It is a $10 cottage clock my sister picked up in a yard sale several years ago and gave to me after I serviced one of her ogee clocks. There is a label on the inside that says it is made by Ansonia Brass Co. and I would date it to around the early 1880s.
It likely cost no more than 50 cents in its day, the most inexpensive of mechanical clocks but enough to provide for a family of modest needs.
Not many survive to this day as they were tossed out when they stopped working. When they do survive they are often in poor condition such as this one. So, it is not surprising that time-only cottage clocks, in very good condition, are sometimes worth more and have greater collector value than larger American time and strike parlour or kitchen clocks.
So, why is this clock not worth much more than my sister paid for it? It’s had a hard life and has likely been altered in several ways. Original movement? It’s hard to say as there are no markings on it. Well worn? Yes! Pendulum, crutch, the mainspring, pallets; probably replacements. And why the notches on the rear of the access door?
My wife and I love the sound of a ticking clock when we sleep at night. We both find it very soothing. And this one ticks just loud enough to be heard over our window air conditioner.
Unfortunately, the movement cannot quite run its intended 30 hours, and either the mainspring is too weak, or it needs a good cleaning. It is certainly not worth replacing a mainspring that would exceed the value of the clock so, a good cleaning is what it will get.
Time-only movements are the simplest to work on. There is only one train with three wheels plus the escape wheel. It is a matter of letting down the mainspring (a clamp is not necessary) releasing the 4 pins that hold the plates together which exposes the wheels and then taking the parts out.
Two issues immediately tell me that this movement does not have a lot of time left. The main wheel and the centre cannon teeth are slightly bent and it is only a matter of time when one or more break. There is not a lot of stress produced by the mainspring on the wheels of a 30-hour clock so it could take years, or perhaps even tomorrow. In any event, a repair of the wheel teeth is just not worth it.
The movement is not especially dirty but there is blackened oil in some of the pivot holes necessitating remediation. A clean in the ultrasonic followed by rinsing the parts, drying them, and then reassembly, oiling, and testing. That is it.
It is clean and I hope it will run 30 hours after the cleaning. Will it last? Well, for as long as the wheel teeth hold out. Let’s hope they do!