Antiquing on a Sunday afternoon

Carriage clock with Jeweler's inscription
Carriage clock with Jeweler’s inscription

Sadly the number of antique shops in Nova Scotia is dwindling. We were antiquing in the city of Halifax (Nova Scotia, Canada) this past spring and one of the store owners remarked that there used to be dozens of antique shops in the city, now only a few remain. There are still a few antique shops left in the rural areas and one of our favorites is located in Great Village, Nova Scotia. We decided on a little drive to Great village on a sunny fall Sunday. We were not disappointed in the variety of clocks we discovered. Although I saw all the following clocks during our day of antiquing I bought only one, the Kern “diamond face” 400 day clock (see photo below).

Window display
Unknown French clock
Unknown French clock

I want to give readers a sense of what is out there if you are collector like myself  or you are new to collecting. Now is an excellent time to buy. There are certainly deals to be found and plenty of clocks in the shops. My personal experience is that the antique stores are great places to buy clocks but it can be bit of a gamble. For example, the Kern 400 day clock was advertised for a very fair price complete with glass dome. I asked the store owner if they knew anything about clocks and they said “no, nothing at all”. Sometimes that is a very good answer! The tag on the clock said “as is”. The owner evidently thought the pendulum balls were seized. Prior to the purchase I discovered, that they were, in fact, in their locked position. I got the clock home, unlocked it, gave a little push and it has been running for the past week.

Stamps for sale
Stamps for sale

You can get a “steal” of a deal, a clunker or something in between in an antique shop. In this same shop two years ago I bought an Arthur Pequegnat Brandon wall clock for under $200. The case is in excellent shape as is the dial but the movement, though barely running, required servicing. Even though I had to put a little more money into the clock I still consider it a great deal!

Having some knowledge of clock models, styles and types in particular is an advantage. Or, perhaps you might have a good sense that what you are looking at is a good deal. In the case of the Kern 400 day clock I inspected it beforehand and found that it was not only complete but in excellent condition. The $58 Garrard time and strike (photo below) might be a good deal but if it is missing the pendulum you are going to have to search long and hard for a replacement or buy one which adds to the cost. You might ask yourself, what else is missing and how much more money would I have to put into it? The Garrard was missing the front glass and I could not figure out how it was attached so I passed on it. Those are some of the factors to consider when you see something at an attractive price.

A doomed Ogee
A doomed Ogee

In the case of the carriage clock (first photo) the seller wants $120 but the day I was there they were offering a 20% discount which works out to $96. There is a jewelers inscription on the front which says Ryrie Bros. Toronto. Ryrie Bros was a jeweler in Toronto and was incorporated in 1905 with James Ryrie as president and W.M. Birks as vice president. In 1924 the firm changed it’s name to Ryrie Birks and finally in 1933 became Birks. As any Canadian knows Birks (Maison Birk) is one of the premier jewelers in this country. One could comfortably date this clock at between 1905 and 1924. Although the tag says that it is French it is likely American. It might be desirable however there are two bothersome issues that I could see right away with this carriage clock. One, the left side beveled glass panel has a chip in the lower back corner and two, there are noticeable hairline cracks in the upper two corners of the face. The tag said it was in working order. $96 may not be a bad price when you consider that comparable clocks fetch upwards of $130 or more + shipping on Ebay. If it is still there before Christmas I might take a second look.

Unknown "marble" desk clock
Unknown “marble” desk clock

This unknown “marble” desk clock was very interesting and quite heavy. It had an alarm clock style movement with a key wind and an adjustment for the time, and what appears to be brass bird (duck?) on it’s right side.

Kern diamond face 400 day clock
Kern diamond face 400 day clock

As I mentioned I bought this Kern 400 day “diamond face” clock. It is in excellent condition; unlocked the pendulum, oiled the movement, gave it a gentle push of the pendulum and now running very well.

Could be Session, Ingraham, Ansonia
Could be Sessions, Ingraham, Ansonia

In decent shape, 1873 it said on the label, but the seller wanted too much, $450 if I recall. The seller claims it is running, according the tag. Is it a Sessions, Ingraham, Ansonia or …..?

Sessions shelf clock
Sessions shelf clock in oak case

This clock looked to be in decent shape, the strike side appeared to be working properly. The case is oak but when I picked it up to examine it more closely, the construction, fit and finish had a cheap feel. There was a card inside describing a servicing performed in 1994. $68 – a little high, I thought but there may not be a lot wrong with it.


