Why are these clocks so cheap? Discounting the wild prices some seem to be asking on online for-sale sites, a good example can be had for almost nothing. Why? Allow me to explain.
This 30 hour time and strike Waterbury Ogee clock was discovered at an antique store an hour’s drive away. The store has a well-deserved reputation for pricing items for a quick sale and each time we visit there is always a new selection of interesting clocks as well as plenty of other fascinating antiques.
Ogee clock, clock design that originated in the United States in the 1830s, distinguished by a case (usually pine) the front outer edges of which are curved into an S-shape (ogee). This shape is formed by the union of a convex and a concave line. A mass-produced variant of the shelf clock, the ogee clock stands about 30 inches (75 cm) high and is usually weight-driven. The movements were usually made of brass and were made to run for 30 hours or eight days. (Brittanica.com)
The Ogee clock – the beginning
In 1839 the first prototype movement was produced for Chauncey Jerome by his brother Noble in Connecticut, USA. Jerome thought that a simple one-day clock could be produced far more cheaply than those with wooden movements at the time. Brass movements were more robust, could be transported easily and were unaffected by humidity. The simple case added to the movement was the Ogee named for its “S” shaped moldings. The success of the Ogee clock convinced other makers that there was a lot of money to be made in clock production.
My new acquisition
The seller knew nothing about clocks and his only interest was to move the item. The proprietor said it was not working. Just as well, I bought the clock for almost nothing. In my opinion these clocks are terribly undervalued.
It came with a winding crank and both weights but no pendulum. A 2.2oz pendulum bob was later fitted to the movement.
The dimensions are 4 1/4 deep X 15 1/4 wide X 25 3/4 inches high. The clock strikes on the hour to conserve the weight drop. The coiled gong on the Waterbury stamped base is loud, and the striking is frantic.
The movement will run and stay in beat (relatively!) but stops after about 15 minutes. That is to be expected and a thorough servicing is in order. Stake and punch marks throughout the movement tell me that the movement has been worked on more than once.
The Rosewood veneer is in remarkably good condition though the outside four corners have been compromised. The label is in very good condition with two small pieces missing at the bottom edge and water staining on the right side. The painted zinc dial with Roman Numerals has some flaking and the numbers are somewhat faded but it otherwise looks very good for the age of the clock. Both spade hands and Ogee hands are on similar dials I have seen so I do not know if these are correct/original. The lower reverse painted tablet is silk screened, looks to be marred around the centre area and the entire scene has minor crackling but it is vivid and largely intact.
This is a Type 2.411 movement introduced by the Waterbury Clock Co. when Chauncey Jerome worked for them briefly in 1856-1857 after he went bankrupt. Found in Chauncey Jerome-labeled clocks with movement stamped, “C JEROME.” and also stamped “Waterbury Clock Co. CT” in later (1870) Waterbury clocks. This movement has the Waterbury stamp.
There is a Canadian connection to this movement. The Canada Clock Co. of Whitby, Ontario 1872-76 made 30 hour weight driven, time and strike movements based on an American design. Research indicates that the Collins Brothers (there were three: William, John, and Edward Collins) made a close copy of the OG movement used by the Waterbury Clock Company in Connecticut, a testament to the excellent design of this movement.
Why are these clocks so undervalued?
- The economic collapse of 2008-09 prompted many to sell their clocks and glut the market.
- The generation of folks who cherished these clocks are dying off.
- The newer generation consider them irrelevant and are not interested in them.
- 30 hour clocks are a tough sell because of the hassle of winding them daily.
- Winding them daily means that most have considerable wear and the cost of repair exceeds the value of the clock
- Lastly, many tens of thousands were made so they are not especially rare.
Ten years ago an Ogee in good condition would easily sell for $200 to $300. Today I see prices all over the map but none close to the prices they once commanded.
Expect a report on the servicing of this 30 hour Waterbury Ogee in the weeks to come.