Friday, November 26, 2010

Research, Research, Research.

I was just starting to research a piece I picked up on the weekend at a local auction and I got thinking that maybe you'd like to come along for the ride!

Research is a required skill in this business. It can make the difference in being able to justify pricing a piece at $50 or $500 or $5000.

So, I thought I'd bring you along on the road I am taking while researching an antique clock I bought.

Nice, eh?

I bought it on spec, without really examining it very closely first...which is a mistake!!!

 ALWAYS examine items closely before buying!  Go to that auction's preview, spend the time checking things closely!

When I got really examining it, I realized I really could have goofed had I payed more than the $67 I did pay.  My years of experience tell me that as a decorator piece I could get $100, maybe $150, but if that is all it is worth, I will consider it a bad purchase...yeah, I can get my money out, more than likely, and maybe even make profit, but I bought it thinking it had potential for much more. A touch of auction fever...induced by a previous purchase...which is a completely different blog...coming up soon!

That said, in the money conserving/strapped for cash mood I was in, I would  have likely stopped after another bid or two. Had I been flushed with cash....well, who knows what I would have done.

If nothing else, I am (and you are) about to learn, be educated....which could end up being worth what I paid for the assisting me in my assessing (potential) values of other clocks I come across using the knowledge gained by having to research this piece.

So, it won't be a total loss, even if it turns out to be nothing great.  You will have gotten this education for free...or, at least, for your time reading, and at my out of pocket cost.

When I bought it, I was kind of has all the indicators of some decent age.  Nice patina, what appears to be a hand painted dial, very heavy wear on the gold on the columns on the door, the glass is wavered and has small bubbles, and overall just has a certain "look" about it.

It has sat on one of our bookcases by the fireplace for 4 days now, and I have looked at it off and on. After that period of time, the "excitement" of this fresh purchase has worn off, and I am getting far more critical of it.

All sorts of things are jumping out at me as "wrong" now.

One of the things I noticed right off, even just after purchasing, is that it is missing a piece of hardware that makes sure the weight of the pendulum doesn't fall off.....there is a piece of bright, shiny copper wire wound around the shaft to replace it.  You can even see two spots of solder where the piece had been soldered in place.

"So what?" I had figured. Well, normally, it would have said to me LOOK CLOSER, DAMMIT.

Also, something else has also been niggling in the back of my mind is the trim ring around the face.

It is just too bright, too crisp. Nail heads holding it in are also crisp & shiny, with no patina. This piece appears to be over 100 years old, so the nail heads should more than likely have oxidized, darkened, or even obtained a little rust. Though, I should note, rust doesn't determine age. Rust happens literally overnight if the conditions are right.

But, true PATINA, on the other hand, can not be obtained overnight.  Patina, by the way, is the coloration/oxidization a surface obtains due to age. Wood darkens with exposure to air, as an example.

My thought is the trim ring has at least been replaced, or in the least, and I am thinking more likely, removed and cleaned heavily, with modern nails used to put it back in place.

I also noticed scratches, and what seemed to be fairly fresh scratches, around the screw heads/holes holding the wood panel that is holding the face in place. 

Due to these scratches, I have been wanting to take a look at the movement ever since I got it home.  I've been worried someone had put some modern movement,a repro movement or just made a heck of a mess inside.  A modern movement was unlikely, as I could tell it was likely a period correct style movement, as the shaft holding the hands was square, and the way the hands mounted in place also seemed correct. But, someone could always have done some adapting...epoxy is a popular product.

So, I unscrewed the face, and removed the screws...Before I even removed them, I noticed that the screws were both different.

To remove the panel, I also needed to remove the hands.

These are kept in place with a thin, tapered rod, pushed through the square shaft.  So, I pulled this out, and did it with my fingers. Hmmm...Usually these are fairly tight, having obtained some corrosion, gunk, etc over the years.... and you usually need a pair of pliers.

So, as I removed the hands, I immediately noticed something else I really should have taken more notice of before..I did notice it, and dismissed it as unimportant, though it really was important.

The brass ring that was over top of the hour hand has a square hole that is way too big for the shaft size.  So, if this is the original ring, then the movement has been replaced. Or, hopefully, and preferably, the ring itself is a replacement. Cross you fingers!

So, after I removed the panel, my heart the first thing I spotted was a bright, clean movement and 4 slot headed screws holding it in place, whose heads are bright and shiny.  Normally shiny things attract people and make them happy....not the case in this business! I wanted to see a very dirty movement, screws with many years of dark patina, grunge around the mounting points of the movement from dust, oil and debris, etc.

If I had looked at the clock closely before buying, I'd have seen that the lower two screws were recent (see view in second photo.)

After a closer look at the movement, I have (currently) decide that it is old...but has been heavily cleaned up.

The screws holding it in place are not original, not by a long shot. Could have been put in just last week they are so crisp & new.

But, on a positive note, there are no other visible screw holes, which would almost positively indicate that the movement has been changed. I suppose this movement could be an accurate reproduction, but for now, considering the hand stamping of the number on it, and the way the one gear is kept in place, I still believe it is old....but, the little brass wire holding that gear might be the repair person's "make do" for the part they lost or was missing.

Another thing that concerned me is that the wood is stained inside behind the movement....where you can not see when the face and panel are in place...not so sure this is "right."  How many dresser drawers get stained on the inside by the makers?

So, I have put the face back in place, did more pics in order to post it online, either auction (yeah, probably eBay, as much as I'd like to avoid posting there) or at a set price on, or maybe to send to a clock dealer or collector if it is worth offering it to them, at a set price...if I can determine an accurate value.

So, that is where I am at right now...need to do more research.....

And that is what the next blog will be about! Coming later today or tomorrow!

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