1.01 – How to Start a Clock Collection

Last Update: 09-15-2022 @ 02:46

How to start an old clock collection?

In the following, I will advise you on how to start a collection of old clocks. There are five things to consider:

  1. Establish Aims and goals
  2. Fix a budget
  3. Determine display space
  4. Which old clocks to buy first
  5. What to look for before buying
A collection of clocks on shelves.
(Image: All Rights Reserved, Bordloub)
(Image: All Rights Reserved, Bordloub)

1.01.1 – Establish Aims and Goals

Before starting a clock collection, ask yourself why you want to collect old clocks. For their history, mechanisms, cases, esthetics, and/or to refurbish them and give them new life? So, carefully determine your aims, motivations, intentions, and goals. ⬆️

1.01.2 – Fix a Budget

Once the aims and goals are fixed, recognize that the passion for collecting old clocks can get expensive, so judiciously and firmly determine a budget. An old clock can cost less than a hundred dollars, but usually, you will have to spend at least a hundred and several more as your tastes evolve. Furthermore, if you’re not planning to maintain the clocks, know that a clock’s good overall maintenance can get you as much as 100$. Finding someone to do it could be difficult. If you decide to do repair and maintenance yourself, figure at least a couple of hundred dollars for tools and documentation just to start. ⬆️

1.01.3 – Determine Display Space

A clock collection takes up a lot of space. Determine where you plan to display them: across your whole house, in your basement, in a specific room. So, plan wall space to accommodate wall clocks, floor clocks, shelves for furniture clocks, etc. Don’t forget that moisture and warm or cold temperatures can affect your old clocks. Make sure that they are displayed in a safe environment. Don’t forget to plan space for a small clock repair bench for minimal maintenance. ⬆️

1.01.4 – Which Old Clocks to Buy

Start with American or Canadian clocks to verify your interest. Get the oldest possible, beginning with timepieces, then bim-bam. They are widely available and easy to maintain or repair if that’s your plan. Westminster clocks are more difficult to repair and are not appropriate for beginners. Acquire a variety of clocks to familiarize yourself with the distinct types, nationalities, and manufacturers.

As you make your acquisitions, you’ll see that your tastes will evolve. Take time to inventory each purchase carefully. Examine it, document it, and take photos of the case and the movement from different angles. Consult the web for assistance with the documentation. The resources there seem infinite, but occasionally, you may need to consult specialized books or websites like those I have listed in Bibliography.

For those interested in the mechanics of clocks or/and restoration of cases, clocks in passable condition will do — for a very reasonable price. Stay away from clocks with missing pendulums or lenses (“bobs”), particularly if you’re learning to repair them. Finding the correct pendulum can be difficult. On the other hand, a missing key is no problem. Duplicate keys are easy to locate. A key with multiple ends will do the job for several types of clocks. ⬆️

1.01.5 – What to Look for Before Buying a Clock

Before buying a clock, carefully inspect it if possible. See Subsection 1.03 to learn how. If you are buying online, cautiously examine the pictures provided by the seller. Antique/vintage sites and eBay will provide an abundance of pictures, whereas other less sophisticated sites, like Kijiji, Les Pacs, Craigslist, or Marketplace, will have few.

As you continue your collection, you will find many articles that will help you evaluate an old clock. Read Subsection 1.04 for a start. If you fall in love with a clock, check the web for prices of similar clocks. Sift through it if possible.

For online purchases, look carefully at the pictures and description. Then, keeping your desire for the clock carefully concealed, negotiate strictly if you’re buying from an individual and more strictly if you’re buying from an antique dealer in a shop. Dealers with shops tend to overvalue their merchandise.

WARNING: Unscrupulous sellers will charge unreasonable prices for clocks that look good but are poorly crafted. Also, many misname recent copies of old clocks to be “antique.” In general, buy only from well-known sites and reputable dealers. Beware, especially if a clock comes from China, India, or Eastern Europe. ⬆️

Next: 1.02 – Where To Shop For Old Clocks

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