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Grandfather Clocks InformationPosted October 18, 2012
Are you trying to identify the age of you antique grandfather clock. Do you have the serial number for one of your Howard Miller Grandfather Clocks and want to know the year it was made? Same situation with a Ridgeway Grandfather or Floor Clock or one of the Hermle Grandfather Clocks or a Kieninger Grandfather Clock or Grandmother Clock?
What if you see no markings on your grandfather clock. Are you looking only at the grandfather clocks dial or face, or are you also examining the back of the grandfather clock movement. These are the best two places to begin your search.
Many grandfather clocks will have a mechanical grandfather clock movement made by one company and mark as such of the grandfather clock movement, such as a movement made by Hermle Clocks or Urgos or Kieninger Clocks, while the clock may have been made by another company that purchased their movements, such as Howard Miller Clocks or Ridgeway Clocks. The movement suppliers to many brands changed over many tears.
Additionally, one may find the name of the Retailer on the Grandfather Clock dial, which does not necessarily tell you anything about who made the clock case or movement. Tiffany and Company, as an example, sold grandfather clocks, mantel clocks, wall clocks, pocket watches and wristwatches that were made to order by Tiffany for Tiffany, frequently in small lots, with little if any made by Tiffany. From tubular chime grandfather clocks made by Walter Durfee in the late 1800s to some made by the Waltham Watch and Clock Company for Tiffany, the only name showing on the dial is Tiffany. The maker name may or in some cases will not be shown on the dial. Chelsea Clocks, Japy Freres, and Jaeger Lecoutre are 3 of a hundreds of clock makers who made and supplied clocks with the Tiffany name on the dial. This was also true of pocket watches and wristwatches, and suppliers included Jaeger Lecoutre, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Omega, Vacheron Constantin, Movado, Tissot and hundreds of others timepiece makers. High end jewelry store and timepiece retailers like J E Caldwell, Cartier, Bailey Biddle Banks, and Black Starr Frost have also followed this convention for many of the timepieces they have sold, both clocks and watches, including wristwatches and pocket watches, and of course grandfather clocks.
The best place to start when trying to identify the maker and model and history or date of production of a grandfather clock is the dial or face of the grandfather clocks. If it says Howard Miller or Ridgeway or Kieninger or Hermle, as examples, on it, you have your answer right there as to the maker of the clock. As noted above, if the name on the grandfather clock is a retailer, and it could even be something like an Ethan Allen grandfather clock, the search or identification path may be more cumbersome or problematic. In addition, many names of the dials on clocks are of grandfather clock makers, some who made great clocks but do no longer, like Sligh Grandfather Clocks, Bulova Grandfather Clocks (Bulova still makes mantle clocks and wall clocks, and of course wristwatches, all of which we carry and for who we are an Authorized Dealer), Pearl Grandfather Clocks, Trend Grandfather Clocks and the list goes on and on, especially when including antique grandfather clocks.
If you are interested in finding out the history of your antique grandfather clock, aside from searching the web generally, we would recommend both Antique Clocks Price Guide dot com and the Library at the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, whose website is nawcc dot org. NAWCC does free research for members, and they will research for a fee if you are not a member. While they will research the history of the clock and its maker to the extent they can, they will not, b policy, address the value or worth of the clock.
Many people own clocks that were made from Grandfather Clock Kits or from grandfather clock plans. These will each have a unique history, and may be difficult to track down other than through original owners or those to whom it was passed on to. Some of the kit makers included Emperor Clock Company, Mason and Sullivan, and Kuempel Chime Clock Works, which made super high quality grandfather clock kits, yet unfortunately and sadly went out of business after the untimely death of its owner.
Dating the clocks by the movement numbers is an inexact science at best depending especially upon the manufacturer. Howard Miller Grandfather Clocks can be dated by calling Howard Miller, whose website is HowardMiller dot com, and providing them with the serial number. Howard Miller even has recently added a feature to the above noted website where you can look up what the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail price, also known as MSRP, if you input the 6 digit grandfather clock model number. Ridgeway Grandfather Clocks have another story. Even though they are in the last ten or so years the same company as Howard Miller, having been acquired by Howard Miller Clocks, records older than 10 years or so for the Serial Numbers for Ridgeway Clocks were apparently lost or destroyed in a fire or flood or in a move or some such thing. A serial number for a older Ridgeway Clock will not help you to date it.
Additionally, while many people will point to the markings on the back of the grandfather clocks movements, they may simply reflect the specs for that particular clocks movement, not a serial number, even though it may appear it might be. Hermle Grandfather Clocks, and Hermle Clock movements, have not historically had serial numbers on their grandfather clocks, or wall clocks or mantel clocks for that matter.
Some makers, like Chelsea Clocks, have been very good about keeping the serial numbers of their clocks documented and accessible. Some of the Chelsea clock movements have in fact been used as movements in grandfather clocks over the years. Atmos Clocks are another example of a clock that has good and accessible records to look up the age of production of the clock based on the serial number.
Antique grandfather clocks, as well as antique floor clocks and antique grandmother clocks, may best be researched by the nawcc organization noted above, or by a serious horologist who knows antique clocks. A good Google search and a look at the Antique Clocks Price Guide is also always advisable. Google Images too for that matter for identifying grandfather clocks.
There is of course the issue of counterfeit clocks, reproductions clocks, and grandfather clocks that are not all original to each other, known in the industry as a clock marriage. These are completely separate yet critical issues in researching your grandfather clocks value and worth.
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