What more suitable time could there be for a clock auction than at the end of the year? Thanks to a sale scheduled for Dec. 29, bidders will be able to count down the final minutes and seconds of 2009 on timepieces ranging from a tall-case clock with an eight-day windup movement to an Atmos model that runs on slight variations in the temperature.
They are among the more than 250 lots of clocks and related items that will be offered by the Gordon S. Converse Co., beginning at 2 p.m. at the Italian-American Club in Wayne. Bids are already coming in through the auction's online site at liveauctioneers.com.
Many are shelf clocks from the collection of the late Marylander James Grundy, but there also are specimens of wall, carriage, and mantel clocks, including the 91/4-by-81/4-by-61/2-inch Atmos, which has a starting bid of $250 and a presale estimate of $300 to $400, and has already drawn several online bids.
Shelf clocks, so called because they were too large to fit on mantels, became popular in New England in the early 19th century. Before then, most American clocks were grandfather and tower models customized to fit different movements.
The first shelf clocks were also customized and costly. Then, in 1807, Connecticut clockmaker Eli Terry accepted an order for 4,000 wood clock movements, which in turn led to interchangeable parts and cheaper products.
An Eli Terry carved-case shelf clock with quarter columns flanking a full-length door and a carved Federal eagle crest is among the shelf clocks in the sale. It has a starting bid of $350 and a presale estimate of $700 to $1,000.
The auction also features clocks by some of Terry's employees, including a rare miniature alarm timepiece made by Silas Hoadley (starting bid $200, presale estimate $300 to $500); a 39-inch-tall C&N Jerome repeating brass clock (starting bid $100, presale estimate $200 to $700), and, best-known of all, Seth Thomas. An early Seth Thomas tin or nickelplate alarm clock has a presale estimate of $25 to $50.
Time that is money. The top presale estimate, $5,000 to $9,000 with a starting bid of $3,500, is for the tall-case clock with the eight-day movement. It probably was made around 1800 in New Jersey or New York.
Other clocks with high presale estimates include a Federal banjo clock made by William Cummens, an apprentice of the famed Simon Willard ($3,500 to $7,500, starting bid $3,000); a rare striking shelf clock by John Sawin, who also did work for Willard ($4,000 to $5,000, starting bid $2,000); a gilt-bronze-encased 61/2-inch porcelain-paneled French carriage clock with Sevres oval porcelain inserts and a movement that strikes the hours and half hours ($3,500 to $4,000, starting bid $2,500); and a French industrial lighthouse clock ($2,000 to $6,000, with a starting bid of $1,250) that also has been drawing early online bids.
French industrial clocks were popular in the 1870s. This one has a light that serves as the clock's pendulum, oscillating on the half seconds, according to the description in the online catalog.
Other European models include a large 19th- or early-20th-century chiming library clock with a mechanism reportedly by the German firm Winterhalder & Hoffmeier ($2,500 to $4,500, starting bid $800); a skinny but tall (89-inch-high) French Picardy clock from the Normandy area, made around 1850 ($500 to $800, starting bid $300); and a Georgian tall-case clock from the Liverpool area ($2,500 to $4,500, starting bid $1,250).
One other clock in the sale is worth noting: a 6-inch American milk-glass dialed clock that was made to fit upon a gas-flame outlet so you could read the dial in the dark. Bidding on it starts at $10 with a presale estimate of $20 to $40.
Previews are from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dec. 28 and 9 a.m. to sale time Dec. 29 at the sale site, 301 W. Wayne Ave. For information, call 610-722-9004.
More year-end sales. Clocks, wall and cuckoo models, will also be featured by Briggs Auction at its weekly Friday sale beginning at 5 p.m. today at the gallery at 1347 Naamans Creek Rd., Garnet Valley. The auction also features jewelry, including 20 pieces of gold expected to sell in the range of $300 to $700.
Preview is from 9 a.m. to sale time. For further information, call 610-485-0412.
And beginning at 10 a.m. Tuesday in Chadds Ford, William H. Bunch Auctions/Appraisals will conduct a multi-estate auction featuring "good traditional"-style contemporary furniture, a large collection of blown-glass Venetian clowns, and a collection of early books by Edgar Rice Burroughs, creator of Tarzan.
The Burroughs books, between 30 and 40 early editions from 1928 to 1935, will be sold one by one. Bunch says they are in "great" condition, but lack dust covers.
With the covers, they might have brought up to $2,000 each; without, about $200.
Previews are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and 9 a.m. to sale time Tuesday at the gallery at One Hillman Drive. For information, call 610-558- 1800 or go to www.williambunchauctions.com.