Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Cuckoo. Cuckoo. Bong. Bong. Do you have old clocks in your house? Do you carry an old pocket watch or have an old wristwatch? If you do, then I’m sure you recognize the above sounds. There’s nothing like an old clock! Sometimes the sound of an old clock can be soothing, but other times, they tend to keep us awake at night, especially if they chime every 15 minutes!
When you are out picking, how do you know whether a clock is good or not? First of all, is it running? If not, ask the proprietor if the clock will run. Sometimes repairing a clock can become very costly; but most of the time, it is worth it. In key wound clocks, it is usually one of the springs that goes first. I had a mainspring repaired in a New Haven Tambour clock and the repair cost about $75 including a cleaning, but sometimes the repairs can be more costly than that.
How do you date an old clock? The large clock that is pictured was fairly easy. When I opened the door, I looked for a paper glued to the back of the inside. This told me all the information that I needed. This particular clock is an E. Ingraham & Co. clock from Bristol, Connecticut. The paper is in excellent condition and tells me that the latest patent was May 10, 1864. I then searched the internet for E. Ingraham & Co. and found that Elias Ingraham registered 17 clock patents between 1857 and 1873. So, I can assume that this particular clock was made somewhere in that time, most likely closer to 1864. Sometimes, you can date a clock by markings on the metal workings inside. If you search on the Internet, you can usually find information on how to date your particular clock.
This particular Ingraham clock is still in good working order for a clock that is approximately 150 years old! I simply insert the key and wind it carefully, start the pendulum, and listen to the tick-tock. But, it does have a very loud “bong” that tends to keep us on our toes.
I have also included in the picture a Waltham pocket watch and a “Little Orphan Annie” watch. Pocket watches vary in so many styles and features. Gold pocket watches have become extremely popular lately, mainly because of the price of gold. This particular watch is a Waltham made in 1897. There are many charts on the internet to find the exact year that a pocket watch was made. Also pictured is a “Little Orphan Annie” wristwatch made around 1935 by New Haven Clock and Watch Company. These watches were a popular collectors’ piece based on the comic strip by Harold Gray.
It is so much fun collecting old clocks! If you are fortunate enough to have an antique grandfather’s clock, a gold pocket watch, a cuckoo clock from the Black Forest in Germany or a mantel clock passed down to you from an older relative, take good care of it! Whenever I hear an old clock ticking, I am reminded of a little song I learned as a child - “My Grandfather’s Clock” (“90 years without stumbling, tick, tock, tick, tock….”). I often think of how many of my relatives wound the clock or listened to it chime or how many times someone glanced at the clock to keep on schedule! Just remember – time is relative!
Ellen Geisel is the owner of Barker’s Grove Antiques located in White Horse, PA. She owns several old clocks and occasionally has old clocks in her store for sale!