The grandfather clock that never was – a personal journey

In 1981 my wife and I decided to buy a grandfather clock. We were newly married, living in Calgary, Alberta (Canada) at the time, and thought a grandfather clock would look perfect in our spanking new condominium.

Grandfather clocks were all the rage back then and every home had to have one. Indeed, it was the heyday of the grandfather clock and thousands were sold throughout Canada and the US. Folks spent thousands on a clock and like the old upright piano they cannot be given away today, nobody wants them!

We selected a clock within our price range and put down a deposit which was several hundred dollars, a considerable amount of money at the time. Unfortunately, we had to cancel the order a month later so that we would have enough money for a down payment on our next home.

We regret having canceled the order but had to be realistic. Today neither of us can remember what the clock actually looked like back then and any brochure we had is long gone but it would have been a standard Howard Miller or Ridgeway clock.

In 2013 we noticed a Ridgeway grandfather clock for sale on a local online for-sale site. “Isn’t that something like the clock we ordered many years ago”, my wife said. We made a call, spoke to the seller, and enquired about the condition of the clock. The seller replied, “you’ve got to see it to believe it, it is in perfect condition”, and it was. The price was $500, firm.

Ridgeway grandfather clock

In the years since I have attempted to identify the model name or number and the closest model names I can find is the Hamilton Country or possibly the Sussex made by Ridgeway then owned by the Pulaski Furniture Company in 1996. There was an option at the time for cable drive weights but this one has the more inexpensive chains.

Clock face showing moon dial
Clock face showing moon dial

The clock has a Westminster chime, a blue moon phase with a constellation, and although the movement is stamped Ridgeway it is, in fact, made by Hermle, model #451-033 with 114 cm pendulum.

The clock has a scalloped bonnet crown, brass dial with raised Arabic numerals, brass lyre pendulum with polished bob, reeded pilasters with brass capitals, and wooden grill access panels, all within a mahogany case (combination of solids and veneers).

Hermle three train movement

This clock is very much like the clock we almost bought in the early 80s.

Back then we would have paid $2000 or more. $500 in 2013 seemed like a fair price but we would be hard-pressed to get even a fraction of that today. Young people today are not interested and with the move to smaller homes, there is no room for them anymore. Perhaps these clocks will make a comeback but I doubt it.

Occasionally, sellers on online for-sale sites ask far more than they are worth not realizing that the price of these things has plummeted in recent years.

There is a certain sentimentality attached to ours and we’ll keep it.


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