French Industrial Clock, ca. 1890

Value (2010) | $10,000 Auction

Well, it was passed down through the family. It was my great-grandfather's. I was told he moved over here from France, turn of the century. He was a clock and jewelry maker.

Well, it's a very unusual clock, and it's of the type that we call a French industrial clock. The clock was made in France about 1885 to '95. And this particular one in the form of a locomotive has animation. The wheels actually turn when the clock is running. And the way you get those to work is you wind it right here. It's a separate mechanism that runs the automation. And then here we have the time and strike mechanism for the clock itself. Now, these French industrial clocks were very popular in the last quarter of the 19th century. They made them in several different forms-- locomotives, windmills, where the windmill would rotate. They even made automobiles where the wheels would turn. They were very, very popular. And they're still popular with collectors. This particular example has some condition issues, though. This right here was a barometer, which is now broken, and the dial is missing. But that could be repaired. A good clock repairman could probably substitute an antique barometer of the same type. They're pretty much interchangeable. It has a thermometer here, which is missing. Again, that's something that can be restored. And the words are written in English, which is another thing that tells us that it was made for the American market.


Another condition issue is that these rods here that drive the wheels are replaced. The clock is made primarily of brass, and it has a wonderful patina. The clock runs for eight days on a winding. In terms of value, I would say at auction, a realistic price, I would expect it to bring about $10,000 in its current condition. Now, had this been a perfect clock, an example almost identical to this sold last year at auction for $31,600.


If this clock were restored, and it's definitely worth restoring, it would bring $20,000 to $25,000 at auction.

That's great. Well, I appreciate that, Gary. Thank you very much.

Thanks for bringing it in.

Appraisal Details

Gary R. Sullivan Antiques, Inc
Canton, MA
Appraised value (2010)
$10,000 Auction
Biloxi, MS (July 24, 2010)

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