Antique mantel clock value
An easy-to-follow guide on how to determine the worth of your old mantel clock
“How much is my old mantel clock worth?”
There is no direct answer to this question without taking into account the many factors that influence the final selling price of an antique mantel clock.
Having your old mantle clock professionally-appraised is the best option when it comes to quality and unbiased assessment, with an appraisal fee; and if you’re unsure of the clock’s worth, you might end up losing money.
Another option is to perform an initial appraisal of the clock. An initial appraisal is a preliminary assessment of the clock’s worth by looking for some signs of value.
Generally, valuating old clocks is complicated because you have to take a look at both the aesthetics and the technicalities of the piece. The process can be divided into three steps: Identification, Evaluation and Pricing.
Identification is the digging of information (maker, manufacturer, history, etc.) about the item, Evaluation is checking the clock’s current state and Pricing is setting a corresponding monetary value of the piece.
Antique mantel clock identification
It is common knowledge that the quality of a piece is synonymous to its maker. Hence, finding the identity of your vintage mantle clock is a crucial step.
1. Is your antique mantel clock made by a reputable manufacturer?
The quality of an old mantle clock is synonymous to its maker. Hence, finding out the maker of your clock comes in first.
Most American and European, except for the French, mantle clock makers signed their clocks. Look for the manufacturer’s stamp on the dial, the back or underneath the clock’s case. The absence of stamps or markings suggests that it’s French-made.
Some of the respected mantel clock manufacturers are Simon Willard, Ansonia, Seth Thomas and Waterbury.
2. Does the old mantle clock have a mechanical movement?
In antique mantle collecting, the first requirement for an item to be considered collectible is that it must have a mechanical movement. The movement is the mechanism that powers the clock.
You don’t have to open the clock to find out its movement. If your clock is an heirloom that has been handed down through generation, then it’s most likely powered by a mechanical movement. Another visual hint is the winding hole on the dial of the watch.
3. What type of mechanical movement does your vintage mantel clock have?
There are three common types of mechanical movements in a clock: Time Only, Time & Strike and Chiming.
Mantel clocks with “Time Only” movements are limited to just telling time. These types have only one winding hole on the dial. Those with “Time & Strike” do not only tell time but also strike the hour; these usually have two winding holes. Lastly, pieces equipped with “Chiming” movements play melodies on each quarter of the hour and have three winding holes.
Old mantle clock evaluation
Now we go to evaluating the condition of the clock. Condition refers to the state of the item. Most of the time, an old clock’s condition is perceived by how good it looks. A piece that looks good as new will definitely be priced more than a damaged one.
1. Is the antique mantle clock still working?
In old mantle clock collecting, timepieces in excellent working condition are highly valued. Non-working pieces, on the other hand, are sold as scrap to horologists for the parts.
To check, gently wind the clock. The hands should then start moving. If your clock has a striking or chiming movement, gently move the minute hand to the hour to find out if its striking or chiming mechanisms are still working.
2. Are there any chips, dents or damages on the case of the antique mantel clock?
Any damages on the clock’s case will reduce its selling price. Inspect every part of the case and take note of any dents, damages or signs of tampering.
In rare instances, collectors overlook damages on the case. This is true for very rare mantel clocks.
3. Is the dial original to your vintage mantle clock?
The dial can be made of metal, paper or painted. Find out if the dial is original to the clock by inspecting its visual appeal. Marks, fading, discoloration and any signs of age on the dial will fetch greater price than clocks with repaired dials.
4. Is your old mantel clock of good quality?
Quality timepieces come with a premium since the early years of mantle clock making. So you’ll find that top-quality items are highly-priced by collectors.
With the exception of slate or marble mantel clocks, weight is often a gauge of good quality. Well-made clock hands and elaborate engravings on the backplate and case are also indicators of quality.
Price of vintage mantel clocks
Now that you have an idea of your antique mantel clock’s identity and condition, we proceed to the actual valuation.
It is hard to set a specific amount for a clock as there are other factors to consider such as demand and rarity. Factors that only clock experts know. But with the help of the Internet, you should be able to figure out the price range of your piece.
As you may have known by now, the Internet is filled with information about antiques and collectibles. Auction websites like eBay and online classified ads are great places to check how much an antique goes in worth.
Go to eBay and similar auction websites and look for mantel clocks similar to the one you have. The initial bid and final selling price would suggest how much your old mantel clock is worth in the market.
It’s essential that you understand this. The appraisal price, and even the price listed on auction websites, is just the opinion of your mantel clock’s value. The real worth of the item is the amount that the buyer is willing to pay.