KPM Porcelain Clock, ca. 1890

Value (2017) | $25,000 Auction$35,000 Auction
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GUEST:
It's been in my family for many years. It was my great-great-uncle's. And he lived in Newport, Rhode Island, so I assume he got it there. And I inherited it from my grandmother.

APPRAISER:
And so how long have you had it?

GUEST:
I've had it for 40 years.

APPRAISER:
Wow.

GUEST:
I know that my great-great-aunt had it in a room where, my grandmother told me this, that was all white and gold and this was on the mantelpiece.

APPRAISER:
I can see that.

GUEST:
And it was the central focus of that room.

APPRAISER:
And does it work?

GUEST:
Well, I have not had it working in the time that I've had it, but I do remember, as a child, hearing it chime.

APPRAISER:
Sure.

GUEST:
I thought it was a Meissen piece, that's what my family told me, and that's about all I know about it, so...

APPRAISER:
Okay. Well, let's take a look at it. There's lots of information to cover here.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
First of all, it's made in three parts, as you know.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
The top lifts off, and then the central clock section is a part, and then the base is completely separate. The porcelain would have been made by one manufacturer, and the clock would have been made by a different manufacturer, because there was no manufacturers that would make both.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
Now, to find out who made it, we look at it, and it's a very German look, so Meissen would be a really good guess. The quality is spectacular in terms of detailing, modeling, paint, and everything like that. But if we look at the marks on it, and all three pieces have marks, but we can only look at one, the top here, which I said lifts off, on the underside there's a blue mark, which is a scepter, and next to that is a red mark which says "KPM."

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
Which is the mark of Royal Berlin, which is a porcelain factory in Berlin.

GUEST:
Oh.

APPRAISER:
Now, Royal Berlin, KPM, is spectacular quality, and there are arguments among some experts which is better, in terms of quality. Doesn't matter, but they're both pretty great. So, it's not Meissen, but it's K.P.M.-- still good.

GUEST:
Oh, okay.

APPRAISER:
This right here is Chronos, the Greek god of time.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
Very fitting for a clock. Here on the side we have these wonderful female sphinxes. And a cherub at the bottom, and it's just way over the top. What a piece. Now, when we first saw this piece, we talked, several of us talked about it, and we thought this is probably an exhibition piece, perhaps shipped to the United States for an exhibition.

GUEST:
Oh!

APPRAISER:
And it is both, the porcelain itself and the clock, date from the late 1880s, 1890s. So, they're compatible, certainly, in terms of time, and they should be. We would expect that. I talked to the clock table, and they looked at the clock, and it's made by a company called Lenzkirch.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
And that's kind of a high-end clockmaker in Germany. It would make sense that they would have a German clock. And the best thing about this clock to notice is the spectacular enameled face.

GUEST:
It's beautiful.

APPRAISER:
And the great hands. I mean…

GUEST:
It’s beautiful, yeah.

APPRAISER:
…That is just like kind of the best of the best for this time period, and for this kind of clock. It's hard to speculate how much this would have cost in the 1890s, but a rich person could not have afforded it. It would have had to be an immensely rich person.

GUEST:
Oh, really? Oh, wow.

APPRAISER:
Oh, yes. This would have been perhaps one of the most expensive clocks you could have bought at the time. And there's a lot of damages to this. As you're aware, there's damage up here on the little hourglass. There's a wing that's missing and broken. There's chips to the leaves on his hat. There's several little elements here and there that are missing or glued back in place. But with something this age, and this elaborateness, it's kind of understandable, but we'd still prefer it to be perfect. But it's still an impressive thing to see.

GUEST:
Can you have it restored?

APPRAISER:
You could. Now, the porcelain from a competent… Really expert porcelain restorer, my guess, is it would probably cost $1,000 or $2,000 to have it professionally restored right. If you're going to have it restored, you want it done right, or not at all.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
Other things to notice, though, is the clock's not working, and that's a condition problem. And buying and selling clocks, they really need to be working to bring top dollar. The clock people said that to restore the clockworks would probably be around $1,000. So you're really looking at $2,000 to 3,000, maybe even $4,000 for total restoration.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
But I think that might be money well-invested. Or you say we like it the way it is, we're not going to do anything. Not doing anything is not a bad thing, you just don't want to do the wrong thing. So taking into consideration the quality, the condition problems, I believe that this clock at auction would sell from between $25,000 and $35,000.

GUEST:
Oh, wow. Then it's worth getting restored. (chuckles)

APPRAISER:
I think you should get it restored.

GUEST:
Yeah. Oh, my goodness. Well, that's amazing. Thank you.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
David Lackey Antiques & Art
Houston, TX
Appraised value (2017)
$25,000 Auction$35,000 Auction
Event
Harrisburg, PA (June 03, 2017)
Form
Clock

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