If clocks could tock – the stories they could tell

I wish I knew the stories of all of my clocks.

Antique and vintage clocks evoke a time when life was simpler than the hectic times we live in today. Those nostalgic times when the things we bought and cherished were living memories of people and places that are gone but not forgotten. Antique clocks should be passed down from one generation to the next. Judging from the online marketplaces unfortunately many are not handed from father to son at all as so many have left their original owners. Is sentimentality lost on this generation?

Two such clocks have a story

Not including the the nine clocks I have in my home office there are 35 clocks displayed throughout our home. It saddens me to think that for many of my clocks I know absolutely nothing about them though I wish they all could talk. What stories they could tell.

Two such clocks have a story.

One of my clocks survived the Halifax Explosion in 1917. I know this because the people I bought it from had the clock in their family for over 100 years. It was certainly not in the condition you see here. It was a box of parts and I imagine they felt they had held onto it long enough and it was time to let it go. After I restored the clock I called back the previous owner and told him what I had done with the clock and would I kindly send him a photo of it restored to its former glory. I did and heard nothing afterwards. Sellers remorse, perhaps. I often look at the clock and try to imagine that fateful day when it fell of the wall in a modest home in North Halifax on December 6, 1917.

Junghans Crispi wall clock
Junghans Crispi wall clock

Story number two. You have to feel something for some of the previous owners. This Ingraham Huron shelf clock (circa 1878) is a real gem and fairly rare, you just do not see it come up for sale very often. Some would call it a balloon clock. It was bought in a little village outside Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. My wife and I are about 2 hours away and we decided to make a trip out of getting the clock, having lunch nearby and doing a little shopping.

Do you know anyone who wants Jeff Gordon memorabilia?
Rare Ingraham Huron found on a local online for-sale site
Rare Ingraham Huron found on a local online for-sale site

We arrived at the sellers home, a modest nondescript bungalow. I was greeted at the door by an elderly couple. They had previously told me on the phone a day earlier that after consultation with their son they had decided on a fixed price for the clock and the price seemed very fair to us.

I asked how long they had the clock and the gentlemen who I would say was in his early seventies said that he could remember the clock in this grandmother’s home when he was quite young. He extended his hand palm down to about a meter from the floor and said, “I was this tall when I can first remember it in my grandmother’s home”. After a conversation with the couple I had discovered that they were parting ways, an amicable separation it seemed and the wife had decided to live in an apartment minutes away in Bridgewater. The husband was left with the home and his workshop in the back of the property. “He spends a lot of time out there anyway and besides, we need to get rid of stuff”. “Do you know anyone who wants Jeff Gordon memorabilia?” “No”, I said and left with the clock. It is sad that they had to part with such a memory but people change.

Seth Thomas column and cornice "Empire" style time and strike shelf clock
Seth Thomas column and cornice “Empire” style time and strike shelf clock

I guess sentimentality has a dollar value or people live with things so long that they eventually tire of having them. Deciding to get rid of things is about relieving yourself of all the stuff you’re hanging onto from past relationships and past memories. Secondly, our desire to hold onto piles and piles of old mementos can often be blamed on nostalgia. That’s because reminiscing about the past makes us feel good. It can lead to increased feelings of familial or social connectedness. If I have an old clock, looking at it can elicit positive emotions. Or, perhaps it was not an especially happy memory and getting rid of it expunges that memory.

I often wonder what will happen to my collection when I meet my fellow clock-makers in the sky. My wife knows that I have no real attachment to some of my clocks since I merely purchased them to learn how to repair them and to grow my hobby. Yes, you can have too many mantel clocks!

However, there are about ten clocks in my collection that I hope will be passed down to my kids. My four Arthur Pequegnats, two Vienna regulators, a Seth Thomas Empire style clock, my Sessions Beveled No. 2, my Ingraham Huron shelf clock and my Junghans Crispi wall clock. For some I appreciate their history and admire the folks who had them and for others they have become sentimental attachments because I spent so much time restoring them.

Pequegnat Canadian Time office clock

I think my kids will appreciate them.