Horace Tifft Banjo Clock, ca. 1840
I have an antique banjo clock that's been in the family for-- through my great-grandparents, that I know of.
And where were they from?
Central New York. My dad wound it every Saturday for as long as I can remember.
Do you know anything about it?
No, I really don't. Just know it's a banjo clock, and that's it.
That's it. Well, what you brought we do call a banjo clock today. Originally it was called an improved timepiece. And the form was invented by Simon Willard in 1802. And he actually had a patent for this clock. The patent ran out after 14 years and clockmakers that were in the business of making tall case clocks soon started taking orders for these because they were so much less expensive that the tall clock pretty much fell out of fashion as a result of that. Banjo clocks were made in significant numbers. And this is a clock that really represents the end of the line in terms of arguably handmade production. After this clock, which was made in North Attleboro, Massachusetts, by Horace Tifft, the big companies of Connecticut start making clocks and clockmakers can't compete. A clock like this originally sold for somewhere in the neighborhood of $30, at a time when you could buy a clock out of Connecticut for, oh, say, five, six, seven or ten dollars apiece. So it was really a grand luxury to have a brass movement, weight-driven clock from North Attleboro. This clock has a lot of the Attleboro features: canted frames, wooden side arms, wooden bezel, and the little brass hooks that are on the side. This case is a mahogany case. The canted frames indicate it's the latest form in terms of production. They would have started with flat frames and then gilded frames. And these canted frames were really the end of the line. It's made circa 1840. It's really the earliest version of the Attleboro clocks. And they're made until about 1850, and the production is, for the most part, all done in clocks like this. This is sort of the entry level, weight-driven banjo that collectors look for and the condition of it is just absolutely perfect.
The dial is in very nice condition, the hands are really wonderfully shaped. You know that the finial has been replaced at some point. But it's an appropriate finial for the form. It doesn't really detract from the clock at all. In a retail shop, if you had to replace a clock like this, you should expect to spend somewhere around $2,500 for an example that's as good as this.
Nice, very nice.
Not a bad day's pay.
Executive producer Marsha Bemko shares her tips for getting the most out of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW.
Value can change: The value of an item is dependent upon many things, including the condition of the object itself, trends in the market for that kind of object, and the location where the item will be sold. These are just some of the reasons why the answer to the question "What's it worth?" is so often "It depends."
Note the date: Take note of the date the appraisal was recorded. This information appears in the upper left corner of the page, with the label "Appraised On." Values change over time according to market forces, so the current value of the item could be higher, lower, or the same as when our expert first appraised it.
Context is key: Listen carefully. Most of our experts will give appraisal values in context. For example, you'll often hear them say what an item is worth "at auction," or "retail," or "for insurance purposes" (replacement value). Retail prices are different from wholesale prices. Often an auctioneer will talk about what she knows best: the auction market. A shop owner will usually talk about what he knows best: the retail price he'd place on the object in his shop. And though there are no hard and fast rules, an object's auction price can often be half its retail value; yet for other objects, an auction price could be higher than retail. As a rule, however, retail and insurance/replacement values are about the same.
Verbal approximations: The values given by the experts on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW are considered "verbal approximations of value." Technically, an "appraisal" is a legal document, generally for insurance purposes, written by a qualified expert and paid for by the owner of the item. An appraisal usually involves an extensive amount of research to establish authenticity, provenance, composition, method of construction, and other important attributes of a particular object.
Opinion of value: As with all appraisals, the verbal approximations of value given at ROADSHOW events are our experts' opinions formed from their knowledge of antiques and collectibles, market trends, and other factors. Although our valuations are based on research and experience, opinions can, and sometimes do, vary among experts.
Appraiser affiliations: Finally, the affiliation of the appraiser may have changed since the appraisal was recorded. To see current contact information for an appraiser in the ROADSHOW Archive, click on the link below the appraiser's picture. Our Appraiser Index also contains a complete list of active ROADSHOW appraisers and their contact details and biographies.