Vintage clocks to be offered at Converse sale, Dec. 29 A two-part auction featuring around 250 lots of vintage clocks and horology-related items will be held on Tuesday, dec. 29, at 3:15 p.m., by Gordon S. Converse & Co., in Wayne, Pa., near Philadelphia.
New England's clock makers in the early 1800s had little to work with in terms of technology to create clocks that would be affordable to the masses. But between 1820 and 1860, there was a proliferation of shelf clocks – so-named because they ended up being quite high and so couldn't fit easily onto mantel pieces. Instead, they were displayed on shelves. And best of all they were affordable.
The skills of the craftspeople in New England's cottage industries (such as reverse painting on glass, stenciling, wood carving and gold leaf skills) were all utilized in the making of these popular shelf clocks. Inside each one were clockworks that also showed off the inventive skills of the Yankee clock makers. Many had calendars, wooden gears, alarm devices and brass (not coiled steel) springs.
“This auction will feature shelf clocks in a variety of styles and sizes, by various makers,” Mr. Converse said. “Bidders will be treated to variations on seminal designs, real-life examples of original patents and crafts skills of the 19th century – enough to fill a museum. We'll have clocks by the Terrys of Connecticut and many made in Bristol, Conn., the Yankee clock making capital from 1800-1850.”
While shelf clocks are expected to take center stage at the auction, dozens of other pieces in a wide array of sizes and styles will also come under the gavel. These will include a 39-inch C. & N. Jerome 8-day repeating brass clock with scored dial; a rare miniature timepiece made by Silas Hoadley; and a circa 1900 Black Forest painted cast iron and tin “Clock Peddler” clock standing 11 inches tall.
Also offered will be a circa 1870s French industrial lighthouse clock, 22 inches tall, with a model Fresno light atop the structure oscillating on the half-seconds; a fine Federal tall case clock (circa 1790-1810), with a dense and dark solid mahogany case and a dial possibly from the shop of Nolan & Curtis; and a 4-candlestick mahogany cased “wagon spring” steeple clock by Birge & Fuller.
The sale will be split into two parts to allow for a brief intermission. The first part will begin at 3:15 p.m. and conclude around 5:30. The second session will start at 6 p.m. Each session will feature 125 lots. To view most of the catalog or to register online, log on to LiveAuctioneers.com. The Italian-American Club is located at 301 West Wayne Ave., in Wayne, Pa., a half hour west of Philadelphia.
Gordon S. Converse & Co.'s next big auction after this will be a general art and antique sale, slated for either February or March 2010. The firm is always accepting quality consignments for future sales. To consign an item, an estate or collection, you may call them directly, at (610) 722-9004; or, you may inquire by e-mail at Gordon@ConverseClocks.com. To learn more about the company and the upcoming Dec. 29 auction, log on to www.AuctionsatConverse.com or www.ConverseClocks.com.