Published: May 13, 2003
A Healthy $1.5 Million for Clocks in New Hampshire
By Jackie Sideli
MANCHESTER, N.H. – “Despite our not reaching our presale projection of a possible $2 million total, it was our best sale ever,” said auctioneer Bob Schmitt, owner of Salem, N.H.’s R.O. Schmitt Fine Arts, referring to his important antique clock auction conducted the weekend of April 26-27 at the Center of New Hampshire.
Although a healthy crowd attended the sale, prices were a bit soft. Ninety percent of the clocks purchased went to collectors, rather than to dealers, for a $1.5 million total; this reflected a change in the usual 75-25 split, with collectors taking 75 percent.
The cavernous convention hall was half filled with rows of tables covered with all types and varieties of rare and desirable antique clocks, while the rest of the huge space was arranged for seating for the many eager collectors and dealers who had made the trip for this special sale.
Most of the clocks were sourced from the estate of Gregory Gibson, an avid collector and botanist, from Bay Head, N.J. Among the rarities that surfaced was an E. Howard & Co., Boston Regulator No. 22, the top lot. The clock had spent most its life in California, reportedly in a railway office. According to catalog notes, this clock has Howard’s finest movement, requiring winding every three months. In excellent restored condition, the clock went off the block for $88,480 selling to a “Texas oil magnate,” according to Schmitt.
Woodbury, Conn., dealer Joel Einhorn went home with an exceedingly rare Boston Clock Company, circa 1855 Crane’s Astronomical Timepiece for $84,000. Einhorn now has two of the clocks, of which there are only six extant.
The Delaneys, well-known clock dealers from West Townsend, Mass., were present at the sale, and went home with many fine examples. Delaney purchased a circa 1845 Forestville Manufacturing Co., J.C. Brown, Forestville, Conn., in original condition, on day two of the sale. After much competitive bidding, the clock sold for $5,040. Sean Delaney, who shares the shop with his parents, purchased a circa 1868 Williams and Hatch eight-day regulator timepiece, made in North Attleboro, Mass., for $2,912. The mahogany case was in original condition, and the clock retained its original painted dial.
The Delaneys also went home with a circa 1820 Swedish gilt wood cartel clock, in original condition. An eagle, carved out of wood, is holding the clock face, with original hand cut brass hands. This eight-day clock, with original gilding still intact, sold for $5,264.
Franklin, Tenn., collector Doug York made the trip to Manchester and went home with a circa 1914 Ansonia Clock Co., “The Colonel,” a wall regulator in black walnut and in very good condition. After very competitive bidding from the floor, the clock sold for $5,376.
Midway through the second day of the sale, a Blunt and Nichols, New York, clock, an Astro regulator from the Pennsylvania Railroad station at 35th and Market Streets, Philadelphia, was offered. Dating from around 1880, the clock featured a mahogany case and movement made to the highest standards, with full dust covers, five massive pillars and sapphire pallets. The case was originally mounted directly to the wall in the station. After much competitive bidding, this clock sold for $25,760.
A number of tall-case clocks were offered. One was a circa 1805 unsigned New Jersey clock, with rolling moon movement, that brought $6,440. A circa 1820 Massachusetts tall clock, with original painted dial movement and a refinished case sold for $4,760.
Of the many regulator clocks offered at this sale, a notable lot was a circa 1892 Seth Thomas Regulator No. 19. This clock has been refinished at one point, and still retained its original presentation plaque, dated 1892. It opened for bidding at $12,500, and sold to the floor for $28,000. Another Seth Thomas Regulator sold was a circa 1885 Regulator No. 5 in mahogany, which according to catalog notes, is one of the most difficult models to find. This one went off the auction block for $13,776.
A circa 1845 J.C. Brown 30-hour clock from Forestville, Conn., a time/strike miniripple steeple clock, went off the auction block on day two for $7,616. An attractive and unusual shelf clock, a 1835 Hotchkiss and Benedict, Auburn, N.Y., an eight-day time and strike with carved column, and original painted glass depicting a compote with fruit, sold for $3,472.
A Seth Thomas 1892 Office Calendar No. 12 with eight-day weight, double dial perpetual calendar in cherry and professionally repainted dials, sold for $5,152 to a customer at the sale. A Seth Thomas Office Calendar No. 3, usually referred to as the “peanut,” opened for bidding at $1,500, and reached $2,912. Another Seth Thomas, the No. 1 Office Calendar, had both dials repainted, a stylish rosewood veneer case, and was in good condition, selling for $4,368.
A spectacular circa 1900 Waterbury, Conn., 24-inch gallery clock surfaced midway throughout the second day of the sale. With a refinished oak case and two labels, this clock brought $4,480. A circa 1830 oscillating movement French Lyre clock featured ormolu, bells striking movement with pinwheel escarpment, an ebonized lure case and was surrounded by a likeness of “Adventure” floating in the air. Estimated at $9,750 to $12,750, this clock went off the block at $10,080.
This was a very stimulating and sophisticated sale, aimed at the true aficionados in the clock and timepiece world. Schmitt no longer accepts on-line or phone bids. The company takes great pains to fully describe each and every rdf_Description offered for sale, and as a result has a very loyal clientele.
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