Benjamin Morrill Shelf Clock, ca. 1816
Appraised Value: $90,000 - $110,000
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (3:33)
GUEST: In 1963, my wife's cousin passed on, and she received this from her estate. And as far as... the background, I don't know.
APPRAISER: You brought in a shelf clock. This was amongst the earliest form of American clocks made, and they were tall because they needed to be driven by a weight, and you had to have the room for the weight to drop. This has really got all the things you want to look for when you're looking for a great antique. First of all, all the things that it was made with originally are there, except one thing, I think, and that is the possibility that there was a little brass finial up here. The reason I think that is because there's a hole in this plinth, and that hole probably was the screw part to a finial. Nobody has really taken it upon themselves to repaint things, to touch things up, to refinish it, and these are the kind of things that tend to cast a shadow or question on a piece's originality and value.
APPRAISER: So it's all-original. The second part is that we have a very strong attribution for this clock. It was made in New Hampshire and very likely would have been sold to somebody living in the Boston area. If we look at the dial here, we note that there's a signature here, and it's clear. It's not altered or reinforced in any way. The maker is Benjamin Morrill. In New England, they'll say...(with New England accent ): Boscawen. (laughs) In Philadelphia, where I'm from, they say Boscawen. But that's a little town in New Hampshire. We know Morrill well. He was at work between about 1816 to 1840s. And he made all kinds of clocks with a variety of quality, but this is unquestionably one of the higher-quality pieces. These hand-painted dials were very popular after about 1800 with American clocks. This artist is depicting winter. The lakes were probably frozen over in New Hampshire. The reverse-painted panel is a hand I recognize, having the Lady Liberty, but we don't know who did it. It's very beautifully proportioned. It has a lovely frieze here with the flame maple panel, which is a veneered panel, very typical of cabinetmakers working in New Hampshire. Inlay all around the case, very plain yet elegant. It's very federal in nature in that it's colorful. You've got a gold and green reverse painting, and a broke arch with that painting on it all makes for color and charm. It's mahogany case. Now, I understand you were made an offer for this clock. Is that right?
GUEST: Well, this was back in... when I was in Boston, about six years ago. I showed some photographs. And from the photographs, I was made an offer of $25,000.
APPRAISER: Well, I had talks with some of the other people at our table, and we all got together and gave our thoughts on it. And, actually, the thoughts vary somewhat. But in my opinion, I think that the replacement value of this clock could be well into the $90,000 range or perhaps $110,000, because it's just the kind of thing--
GUEST: Can't believe it.
APPRAISER: --that many collectors love to get.
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