Seven clocks in my collection have family connections, not necessarily with my own family but clocks that I am able to trace back through families mostly in Nova Scotia (Canada). No names are mentioned. The stories are sad in some cases but interesting nonetheless.
Waterbury wall clock
When I was a child back in the 1950s my grandparents had one clock in their home, a Waterbury drop octagon located in the kitchen above the sink. It was the only mechanical devcie that made a sound in their home.
My grandfather was a veteran of the First World War and suffered from shell shock (PTSD) long after the war. His home had to be stone quiet with the exception of the time and strike Waterbury clock in the kitchen.
After he died my grandmother sold the house and moved in with one of my aunts. The clock went to one of my uncle’s kids. The original case was painted yellow to match my grandfather’s kitchen walls and either it was in poor condition or broken, and a new case was constructed by my cousin. He knew almost nothing about case construction but did the best he could. Because he did not know how to repair the movement the clock was stored in a barn for a number of years (chicken pecks on the dial face!). In 2020, he gave the clock to another cousin who was breaking up their home and asked if I would have it.
Rather than take the movement out of its homemade case and put it into something more appropriate I decided to leave it as is as the case with all its warts is part of the history of the clock.
Sawin Banjo clock from a collector in Wolfville NS
My wife found this weight drive time-only banjo clock on Facebook Marketplace. The photos were quite poor and I imagine the seller was not getting much traction on the ad. Knowing that it might be something special I made an offer, sight unseen.
It had a few minor issues such as broken glass, and veneer losses but otherwise, the clock was intact including the original acorn finial.
I always ask the seller about a clock’s origin and in this case, the clock was from a collector in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. The seller said that her uncle had this clock as well as a number of quality clocks for as long as she could remember, perhaps 60 years or so but could not recall where the clock originally came from.
After researching this clock I discovered that it was made in or around 1840, in Boston and although unsigned has all the markings of a clock made by John Sawin (or one of his associates) an apprentice to the famous inventor of the banjo timepiece, Simon Willard.
Gilbert mantel clock Shawville
What attracted me to this clock was the condition of the case. For a 100+-year-old clock, it is in remarkably good condition.
The design is simple but graceful and of course, it would have been one of the cheaper clocks in the Gilbert line.
Despite the pandemic, people were still engaged in the buying and selling of clocks. This was another Facebook ad. The price was very reasonable. The clock was bought from a family in Shawville Quebec. A family member had passed away and all household items were sold off. The seller said her mother loved the clock and polished it weekly though it had not run for years.
Because the seller did not wish to have physical contact with me the clock was placed in a recycle container on the side of the highway for me to pick up.
Mauthe Horse crown
Most would call this a Vienna-style springer. Made in or about 1885 it had been in a family since I bought it from a former superintendent of schools about 6 years ago.
In the early 1980s, his wife brought the family clock over from Holland in a suitcase. It had been in his wife’s family for several generations previously. The gentleman’s wife passed away 10 years ago and had she been alive today I would certainly have learned a lot more about its history.
The seller was reluctant to let this clock go since it was a happy reminder of his past life. But he was moving into the next phase of his life with a new partner and that meant divesting of furniture and other items. Like him, I think of life in phases.
The only issue was a missing bottom finial. I can only imagine that the finial had to be removed so the clock could fit in the suitcase.
Junghans wall clock Crispi
What happens when you get a clock in a box? Call it a collection of parts, pieces, and dust. To some, a box of clock pieces is discouraging but to me, it was a challenge.
This is an antique German Junghans time and strike spring-driven clock made in the style of a Vienna Regulator. There is no serial number on the movement which dates the clock to 1899 or earlier (in 1900 Junghans began to number their movements).
This clock is a witness to the day of the Halifax Explosion in 1917. The result of the explosion from a munitions ship in the Bedford basin was apocalyptical.
This clock, owned by the seller’s wife’s mother caught the brunt of the blast.
The blast not only shattered the glass panels but heavily damaged the box frame. Most of the parts sat in a box for 100 years. Since the box frame was damaged beyond repair, the seller, an amateur woodworker, built a new frame made of oak some 35 years ago. He was at a loss as to how to repair the movement, put the project aside, and lost interest.
Wag on a wall
The style of the clock is a “wag on the wall”. It is a strange name but basically, it is a clock with the movement enclosed in a small case and with a pendulum and weights exposed. It is so named because the pendulum appears to wag on the wall like a dog’s tail.
My wife’s uncle was an internist (internal medicine specialist) in Newfoundland and practiced for many years but dementia and its attendant complications finally got the best of him. He spent the last 5 or so years in a locked ward of a residential facility for the elderly.
As part of his practice, he set up a home office where he would receive patients and consult with colleagues. In his office was a wall clock given to him by a former patient.
When he passed away his possessions were distributed among his family members with the clock going to his brother who, himself passed away this past year. Unfortunately, there was not much interest in the clock and it spent 15+ years in a Rubbermaid container in the basement of his brother’s home.
His wife is currently in the process of moving to a smaller home, giving away what she could and since I have a keen interest in antique and vintage clocks she determined that the best place for the clock was in the hands of someone who would appreciate it.
The clock is Rosewood “Huron” Shelf Clock, by E. Ingraham & Co., Bristol, Connecticut circa 1878.
It has a paper-on zinc dial with a round glazed door and a lower glass access panel. It is a brass eight-day spring-powered movement, with a height of just under 41 centimeters.
I asked the seller who was about 70 years old at the time, “what do you know about this clock?”. He extended his hand palm down out to about a meter from the floor and said, “I was this tall when I can first remember it in my grandmother’s home”. There is a penciled marking just inside the case indicating that it had been serviced by a person by the name of Hebb in 1944. The seller recalls a Hebb family who at one time lived in the Bridgewater area of Nova Scotia near where I purchased the clock.
He and his wife were in the process of dissolving their marriage and were selling off everything they own including many sentimental items.
I always make it a point to ask about the history of any clock I purchase. Sometimes, in the cases above I learn interesting things about the clock. In other cases, the seller knows nothing.
I wish I knew more about other clocks in my collection. Unfortunately many were passed on from seller to buyer and the history has been lost forever, but what stories some of them could tell.