Tick Talk Tuesday #33 – buying a vintage grandfather clock – advice for a reader

Tick-Talk Tuesday is about the letters and comments I have received from you, the reader, concerning your clock, issues you might have had, challenges you face, a clock you would like me to profile, my advice on your particular clock concern or a general clock question. For those comments and questions that stump even me, I consult within my clock circles for the best possible answer

Clock for sale

MB wrote

“Hi Ron,

I came across this clock and your blog and have fell in love with it. I want to put a bid on it but have no idea what it is worth. Could you give me your opinion please?”

I am not sure whether they fell in love with the clock or my blog!

I replied,

Attached photo

Hi and thanks for writing.

The clock you wish to bid on appears to be American-made and from the 1990s. Let me point out some factors to consider.

  • If the clock is from the 1990s, the movement (the mechanical works) have reached the end of its service life. Typically movements from this era have a life span of about 25 years. If it is a non-working clock, it is worn out. If it is a working clock there is not much time left on the movement. Regardless, to service or replace the movement would be in the order of $450 to $500. If it has been recently serviced (disassembled, wear issues addressed, repairs made, reassembled, tested and oiled) or the movement has been replaced with a new one, that is a big plus.
  • From the photo I would question why the weights are at different levels. In a working clock the three weights descend together (with slight variations) through the clock’s 8-day cycle. See attached photo (right).
  • Many years ago it was not unusual to spend $2000 to $3000 for one of these clocks when new. Today they are worth almost nothing. The fact that this clock appears to be in a basement or garage does not bode well for its condition. The photo is not very clear but I can see wear around the base of the clock and it may even be missing the bottommost pedestal (which might be concealed by something in front of it) which also begs the question: what else is missing?
  • A similar clock in excellent condition with a recently serviced movement would be in the $500 price range.
  • A clock, such as this, that has never been serviced whether working or not would be in the $100 – $125 price range but be prepared to spend more money on it unless you can do the repairs yourself.

MB writes back,

“Thank you so much! They did indicate that the pendulum isn’t working so I guess I will stay away.

I appreciate your detailed answer and for saving me from what sounds like it could have been a waste. 

Have a great evening!”


2 thoughts on “Tick Talk Tuesday #33 – buying a vintage grandfather clock – advice for a reader

  1. Great advice. Thanks Ron. Quality Tall case clocks are still beautiful. (Yes, beauty is subjective). Obviously today’s market feels different, with bargain basement pricing. Much as with Mom’s fine bone china, hauled out once a week and a prized possession, a set cannot be given away nowadays.

    Like

    1. I am not sure if things will return to the way they once were. However, I have noticed an uptick in interest in antique and vintage clocks and I hope the interest is sustained.

      Like

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