In the late 1800’s to early 1900’s it was considered fashionable to have at least one clock in the home. At this time, it was a symbol of success (they were relatively quite expensive) and conveyed an educated and sophisticated image. This was an era where quality and craftsmanship were everything, and as a result there are still outstanding examples around to this day, often still in perfect working order.
The search for an antique clock can be an adventure in itself, with lots of antique dealers vying for your business. Generally antique dealers have a good reputation to uphold, and can be trusted. Alternatively look to a clock maker or restorer who buys and restores these masterpieces. Do a search online or follow one of our adverts. These artisans are a dying breed, and take great pride in their work – they usually stand behind their passion for its lifetime.
Lets just take a look at a few of the antique clocks you might be considering, and maybe a few new ideas.
The mantel clock, popular in the early 1900’s is a characteristically long, flowing design which does exactly that – it sits on a mantle piece. The clock face is generally built into the centre of the symmetrical shape constructed of wood. These can be found in a range of sizes between about 1 foot long by 5 inches high, to about 2 feet long by 11 inches. The larger models in particular can be quite visually dominating. Many antique mantle clocks feature gongs or chimes, on the hour and sometimes the half hour. Make sure you like the tone of the chime or gong – you will hear it a lot! Expect to re-set the winder or weight mechanism on these marvels about once a week. 8 days is about the longest a mechanism of this size can go between being “recharged” by being wound or weighted. Probably the best attribute of a mantle clock is that it’s easy to find a home for. Virtually every home, even modern ones, has a mantle piece where it will be very at home. Expect to pay between $250USD for a small plain design, and about $800USD for a large well preserved or restored beauty.
A design which originated in Austria in the 1900’s is the carriage clock. The sole purpose of this clock was to provide a portable timepiece – hard to imagine nowadays, but probably very cool at the time! Carriage clocks were considered essential travel kit for wealthy men and women, and are characteristically fairly compact. They are generally square in appearance, between 4 and 8 inches high and 3 to 4 inches wide. Due to the small dimensions (in early 19th century terms!) these clocks are exclusively spring driven, so are wound by hand. Expect to give it a full wind every 2-3 days, or a few quick turns daily. Although originally intended for travel, many of these examples now find homes in antique hunters houses as decorative and functional timepieces. Price will vary depending on condition and age of course, and in particular the quality. Most surviving examples were high of quality anyway, but a premium will go to the more ornate and decorated such as would have belonged to the aristocracy.
Fairly plain and functional carriage clocks from the early 1900’s can be had for as little as $200USD, but expect a price range up to and over $1400USD for well preserved larger models. Many of these also feature chimes, varying from on the hour to every half hour bells. Some even feature alarm functions, with bell or miniature gong as a wake up call.
Due to their compact size carriage clocks are easy to accommodate, fitting into most living spaces easily.
Thanks to tibchris for the image.