Tick Talk Tuesday #47 Mason and Sullivan movement in a grandfather clock

Tick-Talk Tuesday is dedicated to addressing readers’ letters and comments related to clock issues, challenges, and recommendations for specific clocks. In cases where the comments and questions are particularly challenging, I seek advice from my fellow clock enthusiasts to provide the most accurate and helpful response.

DH writes

I am the executor of an estate and am dealing with a Grandfather clock that will be sold outside the normal auction process to one of the children.  I have attached a picture of the clock and a description of the movement inside the clock.  The clock was built by Hanson Heffler of Cherry Run, WV.  He only built a couple of clocks and those were for family, so he is not a known clock builder.  How can I get a valuation done for Estate purposes?  What other information do I need to obtain?  What fees will need to be paid to get the valuation?  Any assistance you may provide is appreciated.

Custom clock with Mason and Sullivan movement

My reply

You are certainly entitled to consult an expert to determine the value of the clock, however, let me offer a few words of advice.

I am not a clock valuation expert and cannot physically inspect its construction, repair status, and overall condition and any estimate I offer from information provided to me by email regarding the clock’s value would be approximate. 

The clock appears to be from the 1970s to the 1980s. While the case is custom-made, as you say, the movement is sourced from Germany which was very common during that period. The clock movement may say Mason and Sullivan but the maker is Hermle of Germany. Mason and Sullivan simply put their stamp on it suggesting to the buyer that it is American-made. Whether a clock was custom-made or factory produced as in grandfather clocks from Howard Miller or Ridgeway during that period, for example, the practice was to install German-made movements which is not a bad thing since German-made movements are robust and reliable.

Movement is stamped Mason and Sulivan

That said, many of these clocks are difficult to sell because nobody wants them for a number of reasons. One, they generally cost more to repair than they are worth. If the clock has not been serviced in quite some time, at the very least the movement would require inspection and oiling by a professional clock repair person. In addition, ongoing repairs and maintenance can add up over time. Two, they take up space. Homes are typically smaller today and space is often at a premium and the size of the clock often puts off buyers. Three, transporting and setting up these clocks can pose a challenge if the buyer lacks the familiarity with setup. Four, the clock has a period look and may not fit with the style of a modern home or may clash with other furnishings.

If the clock does not have a distinct history (provenance) or the maker is not highly regarded, its value will be significantly lower than the original purchase price.

Typically a clock of this style and vintage would fetch something in the neighbourhood of $500 to $600.

While it is recommended to seek the advice of an expert to obtain an accurate valuation of the clock, their estimate may not deviate significantly from the one I have given.

Hope this helps.



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