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BELL-TIME CLOCKS
Antique Clocks Sold, Purchased, & Restored

(by appointment)

53 Poor Street, Andover, MA 01810-2501
Phone: 978-475-5001      bell-time@comcast.net

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             CLOCKS FOR SALE

 

     Antique clocks are 'green'.    No batteries, no plastic, no overseas manufacturing or resource consumption.  Your own energy powers these clocks every time you wind them up.

     Timepieces and instruments shown below may be personally viewed and purchased at the home-based shop in Andover by appointment.  All clocks are professionally serviced by Bell-Time Clocks and are in good running order.   They are guaranteed to be as described.

 

    Below the photo section are text descriptions of each item, keyed to its inventory number.  Larger and more detailed photos can be provided by email.   When at all possible, pre-purchase inspection is strongly recommended.  Packing and shipping, as noted on the "Ordering and Shipping" page, are available only on smaller less-fragile items; otherwise, pickup or delivery is required.

     Also below are some helpful thoughts on originality, restoration and refinishing.

 

 


             

                                                                     

                          

     

   DESCRIPTIONS -  CLOCKS FOR SALE

       (listed dimension is the approximate height of the clock)

534    Partner's Clock, W.Allemann, Montreux.  Swiss double-side Deco-style desk clock with faces on both sides.  Lacquered brass and beveled glass.  8-day jeweled movement.  5".

869    Partner's Clock, Shreve, Crump & Low, Boston, Swiss, c.1955Concord Watch Co. 15-jewel clock with faces on both sides.  Lacquered brass and beveled glass.  3.5".

1486  Pocket Sundial, London, c.1900.  Brass pocketwatch-form case with equation of time chart inside hinged lid.  Folding gnomon with degrees indicator above compass.   2" diameter.

1549  Seth Thomas Regulator No.1, c.1865.  Classic early weight-driven mahogany 8-day wall clock.  Rare embosesed pendulum and complete original blue paper label and beat scale.  Designed by Silas Terry who sold patent to Seth Thomas in 1859.  34".
1769  Solargraph Pocket Sundial, Sullivan, Boston,
c.1880.  Rare portable instrument in fitted oval mahogany case and cover.  Built-in compass and fold-down gnomon.  Partial original paper label on bottom.  3.5" across.

1780 Picture-Frame Austrian Clock, c1840Hand-painted and gilt-wood case.  Unusual 2-day spring-wound movement strikes hours on gong.  14".
1791 Seth Thomas Regulator No.1 Extra,
1875.  Early version of this rare 8-day weight-driven wall clock, with Silas Terry movement.  "Young Men's Union" was a service organization in Salem, Mass.  41".

1803 Illinois "Bunn Special" Railroad Watch, 1924.  21-jewel 16-size railroad-grade pocketwatch adjusted to 6 positions and temperature.  Gold-fill case inscribed to "Orrin A.. Karr from Malcolm F. Jones Nov.30, 1935". 

1858 Colonial Mfg. Co., Zeeland, Michigan, Floor Clock, c.1920.  Model 1340 mahogany case with brass dial.  German Winterhalder 2-weight movement strikes hours and half-hours on deep slow gong.  81".

1861 Anemometer Air Flow Meter, Keuffel & Esser, New York, 1927.  Measures passing cubic feet of air on dial with five subsidiary pointers.  Original fitted mahogany box with instruction booklet and calibration sheet.  4"

3008 Banjo Clock, c. 1930.  Walnut finish, distinctive octagonal head, and nautical scenes. 8-day movement strikes the hours on two chime rods and half hours on one. Movement stamped by Sessions Clock Company. 33".

 

 

Originality, Restoration and Refinishing:

Largely due to the PBS Antiques Roadshow and a steady drumbeat from ultra-high-end antiques dealers, buyers and sellers of all levels of antiques struggle with whether an antique is "all original", and what it means if it isn't.

First of all, determining originality is a vague science, since none of us is old enough to have owned an antique since it was made  (unless it is a recently-made fake).   So nobody can state with 100% certainty that the object is entirely original.  A good example is the reverse-paint glasses of period banjo clocks.  One of the country's leading experts on these timepieces estimates that only about 1% of these clocks retain their first glass tablets, since they are so prone to breakage when the weight cord snaps and the 6-7 pound cast-iron weight crashes to the bottom of the case.   If this happened 10 or 20 years after the clock was made in 1820, and a newly painted glass was installed at that time, that new glass now is nearly two centuries old, and probably impossible to distinguish from the one it replaced.  And you certainly would not want the original frayed and dried-out weight cord still holding up that weight in your own prize banjo timepiece, so some components of antiques cannot and should not bear the maker's fingerprints upon them.

