Clock collecting and repair as a hobby – Part 1

This is Part I of a two part series. In Part I, I will discuss why I collect, repair and restore clocks. In Part II are 9 reasons why clock collecting and repair is a great hobby for just about anyone.

Why I collect, repair and restore clocks

As I was contemplating my slowly approaching senior years I thought I would begin clock collecting and repair. Little by little I began collecting the odd clock from antique stores, online for-sale sites and clocks gifted to me. Being less discriminatory in those days I snagged just about anything mechanical. I began to realize that I loved horology particularly the challenge of clock repair and soon after the case restoration side of clock collecting.

We displayed it proudly on our upright piano for years.

In 2000 when my wife and I were traveling around our home province of Nova Scotia. We stopped at a little village called Blockhouse. We found an antique shop which is no longer there, walked in and never intended to buy an antique clock that day but left with a Seth Thomas Adamantine mantel clock (circa 1910). It looked like it was worth many times more than we paid for it. We left the store thinking we had stolen it.

Antique shop in Ontario

Later I discovered that thousands of these clocks were made and the price we paid likely reflected more than its true value. The clock came home and sat on our upright piano and looked great. For the first 2-3 years I wound it up weekly and marveled at its beautiful case and the sound of the strike on the hour and half hour. Eventually it went quiet.

“The more you know, the more you grow”

Later we found a Daniel Dakota wall clock at a thrift store in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia. I knew at the time that Chinese clocks are worth nothing but I cleaned it up, eventually took it apart several times for practice and got it running and gave myself a good pat-on-the-back. Mission accomplished; now on to the next challenge.

Daniel Dakota wall clock, one of Tempus Fugits more popular models
Daniel Dakota wall clock

Next, came a Ridgeway Hamilton Country Westminster chime tall-case clock that was in great shape and needed no work. More mantel and wall clocks followed until I began to realize that my modest collection was growing from several clocks to dozens.

Ridgeway grandfather clock

In the past several years, I have amassed close to 100 clocks, many of which are running daily and a few are in various states of what I call, rehabilitation. As my tastes change I have confined my purchases only to those that interest me and in order to manage my collection I have sold some and gifted others.

As my hobby evolved I have learned to maintain, repair and restore clocks. No matter how much I think I know I am always meeting new and difficult challenges. With repair comes the acquisition of the necessary equipment to further my hobby. Having the right tools is essential.

Of course, my clock journey has enabled me to acquire a wealth of information on clocks of all types, meet interesting people along the way and listen to their stories.

Next, in four days is Part II. In Part II are 9 reasons why clock collecting and repair is a great hobby for just about anyone.