I seem to be one of those people who manages to find a great clock deal. I don’t think it takes a special talent but patience, research and timing are three keys elements in finding a bargain.
I often cruise the online for-sale sites for interesting clocks. In Canada we have something called Kijiji. In the States Craig’s List is quite popular and I am sure other countries have something very similar.
What makes Kijiji (and similar sites) interesting and fun is that you can connect with people locally or in my case our province of Nova Scotia. There are a wide variety of sellers. Some know what they are selling and price items accordingly. Some have really no idea and either price items clearly for much more than they are worth or conversely for far less than their actual value.
It is nice to be able to meet the seller, find out the history of the clock, learn something about the seller, their motivation for selling, negotiate a price and bring the item home. There is no post office or courier service to “screw” things up. No “oh crap” sigh when you open the package. With online auction sites you often get a “pig in a poke” which means that something is sold or bought without the buyer knowing its true nature or value, especially when buying without inspecting the item beforehand. This does not happen with Kijiji. You find the item advertised, connect with the seller several times electronically or personally if necessary, see the item beforehand, ask questions about it, inspect it for any immediate issues or potential problems and you have the choice to walk away if you are not completely satisfied. All transactions are cash with no pesky sales tax.
Clocks are interesting items to collect and prices are all over the map as you would expect. However, I have found a few gems in the last few years. Let me tell you about my latest experience.
A few weeks ago I saw this clock advertised on Kijiji (photo below). Now, this looks like any ordinary Gothic steeple clock but what grabbed my attention was the unique tablet inscription. The acid-etched glass tablet says “Cling to the Cross”, a religious expression not often found on this style of clock. I knew immediately that this was a very special Canadian made clock.
Why, because several months ago I watched a video presentation by Jim Connell. Jim Connell is well know in Canadian clock circles. According to the introductory remarks found at the aforementioned site “He has amassed a large collection of clocks of all types with an emphasis on those with a Canadian origin. As his collection and knowledge grew, Jim prepared and presented numerous articles, talks and displays on Canadian clocks and their history. He is the respected author of the Charlton Standard Catalogue of Canadian Clocks and he co-authored Early Canadian Timekeepers and The Canada and Hamilton Clock Companies with Jane Varkaris.”
In his presentation he described this exact clock and mentions in his presentation that there were very few copies left, a very rare Canadian clock indeed.
I wanted to confirm that this was the clock I thought it was and asked the seller to photograph the label. He did so and sent this to me.
I attempted to negotiate a price. The seller wanted 100CDN and I offered 80CDN. He replied that he would not accept anything less than 100CDN. In the meantime I checked with the curator of the Canadian Clock museum to confirm its authenticity. Upon discovering that this was a Hamilton Clock Co. clock made between 1876 and 1880 I decided that, yes, this was a good find and in my email reply to the seller I said, “100CDN it is”.
It is what I would consider one of those happy win-win situations. The seller got more than he thought the clock was worth and I got a clock that is worth much more than I paid for it. My motivation, however, was not to celebrate a great deal at a great price but to acquire a piece of significant Canadian horological history at an affordable price.
We met and settled the deal. I am now the owner of a Canadian made 30-hour time and strike Hamilton Clock Co. Gothic steeple clock.
In a later blog article I will profile this clock and describe my strategy to address some of its issues.