I like this clock but know very little about crystal regulators. What I do know is that most American companies made them, from simple brass and glass cases to elaborate cases with cast and gilt ornaments. Equivalent French examples seem to be more valuable than American ones. They can be highly expensive. Generally, the more elaborate the case, the more expensive the clock, even though the simple cases could easily be considered more tasteful. I remember seeing a very ornate one on Antique Roadshow which was valued at $8000. Condition is very important with these clocks, including the condition of the beveled glass, dials, and original finish (generally gilt) on the case ornaments. Is the pendulum supposed to be filled with anything? Mercury? These cylinders looked empty. The seller claims the clock is running and wants $365. A fair price? I don’t know. It needs a thorough cleaning though.

Garrard mantel clock
Garrard mantel clock

This English Garrard clock had a well constructed case and appeared to have a well-made, robust movement but was missing its front glass. I have been to this particular shop several times and nobody seems to be interested in the clock though the price has not changed.

Seth Thomas made by Talley Industries

I noticed a Seth Thomas mantel clock in a dark corner. This particular example is one that I would not recommend to anyone unless you are a fan of Talley Industries. It is a Seth Thomas Westminster chime mantel clock made by Talley Industries, Peterborough, Ontario in the early seventies with what appears to be an imported West German Hermle movement. This clock was cheaply constructed (corners were chipped), likely has the dreaded plated pivot problem and has absolutely no collector value. Those in the clock collecting world familiar with Seth Thomas know that it was a reputable clock maker for many years and produced many fine clocks but the Talley Industries era must have been a very dark period for the company!

A unique clock design

I hope this blog article gives the reader some ideas when it comes to antique shop clock shopping. It certainly pays to do your research. Although I love browsing the shops I do not limit my shopping to them. I acquire many of my clocks from a variety of sources including Ebay, Kijiji, and word of mouth but I like browsing through antique shops because there are always other interesting items that catch the eye.

2 thoughts on “Antiquing on a Sunday afternoon

  1. I love antique shops, but they are slowly disappearing. People these days want shiny new electronics, flat screen TVs, and sound systems, not “fancy looking old junk”. They would prefer to buy cheap Ikea furniture every 5 years because it breaks than invest in a nice old piece that has lasted 200 years and survived countless moves.

    Anyhow, I wanted to comment on some of these clocks. The doomed Ogee is actually something that I would grab if it were cheap (like… 20$). The wood from the backboard can be used for repairs, and the front of the case could be converted into an ogee mirror, or used for case repairs.

    For me, the nicest two clocks in the bunch are the mystery domed French clock, and the carriage clock. I don’t yet own a carriage clock, but most of the ones I’ve seen have all been far too expensive for simple desktop timepieces. It’s also farm more desirable if you can find one with the original travel box.

    The crystal regulator is nice, but I would only consider buying a French one, and not for more than 150$. They’re not really the kind of clock I’d chase after. I fixed one for a client that had chamlevee enamel work on the 4 corner columns (ribs), the dial, and pendulum (in shades of blue and white), and the base and top were in green Onyx. Kind of pretty, but meh. Yes, mercury in the pendulum vials.

    The Garrard glass is either held in place with a complete snap-in ring (likely), OR it could also be a snap-fit bezel. I have one very old Austrian clock that needs a snap-in bezel. The bezel is a solid piece of cast brass with a small groove along the edge. The piece of glass needs to be ground to the exact shape. The bezel is heated to expand it slightly, and then the glass is dropped in. Once the bezel cools the glass is trapped. Quite complicated, and I will need to mail it off to a specialty glass shop no doubt.

    The store regulator has the wrong hands, and the replaced paper dial is much too small.

    I remember seeing one of those Talley (junk) Seth Thomas clocks on eBay where two people got into a bidding war over it, and drove the price up to over 1000$ US. I could NOT believe it. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen them as cheap as 50$. The only nice thing about the “crazy” one is that it had been fully cleaned and serviced.

    The “unique design” clock (the last one) is for sure a Hermle piece that was recently manufactured (about 20-30 years old at most). They are not bad because they are time only, but not the best value, as I doubt they will ever be highly prized or collectible. I have a clock with the same movement and it is made to look like a York Minster Abbey skeleton clock. It just has a laser cut front and back panel of decoratively cut (very thin) brass. It fits under a 400-day style dome, and I’ve seen a “Big Ben” style one as well. Currently it’s not running because the crappy auto beat escape wheel has some damaged teeth. I might change the wheel entirely to a standard recoil. It’s pretty low on my priorities list.


    1. Hi JC,
      They wanted $125!!! for the doomed Ogee. I went back again to find that carriage clock but it was either bought or the owner decided not to sell it. Re. the crystal regulator, I would also prefer a French one over an American one. You could be right about the Garrard. A hassle to replace the glass. Did not notice the store regulator at first but when I looked at the photo again it struck me that it was not the right paper dial.


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