Early 19th-Century George Washington Mantel Clock

Value (2013) | $110,000$125,000

It's always been in my family. My great-great-grandfather bought it from Baltimore. It was in Baltimore for many years until my grandmother moved to Bridgeport.

And that, to me, is a very important thing. I think you mentioned you thought it was the early 1800s.

Around 1805, 1810, somewhere.

One thing that makes antiques particularly, I think, treasured or valuable is that we can trace the provenance back. In other words, we know that the ownership goes all the way back to the original owner of the early 1800s. I'm going to tell you up front this is a very nice, quite a valuable clock. It was a commemorative piece, and there were only a few of them made. The statuary, of course, depicts George Washington, and it shows him at the time of his famous farewell speech to his officers. Down below the dial is a slogan...

"First in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen."

That's right. The statuary is very finely cast, which is typical of what the French were doing. This is a French-made clock. The clockmaker was actually not the name of the man on the clock, whose name is Dubuc. He was a bronzer. He was the caster, and he would sell these clocks to the American market. We know from the address that's on there-- that particular address-- that this clock was made probably between 1808 and 1816. So this is telling us not only a lot about clocks, but also America, and that's why people just love to have these clocks as decoration. But did you know there are also two very similar clocks to these in the White House collection, State Department?

I thought perhaps. We saw one at one time in back of one of the presidents...


...when he was making a speech, and it looked like it.

Now, these clocks have bounced around a lot in value in the last, say, ten or 20 years. About one comes for sale a year. We found one example of one that was similar that brought over $140,000.

Oh, my goodness!

This has some problems. The hands are replaced and the ormolu's redone. This clock has a value today at, let's say, auction between $50,000 to $80,000.

Oh, my goodness! I can't believe that.

Appraisal Details

Update (2013)
Appraised value (1999)
$50,000 Auction$80,000 Auction
Providence, RI (August 21, 1999)
January 30, 2012: A viewer recently pointed out that two different appraisals of clocks marked "Dubuc" posited differing information about Dubuc's role in the clocks' manufacture. One appraisal was from our Season 12 "Politically Collect" episode with appraiser Gordon Converse, and the second was from the Season 11 "Salt Lake City, Hour 2" with appraiser John Delaney.

Delaney clarified the point saying: "Was Dubuc responsible for making the entire clock? Most likely not." However, "The reality is that he must have had a major role in the form's construction or creation. He is credited as being a bronzier in several listings, but he was partly responsible for assembling the form as a whole and bringing [the clocks] into this country, and in many instances is credited with making this form."

Update 12.6.2010: After a November broadcast of this segment, which originally aired in February 2000, a viewer wrote in to say that the appraiser misstated the location of George Washington's farewell address to his officers at the conclusion of the Revolutionary War. General Washington bade farewell to his officers not in Philadelphia, but at Fraunces Tavern in New York City on December 4, 1783. He then traveled to Annapolis, Maryland, and resigned his commission as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army.

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