Published: December 10, 2002
By Jackie Sideli
PORTSMOUTH, R.I. — It was a sunny and warm day in late November, when the Newport, R.I.-based firm of Gustave J.S. White Company offered one man’s personal, lifetime collection of clocks.
The collector was well-known clock authority James Norman McHenry, from Portsmouth, R.I. He was present for the sale with his son Bill. The sale was held in the firm’s spacious, and easy to find auction hall, located in nearby Portsmouth. The hall is well lit, and very bright, with lots of natural light. Perhaps it was due to the specialty nature of the sale, but the auction hall was about half full when the auction began.
Mike Corcoran has a very entertaining and lively auctioning style. He does not use numbers at this sale, instead choosing to identify the successful bidders by name. He and his staff, including Paul Murphy, his sales manager, offer antiques customers in this part of Rhode Island antiques and fine art from local estates.
McHenry acquired his collection primarily at the big estate auctions in Newport during the 30s and 40s, and indeed, the collection had some very significant rare clocks. The sale offered a E. Howard no. 70 and a E. Howard no. 9. The Howard keyhole clock, no. 9, opened for bidding, with a floor bid, at $2,000. Dealer John Delaney, who was attending the sale with his wife Barbara, ultimately paid $6,325 for it. It was Delaney’s day, for there was not really significant competition, and Delaney walked away with all the best things.
The wonderful Howard no. 70 opened at $1,000, and Delaney bought it for $3,450. An American Nineteenth Century tall-case clock, with an unpainted case, sold to Wickford Antiques, Wickford, R.I., for $1,035.
Wickford Antiques also went home with the Vienna Regulator Clock, which sold for $460. Well- known antiques dealers from Providence, Ferguson and D’ Arruda, came away with a good looking shelf clock, with a painted, grained and stenciled case, for $201.
A J.D. Hatch weight-driven clock opened at $500, and went off the block for $1,035. Antiques dealer Mike West, from Fall River, Mass., bought the Tiffany repeater clock for $1,840. An unsigned Willard-style banjo clock, all original, with a beautifully painted glass panel, brought $805 from the floor.
Undoubtedly the most significant clock to surface at this sale was the Dutch tall clock, with three rocking ships and full calendar, circa 1750, the dial signed “EV Meyer, Amsterdam.” Purchased at “The Point,” Newport, at an estate sale, it opened for bidding at $8,000, sold to Delaney for $10,925. Antiques dealer Dennis Wong bought the John Savin clock, Boston, for $517.
Novelty clocks that surfaced at the sale included the Junghans elephant swinger, which sold to the floor for $402, a porcelain falcon clock, which brought $172, and a weird and interesting cuckoo clock, in a very nicely carved tramp art case, which sold for $920.
One of the most highly prized rdf_Descriptions offered by the White at this auction was the very rare Criterion music box, with an incredible 52 20½ -inch discs, which sold in one bid for $9,545.
There were lots of fine carriage clocks, most of which were sold very reasonably, and there were many boxes of other clocks, including some advertising examples, and many, many boxes of clock parts for the aficionados. It was a very good day for the clock collectors and antiques dealers who were present.
One collector at the auction commented that he was “pleased with the results.”
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