Sell ( Facebook Groups ). I occurs to me that might be a good vehicle to distribute some clocks to younger members who are actively looking for clocks. Being members, they have more than a passing intertest. Sell them for actual shipping costs plus $5 to cover your gas to the PO. Sure beats having them taken to the dump or languishing forever on Facebook Marketplace.
 

Betzel

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I'm also not a fan of social media, preferring to keep Orwell on my bookshelf, but we're all being engulfed just as he had envisioned by generational change. Still, I support the idea of encouraging our passion by getting younger people involved. There's always someone in the back of the room or walking around a show taking it all in. They are looking for an opportunity to fall or be pushed into a rabbit hole.

We all (?) have something lying around that brings us less joy now than it once did. A well placed discount, personal donation or raffle for something less valuable like a "learner" or alarm clock seems like a good idea. I have a few old tools that bring back memories of the guy who gave it to me or sold it to me cheap at a clock fair. Because they were from some old guy, they're my favorites. Now, it seems I'm that old guy!
 

Cheezhead

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There is no comparison to having a battery operated $10.00 clock and a spectacular mechanical clock of the 17th-18th cent in a magnificent case.
At risk of being abrasive but intentionally contrary I take exception to this view. The person who made a 17th-18th century clock in a magnificent case could not save his/her soul from Hades if required to make a quartz clock movement to do so. On the other hand a person who could design a quartz clock movement now could likely make a 17th-18th century type clock. I can't help but be appreciative of quartz clocks that are cheap, accurate, compact, need a cheap AA battery once per year with no need for maintenance and winding. The accumulated knowledge invested in a quartz movement is impressive! If the quartz movement and AA battery were invented first there would be no mechanical movement clocks. Your view may differ.
 

Chris Radano

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In high school I used a c. 1980 Japanese quartz "Sloan" alarm clock. That thing was my companion. I think it was a travel size. It was really small, the entire length was about 3".The size was appealing to me, I think it would be accurate to say it's dependability planted the seed that grew into an interest in clocks. I found an image of the exact clock, but the webpage is no longer active:
It took an unusual small size battery. I had to replace the battery about once every 1-2 years, and I had to search for the battery as it wasn't available in every store. That thing was my buddy. Eventually, after about 15 or so years, I think I didn't have a battery in it. Then I put in a battery and it didn't work, probably was dirty so I tossed it.
I haven't needed to use an alarm clock in about 30 years, I wake up on my body's clock.
Today I would certainly use a quartz clock (although I don't), even though I am an antique clock collector. I use the cable box instead, to set my mechanical clocks to. But I would use a quartz clock. I need something to set my mechanical clocks to. My old clocks are accurate sometimes for months on end, and I only need to wind and they need no further adjustment. Some of my collector clocks are accurate on winding day, then they may gain a minute or two, then they are on point the following week (for an 8 day clock).
But a device like a quartz clock will remain in my timekeeping arsenal, probably until the end.
 
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ManFromAbora

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Here's a question for you all: how many clocks would you have if you were restricted to buying only from local selections?
No internet, not much in the way of roadtrips or phonecalls. Just whatever would have been attainable in your town.
I would be minus 2 clocks. Half of collection I inherited from my father when he passed, and that was when I got bit by the bug. I've since doubled the size, all from local acquistions via garage sales, Antique stores, estate sales, and thrift store finds. I've only bought two clocks online, one from eBay, and another from Goodwill auction that was pretty cheap. I tend to focus on older clocks, although I have a few 'modern made' clocks in my collection.
 

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