Mid-19th Century Precision Regulator Clock
Appraised Value: $10,000 - $14,000
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (3:08)
GUEST: When I was about seven, a lady moved in across the street from my mom and dad. And she had this clock, and through the years she had told me that it was a family heirloom and that there was only three of them in the world. One was at the Smithsonian Institute. And when she was about 85, she gave this to my mother to give to me, so it was a gift.
APPRAISER: She tell you anything about its background?
GUEST: Only that it had been in her family since she was a little girl, that she could remember, so...
APPRAISER: Well, this clock is of probably German or southern German, maybe Austrian origins. It has a signature on it, but I wasn't able to trace that to any particular maker, which is not untypical of these kind of clocks. The thing that I find that's unusual about your clock is that it not only has a rather beautiful case-- its proportions are beautiful, it's very well made of the very best materials-- but also it was made as a precision clock. So probably around 1840 or 1850, when this clock was made, it was a very proud fixture in a watchmaker or clockmaker's showroom area somewhere. Everything about this clock really, mechanically, is built for the purpose of keeping good time.
APPRAISER: The dial, for example-- have you ever wondered why they made such an unusual dial with the minutes going around here and then the hours being shown here and the seconds here? Well, it's said that that's an easier way to tell what time it is to within a second or two. The dial is actually reverse-painted glass, which is unusual. The pendulum, you notice, has alternating rods of steel and brass. This is called a gridiron pendulum, and the way it works is that when the temperature gets hot, the two metals expand against each other and compensate for the distance that's changed with the longer pendulum. Also, a clock that has a long pendulum keeps a better rate of time usually than something of the same quality with a shorter pendulum. This is a very long pendulum, it takes one second to complete an arc, exactly one second.
APPRAISER: It has a deadbeat escapement, which is an inside part which is a very highly precise type of escapement, and then has a weight-driven mechanism. Weight-driven clocks are usually much more accurate than spring-driven clocks.
APPRAISER: It's very well proportioned and very beautiful. It's made of very good select woods, I see burl, walnut or maple were used inside here, along with walnut veneers. This clock was built 150, maybe 175 years ago. I'd say that the replacement value of this has got to be something a little over $10,000.
APPRAISER: 11,000 or 12,000 or maybe 14,000. But I think if we took the time to spruce it up a bit, clean the case, just do some basic things to it, it could bring a substantially higher price than that.
GUEST: That's great.
This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2014 WGBH Educational Foundation.
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is a trademark of the BBC and is produced for PBS by WGBH under license from BBC Worldwide.
WGBH and PBS are not responsible for the content of websites linked to or from ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Online.
PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.