I have now written many blogs about important aspects of antique clocks. Many of these blogs relate to how to find more information about a particular antique clock Setting up antique clocks, the history of antique clocks or timekeeping antique clocks Lessons in finding a genuine antique clock or even advice if you are considering a career in restoring antique clocks. I hope I have showed you there are many pitfalls in choosing antique clocks for sale. You can learn more from visiting our website www.pendulumofmayfair.co.uk.
Where to Find Clocks?
The truth is there are literally thousands of places you can source your antique clock for your home. I am sure you have seen clocks in many places like dusty old curiosity shops. Local, regional and famous auction houses, ebay, and maybe even the odd car boot sale. I want to stress the importance of buying from someone who is a long established expert in the field. They should give you a written guarantee than the item you are interested in, is a genuine antique. There is nothing worse many years later someone knowledgable coming around to dinner telling what you thought was your prize and joy has been butchered.
Reputable Clock Dealer
It will be more expensive buying from a long established reputable dealer offering a money back guarantee. It is worth it in the end though. I have also noticed that with the auction houses some of the prices realized are actually even higher than equivalent for restored examples in dealers shops. People seem to enjoy buying at auction. Remember this is not a place for anyone other than trained experts. Read the conditions in the backs of many auction house catalogues.
Check conditions of Sale in Auctions
Auctions are basically buyer beware. Some auction houses also now charge as much as 30% plus VAT commission on the buying price. The price you bid is not the price you pay and it is easy to get carried away bidding in an auction house. Yes I may have considerable bias, as I believe you should always buy from a specialist dealer like ourselves. That is if you want a clock or lovely piece of furniture that comes with a guarantee. I also would recommend buying a genuine picture though from an established picture dealer not an auction house. You are then covered by a written guarantee and are paying for the dealers knowledge and experience. Also when to comes to these items and especially clocks, we at Pendulum of Mayfair Ltd have our own sympathetic restoration facility. Items purchased at auction or elsewhere will normally need lots of money spending on restoration after purchase. Clocks need to work properly, you will not get any guarantees that they will do so from auctions.
To sum up therefore there are lots of antique clocks out there that seem a good deal. On closer inspection this may not always be the case. A changed movement, a new base, there are many factors which reduce the value of an antique clock. In looking for places with antique clocks for sale , my recommendation is to buy from only long established dealers. They will given you a written money back guarantee that the item is genuine. I do not believe we will be beaten on price at Pendulum of Mayfair Ltd, like for like. We offer sympathetically restored antique clocks and furniture at affordable prices in London and Cheshire.
World Wide Exports
We sell to all four corners of the globe. A specialist antique shipper ships all our items to your front door. We also have comprehensive setting up instructions for all our antique clocks. The world wide web has made it possible buying from anywhere in the world an easy task. Although I always recommend to buy your antique clock in person. You can then touch it, smell it and speak directly to the person selling. Clearly this is not always possible in today’s manic world. We will provide many high profile references on request, and we usually know someone that has purchased from us in your neighborhood. If visiting the shop is not possible, speak to us on the phone or by e.mail and realize what makes us tick ! Trusting the person you are buying from is essential when buying antiques of any sort.
Please read this before it is to late. This particular topic is very dear to my heart. It is vital for not only for people that own antique clocks and furniture, but people that care about their health. No doubt many ears pricked up when I mentioned health. Yes that’s right. Low humidity and high humidity have been found to be major contributors to asthma. Humidity changes and the incorrect humidity will effect all things like your plaster, cornice or your newly laid expensive wood floor. If you do not take action splits or the joints opening up or general warping can occur.
Not Low or High Humidity
All natural things are susceptible to damage from either low or high humidity, whether that be mold damage or shrinkage damage. Antique furniture pieces are often veneered, which means a flamboyant wood like mahogany on the outside and oak or pine on the carcass. Different woods have differing expansion rates. Rapid changes to humidity or prolonged low humidity will therefore lead to warping, splitting or cracks developing in the veneers. Veneers on antiques are stuck on normally by ‘animal glues’, after changes to humidity and temperature over time veneers tend to drop off. This can be an early sign of the incorrect humidity levels in your home or office.
Early Signs of Problems
Another early warning sign is the hood glass on your grandfather clock splitting from side to side. The door frame shrinks leaving the glass no where to go. If this happens get your humidity levels urgently checked before expensive restoration work is required. If this problem is left untreated it may be too late.
Humidifiers Are Vital
Antique clocks and furniture should be kept in a controlled environment. Rapid changes to humidity or prolonged low or high humidity can cause damage as described above. Low humidity is damaging for antiques, as a result many antiques have been ruined by central heating. This is a real shame and something that is easily corrected.
