Pursuing a clock on an online auction

I have a growing collection of clocks with upwards of 85 in my collection. My focus is on clocks made in Canada that are entirely manufactured in this country or companies such as Fleet and Forestville, that assembled clocks with foreign/domestic cases and movements. In addition, I have many other clocks that were made in France, Briton, Germany, Austria and so on.

In terms of style, my particular interest is wall clocks. Within my collection, I have 21 wall clocks, the oldest around 1870, and the newest is from the 1930s.

I would like to add one more to my collection but it is sitting in an auction house awaiting my bid. This post will describe my experience bidding on a clock at an online auction. Did I win the clock? Read on and the answer will be revealed at the end of the post.

During pandemic times it is probably safer purchasing a clock online. There remains a risk however. Unknowns are the condition of the case, who the maker is, the state of the movement and what time and money it will take to service it. At this point I only have photos to go on. This is an estate auction and the auction house is located 1 1/2 hours drive from my home.

The clock appears to be a vintage oak-cased German time and strike from about the 1930s. I am guessing Mauthe as the maker since there is no indication from the auction information as to who made the clock. Many German makes have the company name or logo on the dial face; there is nothing on this one. Nevertheless, It looks like a good prospect and I will chance it.

Box clocks were all the fashion in the 1920s and 1930s but those with round tops were less common. Many German tall case or hall clocks of that era had round tops so it is unusual to see a round top on a wall clock. Nevertheless, it is a very attractive clock with simple lines in the Art Deco style.

The three tall panes of beveled glass look good. There appears to be a scratch or a crack on the right hand section of the door about halfway up, but nothing is showing on the inside of the door in that area.

There are no pictures of the movement but one can see the movement seat board thumb screws and the winding arbours in the next shot. The rod gong is visible behind the pendulum rod and it looks like a rod lock at the midway point.

The item description does not say it is running and it does not come with a key. The pendulum is crooked on the auction photo which might mean the connecting hook is broken or it is hooked incorrectly.

This is an online auction called a “Lockdown Live Auction” that, as of this writing, closes in one day.

I have a good feeling about winning this item for four reasons.

  1. One, it is the only clock offered which means that clock collectors will not be drawn to this auction,
  2. There is no reserve bid, the opening bid is $5.00 A reserve is off-putting because auction houses that seldom have clocks for offer, price them higher than they are worth,
  3. There has been no pre-bidding yet and,
  4. It is offered without a key which means that it may or may not be running and might or might not need adjustment or repair. The casual collector might avoid this one.

The auction house allows all bidders to set up a “watch list” and I will be monitoring the bids on this item until the item hits the “auction floor” tomorrow.

A Google search reveals that this style of clock is uncommon but I found one that sold at auction for $100. It was described as an unknown German wall clock.

What would I bid? I am going no higher than $75 but winning it for less would be nice. The final price includes a buyers premium of 15%, 15% sales tax and shipping.

The next day

At 10:30 AM there have been a couple of pre-bids and the clock is now at $12.50. I held off bidding until 8 minutes before it came up for sale at 8:00 PM. At the 8 minute-to point the bidding was $22.50. I placed a “high bid” of $60 which means paying only a small amount more than the next highest bid. Not wanting to get caught up in last second bidding, I walked away from the computer. I was prepared to let it go if I lost the bid.

I returned later to discover that I had won the item for $52.50. With buyers premium, tax, and delivery the final cost is $73.43.

Who is the maker?

The clock arrived. There is no trademark name on the dial face, and nothing on the outside of the case to identify the maker.

The movement sits on a seat board, typical of most German clocks. I released two thumbscrews at the bottom of the seat board and slid the movement out for further inspection. There is no maker’s mark on either the movement or the iron block of the 4-rod gong.

These two shots are the front and back of the rack and snail time and strike movement.

There are two numbers on the bottom right of the rear plate, 43 (length of pendulum rod) and 104, (beats per minute). Using those two numbers and the search terms “German”, “wall clock” and “round top” I conducted a search on the internet and found a matching clock. I compared the design of the plates on mine with the clock I found and it is a Kienzle from the early 1930s or late 1920s.

Who is Kienzle?

Kienzle is a well-respected German clock company that has a long history.

The company was founded in Schwenningen in southern Germany, in the Black Forest, by Johannes Schlenker, in 1822. In 1883, Jakob Kienzle became part of the family by marriage, and took control of the company, becoming its sole owner in 1897.

He revolutionized production by mass-producing individual components and then assembling them. This modern manufacturing approach led to a massive expansion, and by 1939, Kienzle had over 3,500 employees and was making about 5 million wall-clocks and table clocks per year.

The company continued on through the years, changing hands a couple of times and gradually shifted production to wristwatches. It still exits today.

The most distinctive feature of this clock is the 4-rod bim-bam strike. Probably the nicest sound of any striking clock that I have.

I wound both sides and it runs well but the movement is dirty and requires a servicing. Stay tuned for that.

2 thoughts on “Pursuing a clock on an online auction

  1. Well Done, Ron. Smart bidding. First, a ceiling on your max bid. Two, a educated guess the clock worth the money. Three, the costs of a Buyer’s Premium, Exchange rate, shipping, and maybe Import fees all considered too.
    (Sometimes for fun, I’ll sideline watch a popular eB*y item with more than ten bids in on it. Within the last minute of closing, snipers come out to bid up the price way over its intrinsic, that is it’s true market value. Cheap entertainment.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It doesn’t work every time but when it does the results are rewarding. One of the few clocks you can still buy for very little money.

      Liked by 1 person

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