Several clocks bought at auction this spring

I am an avid collector of antique and vintage clocks which means I cruise the online auction sites regularly, about once or twice a week. This spring I checked out offerings from a local online auction site that deals with estate items, placed bids on 4 clocks (actually 5 since one lot had two clocks). The one I did not win was a 6 column Sessions mantel clock but no real loss there.

I won the bids on four clocks. CDN110 was the total though with buyers’ premium and taxes the price jumped to CDN147, still not bad for a small collection of antique clocks.

I do not have these clocks as of this writing since they are sitting at the auction house but I think can make a preliminary judgment based on what I see in the auction photos.

Although I am normally not in the business of selling clocks I will sell the odd one to keep my collection manageable. The plan is to fix these clocks and sell them to offset clock equipment purchases most notably an Adams Brown Timetrax 185, an electric clock timer, an amplifier that measures the rate of mechanical clocks by sensing escapement action and mechanical sounds of the escapement which I recently purchased. Here they are.

Unknown cottage clock

In no particular order of importance let’s start with an octagon cottage clock from the 1870s or 80s. It is a 30-hour clock judging from the placement of the winding points.

With pendulum and key

From the style of the pendulum bob and the case itself, I would say an E. Ingraham & Co. time and strike cottage clock. Some would have come with an alarm. This one does not.

Side view

It is in fair shape. The dial appears to have serious losses and there are nicks and scratches over a good portion of the case from what I see in the photos. I wonder if the tablet is a replacement and the original reverse painted?

It is difficult to tell with the harsh auction light but the case might be made of rosewood.

Decorative pendulum

It will be a good candidate for a mild refresh and should look very nice when completed.

Sessions Grand Assortment #3

Next is a Sessions Grand Assortment #3. I have worked on one in the past. There are three models in the Grand Assortment series and despite the fact that it is a lowly gingerbread clock and thousands of similarly styled clocks were sold by every major American clock manufacturer, this model is surprisingly collectible.

It is an 8-day clock with a steam-pressed oak case. The case looks very “aligorated” a term applied to a shellac finish that has coagulated as a result of being stored in a hot, humid environment such as an attic or a garage.

The dial is in poor condition

The tablet looks good but the dial is very degraded. This is a paper-on-metal dial and when the metal below the paper rusts the stain bleeds through to the front. This is called “foxing”. These stains are very difficult to remove and cost-prohibitive for most clocks. This is a cheap clock and a dial replacement is the only option and as such, I am not sure what to do about it.

A note is attached to the key and it says 1903. It is doubtful it was actually made in that year and I am sure the previous owner went by the year Sessions Clock Co. acquired clock-maker E.N. Welch Co. though the clock is certainly from around that period.

With a note from the previous owner

Reconditioning the case might be a challenge. Is it a candidate for stripping down to the bare wood? I suspect it is but we’ll see. I also see a small crack just above the top of the dial, so it might have been broken off at one point and re-glued.

I am not sure about the pendulum bob which does not look quite right for this clock. More research should provide me with the answer.

E Ingraham Ocean and Ansonia kitchen/parlour clock

Next is a two-for-one deal.

A duo of clocks

The one on the left is an E. Ingraham steam-pressed 8-day gingerbread possibly from the Ocean series. Unfortunately, it is missing its decorative tablet and that will certainly affect its resale value.

The pendulum looks right for the clock and the case itself looks to be in decent shape but as I said, it is very unfortunate that the tablet is missing.

Pieces of a clock

The pieces at the foot of the gingerbread clock belong to the clock on the right. Usually, when I see pieces like this it tells me that it was handled roughly by the auction house.

What I like about this clock is its timeless design, almost Art Deco but made long before the Art Deco period.

So who is the maker of the clock on the right?

Unknown parlour clock

The auction description simply says, “unknown clock”. I believe it is an Ansonia 30-hour (position of the winding arbours) kitchen clock in Walnut from about the early 1880s. The tablet is bright and vivid, not a design I have seen before but likely original. Attaching the top pieces should be a fairly simple process and thorough cleaning of the clock case clock and movement should make it an ideal candidate for resale.

Of the four, two are 30-hour clocks. I have found that 30-hour clocks are a tough sell. Most casual collectors are looking for an 8-day clock since 1-day clocks are a hassle to wind but I think I can make both presentable enough to attract some buyers.

The auction notes do not say whether any of these are in working order. They are all “untested” which is typical auction-speak for “they may or may not work – the risk is yours!”.

American clocks are very tough and often work well despite being very worn. I suspect with a little encouragement I can get all of these clocks working again.

Now, to pick them up from the auction house.

Check for upcoming articles on each of these clocks.

7 thoughts on “Several clocks bought at auction this spring

  1. I had a kitchen clock with an alligatored shellac finish. I rubbed it down with alcohol (which dissolves shellac) and it turned out surprisingly well.


    1. Yes, I have tried a few different methods. I have tried a mixture of things but not pure alcohol. Phil, could you send me some before and after photos if you have them?


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.