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Ever since our ancient ancestors used the first man made sundial to measure time, the ingenuity of man and his creative abilities have continued to create more and more ways to do so. Not long after that a water clock, an oil clock and a sand clock were developed. In these clocks time was measured by the the flow of water, oil or sand from one receptacle to another.
You can still occasionally find a little sand timer that measures one minute of time or even three minutes. The three minute egg timer was a popular item in many kitchens. Some are still being used, but most of them are in antique collections.
During the thirteenth century wheel clocks came into use and the wheel clock principle is still in use today. We are all familiar with the quartz movement clocks and watches of today, which were first introduced around 1934.
In the late 1980s an atomic clock which measured time by the frequency of radiation was put into use.
The Condition of Antique Clocks
The model name and condition of an antique clock today is essential in determining their value in the antique market. The more original parts that still remain, the easier it will be to repair. Missing gears and wheels, or an advertising panel from the front may be hard to replace. There are several value guides and books available. The National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors has a club and a museum accessible online. They also have a message board where collectors and consumers can discuss repairs, books, and many other issues pertaining to clocks and watches..
Types of Antique Clocks
Advertising and Figural Clocks
Two of the more popular advertising clock makers were John Finzer and Brothers and the E. Schmidt and Company manufacturers. The advertising on these was mainly tobacco, and equine tack gear.
The alarm clock made it's debut in the 1800's, being manufatured by such companies as Ansonia, Ingraham, Kroeber, Seth Thomas and Waterbury. By the late 1800's the clock makers of that time slowly moved into creating the figural clock designs. Seth Thomas produced a violin shaped clock about 1890, and a miniature four wheel movement clock was produced by the Zappler company. Many well known brands, still popular today, had advertising placed on clocks. Everything from ads for shoes, to tobacco products and soft drinks was placed on the clocks of that day.
Mantel and Shelf Clocks
Among the most significant manufacturers of shelf and mantel clocks were Ansonia, J.C. Brown, the Jennings Brothers, and the E. N. Welch Company. Box and cottage style antique clocks were produced by Ansonia,William L. Gilbert, Jerome and Company, Seth Thomas and Waterbury. bracket type clocks were produced by Joseph Bosley of London about 1750. John Monkhouse and Payne and William Smith, also of London created many George I style clocks.
Calendar clocks were produced in the early 1900s by Ansonia, with an Egyptian motif. A. Brocat and Delettrez of Paris, Ingraham and Ithaca produced clocks in mahogany veneer case. Waterbury at that time produced it's own version of an office calendar clock. Pressed oak and mahogany veneer became very popular for creating clock cases. Limoges was also involved in the production of a line of clocks.
Figural clocks with crystal regulators became popular in the late 19th century. Ansonia, W. L. Gilbert,Ingraham,Hawk,the New Haven Clock Company, Seth Thomas, Waterbury, and Welch all produced these types of clocks. Mantel and Shelf clocks were very popular in the early 1900s and those same clocks are now very collectible. All of them are very valuable in the antique clock market of today.
Wall and Calendar Clocks
These antique clocks were created in plain and ornate cases. Several shapes and sizes contained beautiful carved mahogany as well as oak. Mnay of them also had hand painted home and landscape scene panels on the front. Gradually the clock makers made use of brass and other metals in the production of clocks faces. Then in 1930, the Cuckoo clock became a popular item in living rooms across the world. The Lalique Glass encased antique clocks with their unique opalescent decoration must have truly been a sight to behold. Wall clocks today have become a simple everyday item. Very little attention is paid to them as long as they match the décor in the room.
Tall Case Clocks
At the same time many manufacturers also produced the tall case clocks and the ones we now refer to as grandfather clocks. Tall case clocks were being created by several clock makers as early as 1770.
Maintenance and Reproductions
Maintenance and Reproductions
Many of these clocks had to be wound daily as they only ran for about thirty hours. As more advancements were made in the creation of the clock, eight day clocks then became more popular.
There are many reproductions of the older antique clocks available today. The Grandfather Clock, a Tall Case clock has been reproduced by many clock makers. To find the real ones and to find them in good condition may take several trips to a variety of antique shops.
However, there are several websites online for researching antique clocks, as well as the many resources at your local library.