 

Another example of questionable originality, and conservation philosophies, was discussed in the December 2014 issue of Antiquarian Horology.  Within an article about marine chronometers, we read:  "It is interesting to note in the Kullberg and Mercer records that, when a chronometer was returned from India for cleaning, invariably the dial was re-silvered.  These were working instruments and for the user a readable dial was important.  This perhaps casts doubt on the present conservation trend, of retaining box chronometers with discoloured dials as examples of original silvering."

However, the main point is whether this truly matters, and whether a restored antique should be debased and devalued after a skilled craftsman, recently or a century ago, has returned it to the condition envisioned and executed by the maker.  Certainly, Simon or Aaron Willard would be horrified to see some worn, beat-up clock case of theirs being extolled for its "original surface", and priced at some multiple of another of their clocks which, with proper restoration, appears as it did when they delivered the clock to its first owner.  And who now, except perhaps for the most avid collector or museum curator, wants that beat-up clock standing in their living room?

Of course, there are antiques which truly have been "messed with" or suffered from improper attempts at repair and restoration.  The clock cases sprayed with gloss plastic varnish, the clock dial numbers crudely strengthened with Magic Markers, the aluminum Phillips-head screws poking out; these kinds of "muddlings" are all offensive and require significantly lower valuations.  Also, many of us do appreciate a decent old patina or surface, prefering our antiques to show some age, so these could sometimes deserve to be valued higher.   And we do respect and reserve the term "museum quality" for the rare piece with a provable history of never having had more than a dusting or wipe with an oiled cloth.

As a dealer of good and affordably-priced vintage clocks, I want my customers to have enjoy examples that anybody would be proud to display and run.  If the finish or face has been expertly restored, that will be noted but not condemned.  If it all is original as can be reasonably determined, that will be noted as well, but not as an excuse to double the price.  But unless the clock is headed for the Smithsonian, the key issue for me is whether the clock looks correct and shows respect to its original maker's vision.

I believe that this misplaced emphasis on "all original" is damaging to collectors and casual owners of antiques.  It forces them to pay more than they should for alleged originality, it encourages deliberate forgery by unscrupulous dealers, and it discourages many potential owners from making purchases of antiques, in the fear that they they will buy something that will later by condemned by some expert for some evidence of restoration.

I would like as many people as possible to buy and appreciate all kinds of objects (especially clocks) from our past.  I want these antiques to be appealing and bring pleasure to their owners, even if some loving hands along the way have revived them.  As we say, we are only the trustees of antiques, holding and preserving them for future generations, and these antiques certainly must include the ones we have carfully restored to their former glory.

In 2006, my wife Jeanne Schinto wrote an article for Maine Antique Digest about the 10th anniversary of the PBS show.  The following excerpt addresses the issue of "refinishing".

"The origins of only one phenomenon, it is agreed, can be traced absolutely to the Roadshow. Skinner's Stephen Fletcher said he and company colleague Karen Keane were giving a lecture in Newport, Rhode Island, about their Roadshow experiences when they asked their audience what they'd learned from the series. "Fourteen people in unison said: 'Don't refinish!'"
The "don't-mess-with-it" lesson may have been learned too well to suit Professional Refinishing Magazine (now called Finishing & Restoration). In its June 2002 issue, the Roadshow's then executive producer, Peter Cook, published a conciliatory article in response to a letter WGBH had received from Bob Flexner, the magazine's editor. It voiced what was recently said to us by Leslie Keno: "If you have a pressed oak rocker that has been painted several times, I think you can go ahead and strip it. It all depends on the piece. It doesn't apply to every single piece in the world." The Keno twins, of course, delivered the famous bad news about the refinished Boston high chest to its owner on the Roadshow's debut in Concord, Massachusetts, which aired on March 6, 1997. Value: $100,000 to $200,000 if she'd left it alone; $50,000, since she hadn't."

Finally, the eminent British horologist, Derek Roberts, in his classic book British Longcase Clocks had this to say:  "The question 'Won't I reduce the value and originality of a clock if I restore the dial?' is often asked.  The answer to this is that the dial will almost certainly already have been restored several times during its lifetime, so the finish you are looking at is not original anyway... Brass and silver, when they do tarnish, often do so unevenly, possibly because they have been handled or the protective lacquer has broken down in places.  They gradually turn a brown/black color which can only be regarded as unsightly.   Nothing is to be gained by retaining this any more than you would leave a pair of brass candelsticks unpolished."