Destroying the past is not something new

Junghans Crispi time and strike wall clock
Junghans Crispi time and strike wall clock; my oldest daughter has her name on this one
“I have a sterling silver collection”, she said, “that my son will melt down and sell for cash” once I am gone

My sister, who is a couple of years younger and “was” an avid antique collector, remarked the other day that she has stopped collecting antiques. Why, I asked. There is no one to leave them to and no one to appreciate them, she replied. “I have a sterling silver collection”, she said, “that my son will melt down and sell for cash once I am gone”.

I began to wonder. Our current generation has no interest in acquiring antique and vintage clocks or preserving anything else from the past. My kids have put their names on a few of my prized clocks but the vast majority will likely be auctioned off for pennies. It is a shame and I try not to think about it.

Sessions American No. 2
Clocks such as this Sessions American No. 2 will be auctioned off for almost nothing

Our current generation’s disdain for preserving the past is nothing new. My wife and I were in Boston in June of 2019 and during our tour of the historical sites of the city we listened to a 22-minute play at the State House about a slave’s relationship with the John Hancock family. On August 2, 1776, Hancock was the first member of the Continental Congress to sign the Declaration of Independence, the document first demanding independence for the United States from the rule of Great Britain.

Another clock, a Seth Thomas with Adamantine finish will likely be disposed off by auction

The play was presented in front of the original door of the Hancock house and following the play someone from the audience asked where the house was located. Well, it is no more. It was torn down in the 1860s. No one at the time thought that preserving a significant part of American history was important for future generations. It is no different today.

It is true that my generation did not typically have mechanical clocks in our homes (aside from Grandfather and cuckoo clocks), so younger people today do not have those kinds of memories to inspire nostalgia. Before my time mechanical clocks were thrown in the trash when they wore out to make way for the marvel of the electric clock.

Seth Thomas Regulator #2, mahogany case CA. 1930

For young people today the old clocks we loved are not in their sights for purchase. An offer to gift a mechanical clock to a millennial is often met with the reply, “Thanks but I have no place to put one”. A visit to any antique store or clock fair says it all when the average age of visitors and traders are often in their “senior” years.

Many fine clocks are going for almost nothing today.  Although you will see high asking prices on online for-sale sites, they do not always reflect the actual sale price of the clock.

Aside from special interest clocks the current dip in clock prices will likely continue for years to come. Get them while they are hot, as the expression goes.


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