Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS


Support ANTIQUES ROADSHOW by supporting public television! Give Today
  • SHOP
  • Appraisals

    Fake Elnathan Taber Coffin Clock

    Appraised Value:


    Appraised on: July 8, 2006

    Appraised in: Mobile, Alabama

    Appraised by: Sean Delaney

    Category: Clocks & Watches

    Episode Info: Mobile, Hour 1 (#1110)

    Originally Aired: March 26, 2007

    slideshow IMAGE: 1 of 1  

    More Like This:

    Form: Movement
    Material: Wood
    Value Range: $1,500

    Related Links:

    Understanding Our Appraisals
    Useful tips to keep in mind when watching ANTIQUES ROADSHOW


    Appraisal Video: (3:38)


    Appraised By:

    Sean Delaney
    Clocks & Watches

    Delaney's Antique Clocks

    Appraisal Transcript:
    GUEST: Well, we saw this clock at auction about 20 years ago, and we wanted it but it went a little above our budget. And apparently the clock collection was dispersed recently, so about a year ago, it came up again. And, uh...we bought it.

    APPRAISER: And you fell in love with it 20 years ago, and you've always wanted it.

    GUEST: We like the case.

    APPRAISER: This is a very rare form of what they call a "coffin clock." Made by Elnathan Taber, of Roxbury, Massachusetts. He's a very famous maker, Elnathan Taber. He had a brother Stephen Taber as well. He was an apprentice to Simon Willard, who was our country's most famous clock maker. Elnathan Taber was a very good friend of Simon Willard. He worked from 1790 to 1854. And he was really one of the few guys who made coffin clocks like this, and he was pretty famous for these clocks. They're very simple, very primitive in design. What did you pay for it at auction, if you don't mind me asking?

    GUEST: $3,500.

    APPRAISER: $3,500?

    GUEST: Yes.

    APPRAISER: Well, Bruce... if this was real, it would be a fantastic buy.

    GUEST (groaning): Aah...

    APPRAISER: But unfortunately, this was made with the intent to deceive.

    GUEST: Okay.

    APPRAISER: And there's a number of reasons why I know this.

    GUEST: All right.

    APPRAISER: Most often, this would be a mahogany case, and it wouldn't be painted like this. So whenever we see paint, it's sort of a warning flag. And someone did a pretty good job of kind of grunging it up and making it look bubbled, but not a great job, because if you open it up... you'll see that they painted the inside of the case as well, and there's really no reason to paint the inside of the case. It wasn't a painted clock to begin with. And they also got paint on the hinges here. And you can actually see paint on the dial as well. So somebody was a little bit sloppy when they did this. Also, when you look at these Elnathan Taber coffin clocks, they're usually engraved on the weight tin down here,

    GUEST: Okay.

    APPRAISER: and not on the dial, as you'll see right here. The signature is not too great. The "Roxbury" is a little blocky. It's just not well done. And to the eye, when you see a clock like this, you can tell when a signature's original or not if you see enough of them. If you look at the fretwork here, and it's the wrong form. It doesn't really reach up, and it's not graceful. It's a little bit short. It fails in proportion. So it's not a real good job there. The blocking is suspect. The glue blocks here, they have an oxidized front but not oxidized from the back. Some of these clock I'll see, that have come through, will have just a solid case right here without a pendulum aperture. And when you see a pendulum aperture, you usually see it perfectly round, like the bob of the pendulum, and not this oval shape.

    GUEST: Okay.

    APPRAISER: So that's wrong as well. It is a nice clock. It's a nice look, but it's not what it's as represented.

    GUEST: Fair enough.

    APPRAISER: If it was real, it would be a $25,000 clock. The movement is period. The dial has aged, but it's also been age-processed-- somebody's used some sort of varnish or something to make it look older than it really is. I do believe that the dial's probably period. It has a nice decorative look, that value-wise... would probably be around $1,500 for a look like this with a period movement, but not much more than that. When I first saw it, I was very excited about it. But the closer it got to me, the more it showed its hand.

    GUEST: Okay.

    APPRAISER: So that's what you have, Bruce. But thank you for bringing it in.

    GUEST: Hey, fair enough. Thank you.

    WGBH This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2015 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.

    ROADSHOW on Facebook ROADSHOW Tweets ROADSHOW on YouTube