By Melissa Wynn
Since the first sundial measured the passing of a day, clocks of all kinds have been an integral part of home and garden decor. The clocks in our homes are pieces we look at several times every day and therefore have the opportunity to really enjoy. Available in an endless variety of shapes, sizes and degrees of fancy, there is a clock to fit every style and personality.
Whether you prefer a tall Grandfather clock with a hypnotically swaying pendulum and clean sleek lines or an entertaining Cuckoo style clock that serves up a show every hour on the hour, your local antique stores are your best bet for finding just the right time piece for you.
Clock making is a precise and technical art and the value of an antique clock is often tied to the fame and talent of the maker. Popular clock makers include great talents like Seth Thomas, Eli Terry, Ansonia, Ingraham, Howard Miller and Simon Willard just to name a few. As with all antiques, condition and rarity also contribute to the value of any clock.
Many styles of vintage clock are highly collectible including Grandfather clocks, Cuckoo clocks, mantel or shelf clocks, wall clocks and a wide variety of pocket and jewelry mounted watches.
It is said that the best of things stand the test of time. If that is true then the Grandfather clock is certainly among the best. With little to no change in design since the 1600’s these grand statement pieces, originally called floor or long case clocks, have enticed collectors for centuries. Once a luxury only aristocrats could afford these spectacular standing sentinels still lend an air of grandeur to any decor. The term “Grandfather Clock” replaced the original names when in 1876,
composer Henry Clay Work wrote a song about his Grandfather’s clock that “stood ninety years on the floor and stopped short never to go again when the old man died.” Like the clock itself the song has endured the passage of time, the lyrics still familiar after more than one hundred forty years .
Cuckoo clocks originated in an area of Southern Germany known as the Black Forest and were constructed entirely of wood. Even the plates and gears of the inner workings of these often ornate and elaborate works of art were meticulously carved by hand by artisans of the area, long famous for carvings of all kinds. These whimsies from the woods began to sing and gained their name when Franz Anton Ketterer, a clock-master from Schonwald, designed a system of small bellows and whistles to imitate the call of the cuckoo bird in 1738. The little birds have been popping out of the clocks and into the hearts of collectors ever since.
Mantel or shelf clocks were among the most popular clocks of the 18th and 19th centuries and remain among the most collected today. As a result, many of a time long past have survived in working condition and can frequently be found in little antique shops. Whether you appreciate the workmanship of an all wooden model or prefer the beauty of hand painted porcelain from France there is a mantel clock to suit every taste. Some are simple, made of wood, brass or marble with sleek lines or smooth curves while others are quite ornate, sporting elaborate figurines, intricate carvings, fine porcelain work and even precious metals and gemstones.
Wall clocks offer an endless number of choices for the antique clock connoisseur. From fine examples of centuries old case clocks by famous makers to one of a kind folk art pieces there is a wall clock from days gone by to fit every taste and decor style. Whether you choose your piece for shape, color, size, theme, or just because it is vintage or different, a browse of your local antique shops might just turn up a treasure trove of ideas.
Your clock is an everyday item in your life, pick one that you love. Take the time, to enjoy the time with a time piece that has been ticking for decades. Decorated your home or business space with pieces of time throughout time.