Rare Ingraham Huron found on a local online for-sale site
Rare Ingraham Huron shelf clock was once sought after by collectors

Prices will not rise any time soon as modern generations have been conditioned to discarding old for new irrespective of merit and in contradiction to the ideology that recycling saves the planet

There will always be rare clocks or clocks with a historical significance but generally speaking clock prices have tumbled over the past 15 years. Why are clock prices so low?

I have acquired some very nice clocks for rock bottom prices. While it is part luck there is good evidence that recent clock sales illustrate that prices have never been lower.

There are many clocks that no one wants. Gingerbreads, school house clocks, mantel clocks, Ogees (particularly the 30 hour ones), calendars and better quality clocks that go for ridiculously low prices. Good for collectors, not so good for sellers. I do not anticipate prices to rise any time soon as modern generations have been conditioned to discarding old for new irrespective of merit and in contradiction to the ideology that recycling saves the planet.

Millennials are also facing a very different world than I and my contemporaries faced. Factory work or clerical positions are now considered a good job and young people are staying with mom and dad living in their old rooms as they try to pay off mortgage size student loans. Under those circumstances you will not consider buying a tall case clock or an 18th century French clock.

Thanks but I have no place to put one

My generation (I am in my 60s) did not typically have mechanical clocks in their homes (except Grandfather and cuckoo clocks), so younger people today do not have those kind of memories to inspire nostalgia. Therefore, the old clocks we have loved are not in their sights for purchase. An offer to give a clock to a millennial is often met with the reply, “Thanks but I have no place to put one” and of course, winding it is a hassle. A visit to any antique store or clock fair says it all when observations show the average age of visitors and traders are often in their “senior” years.

Junghans Crispi wall clock, not rare but a fascinating history

Prices of clocks really did not begin their rise in value (at least in North America) until the mid to late ’50’s. Since then and up until the late nineties prices went up through the roof. However, since the year 2000, the economy has been spiraling downward. Paralleling the declining economy is the decline of prices for antiques of all types. The at-times spectacular and troubling declines in real estate values, increasing unemployment and fewer discretionary dollars have all had an influence on dropping clock values.

I collect clocks and other antiques for interest and history alone

I collect clocks and other antiques for interest and historical value alone. Collecting in this way will often allow me to acquire a piece and it is a measure of comfort in knowing that there is no worry about future rises in value. I acquire clocks simply because I want them, and pay a price that is worth it to me. If I see something that I do not have, it is unique or has some historical value and it is a reasonable price (to me), I will buy it. I now confine my collection to what I determine to be unique acquisitions.

However, many of us collectors are aging and downsizing. Few are in buying mode and many want to sell. The result is a glut of often lesser quality clocks that were bought at higher prices.

French mantel clock
French mantel clock, a very nice clock at a ridiculously low price

Unless you are prepared to learn how to repair or somehow care for an old mechanical clock you are faced with the prospect that the cost of repair far exceeds the value of the clock. Sentimental reasons trump repair costs but the reality for the clock repair person is, “keep it, it is not worth the cost of repairing”. And often the customer is correct.

Will prices get better? Perhaps, but not in the foreseeable future.

 

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