Purchase a hygrometer
Humidity is the amount of moisture or water molecules in the air. Keep your humidity between 40-65%. Purchase a hygrometer to check whether you have an issue. Humidity levels can be adjusted to the correct levels by either a humidifier (if you have low humidity) or a de-humidifier. (in cases of high humidity)
Customers can benefit if you have low humidity and like it warm can increase your humidity. Higher humidity will make you will be able to have noticeably lower temperatures and still feel comfortable. Slightly increasing your humidity can therefore save on heating costs. Contact me now at Pendulum of Mayfair, for more information.
By controlling your humidity to the desired levels you can therefore:
So you have finally managed to take the plunge and purchase your antique clock. There are many antique clocks available on the market but not all are original examples. There is nothing worse than spending lots of hard earned money on something that you later find out to be not what you originally thought. Regularly you will only find out something is amiss when someone knowledgeable visits your home. I have had to break bad news when asked for my comments on many occasions.
When buying an antique clock to purchase from someone you can trust. Finding someone like this is never easy. Try and find someone who is long established and are specialists in this field. Maybe they will offer you a money back guarantee. You should then have peace of mind.
Some restoration will have been carried out on all antique clocks. This should be sympathetic restoration though and not major surgery. I have devised some basic things to look out for below.
Look. Smell. Feel.
Probably the most common part of an antique grandfather clock to have been replaced is the base of the clock. Clocks used to stand on cold, damp floors, and many bases simply rotted away or were attacked by the dreaded woodworm. Clearly the bottom feet or plinth is an acceptable part of restoration but not the entire base section. Easy signs of new bases are when the wood does not match the trunk door. If the figuring of the wood and colour is different be-ware.
On London and south country clocks the backboard should be old and full length. If the backboard is rotted at the bottom and stops way short of the bottom, this is something to be careful of. If the backboard has rotted away, how much of the base has been rebuilt? In North country clocks, backboards can be made in two pieces from the later part of the 18th century.
Movements have sometimes been replaced. Make sure the case style corresponds to the makers location. i.e. London mahogany clocks do not have swan neck pediments but dome or pagoda tops. You can look at some good reference clock books for information on what clock cases should look like for different areas of the country. Each area of the UK in the 18th century had a distinctly different style of cabinet feature. For instance London clocks do not use simple oak cases but these are either veneered in walnut, ebony, mahogany or decorated with chinoiserie.
Look for Spare Holes
Does the dial belongs to the movement? Are there any spare holes in the front plate where another dial has been ? If the clock has a brass dial, this is attached directly to the front plate. Not by means of an iron false plate. (as used on white painted dial clocks) The winding holes on ‘8-day’ clocks are well placed within the centre of the dial These do not spoil the engraving or chapter ring.
If the clock is an ‘8-day’ example that the clock has a second hand. 99% of all ‘8 day’ clocks should have a second hand to just below the 12 0’clock position. If there is an obvious reason why a second hand cannot be fitted like a ‘penny moon’ feature then this is OK. As a rule though ’30Hr’ clocks do not usually have second hands, and so if the clock has had a later ‘8-day’ movement fitted this is why you should wonder why there is no second hand.
Does the age of the movement corresponds to the age of the cabinet? All dials have dating features, for instance inside quarter divisions, type of spandrels. You can date these very easily with good reference books. English walnut cases date from the 17th century up to about 1760. Mahogany cabinets date from about 1750 onwards. Oak cabinets tend to run straight through the 17th and 18th and 19th century’s.
Any Packing Under Seatboard?
Look for any obvious packing under the seat-board that cannot be accounted for? If the seat-board is old and warped ? A small piece of packing may be necessary.
Prior to 1820 all English antique clocks movements should strike on a bell and not a gong. Gong striking is popular around C1900.
Look for rub marks from where the weights and pendulum have banged over the years. If you see 1 smooth rub on inside under trunk door and your clock has 2 weights, this is not a good sign. If there are marks on backboard far away from where pendulum is hanging, and the clock is keeping time. Ask what would have caused these marks.
If the pendulum feather has been changed for a stiffer example, the pendulum height can change slightly This should only be a slight change.
Investigate whether the dial fits the mask correctly and there are no large gaps. The size of glass should be similar to the size of the dial.
Is the face made from 1 piece of brass? This brass prior to C1800 will be cast brass and so thick and thin. The arch section of the dial should be from the same section of brass. If a square dial is later converted to an arch dial case, this is why some dials are made of two pieces.
Finally I have never seen an original fully carved pre C.1820 Longcase clock. The Victorians loved later carving GIII clocks though, and so beware buying one of these examples. Later carving would dramatically effect the clocks value.
I wish you luck in your search. Buying from a recognized antique clock dealer may be slightly more expensive but you will get peace of mind. You should aim to get a money back guarantee that your clock is a genuine antique and a fully working example. It is easy to spend your good money buying a clock with a chequered history. Please take your time and not rush into a decision you will later regret.
As they say an antique clock is for life and not just for Christmas. In our business we say, hard to find easy to sell. Original examples will provide you will years of pleasure and a good solid investment, Pendulum of Mayfair only sells top quality examples.