19th-Century Viennese Wall Clock

Value (2003) | $3,500 Insurance

This was a wedding gift from my brother. And originally he offered to give me cash for a wedding gift-- a sum of $1,000.

He was very generous.

And I told him, "I don't want your money. There's something else I'd really like to have." He acquired this clock earlier that year, and I fell in love with it. And he really didn't want to part with it, but he was very generous and he presented it to us as a wedding gift.

Well, it sounds like it was something that you just had to have, right?

Yeah, I wasn't a clock collector. You know, I was newly married. We really didn't have a whole lot of anything.

Johann Rettich, who is the maker of this clock, worked in Vienna, and he worked in the 1840s or so. He's a registered master clockmaker who actually did work for the royal palace at the time. And he was known for making not only these kind of clocks-- that we call Vienna regulators or Vienna wall clocks-- but he also made a line of little Zappler clocks for the desk and also ladder clocks, which were clocks that went down the ladder as they ran. Now, this was made in 1840, and this is a good example of the kind of middle-period work that they did. And if you were to put this next to the ones that were made later by the factories-- they were made by the thousands-- you would right away see that this has a great deal more style and grace to it. The middle-period clocks like this were signified by the graceful lines-- this pediment is a good example-- and the shaped bottoms and the delicate features. They were very well-made clocks as well. Originally this surface was grain-painted, and you can get an idea as to what it looked like originally by looking here. And you can see that that is a painted surface and this surface is still on here, but it's not as pronounced as it used to be.


Let me point out this to you also the finials. Did you ever think that they might be replacements, not the originals?

It never crossed my mind.

I'm concerned about how delicate they are. When I'm suspicious about whether the finials are replaced, I squint and I blot out that part and I just imagine what the case would look like without the finial, and that sometimes answers my question. I think that they're probably replaced. But a great clock. Where do you think it stands valuewise?

Um... You know, if it's worth $1,000, that's great.

I think it's worth more like $3,500 today; that is for replacement purposes.

Oh, great.

Appraisal Details

Appraised value (2003)
$3,500 Insurance
San Francisco, CA (August 16, 2003)

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