Like every other category the ‘furnishing’ examples, such as provincial George III and later 8-day and 30-hour longcase clocks, run-of the mill bracket and mantel clocks and barometers have fallen in value, but not as dramatically as comparable furniture examples. Of course, there are always exceptions; popular, renowned local makers, vernacular rarities and rare/preeminent models will still surprise many. Any unusual, or rare feature, whether that be regarding the movement, or case will tend to buck the trend. There are still those that want a local clock, or clocks from a particular county, town or district. The maker has a great bearing on the value too. Top makers from every era, from Thomas Tompion, Joseph Knibb to George Graham representing the golden age of British horology. The values of these makers’ clocks have increased in value over the years and this has meant that many collectors started collecting works by their talented apprentices, such as Thomas Mudge and William Dutton. The market is very strong for such stellar names, but this is irrespective of date. Hence, the renowned 19th century makers, Vulliamy and Dent are still very popular today.
Rare or ground-breaking movements always excite the market, from Tompion’s rare three train grande sonnerie bracket clock to those of the 20th century, such as Roland Jarvis’s astronomical clocks. Then there are those that combine scale with aesthetics and just ooze quality and ostentation, such as James Cox’s export wares for the Orient.
Astrological, automaton, mystery, skeleton, novelty, musical and annular clocks all have their followers. Those with a penchant for accurate time keeping home in on regulators and chronometers. There is a strong market for the best in most categories, covering movement, case and maker, but there is a thirst for English carriage clocks, early lantern clocks and illustrious makers and retailers of the 20th century, from Breguet for the former to Cartier and Asprey for the latter. The name invariably makes a big difference, as it confers kudos where the quality isn’t a factor, but will give the owner prestige as well as admiration when it combines both name and superlative workmanship.
The clock market is very good for certain makers at present and at Halls we have enjoyed some excellent results for both regional and London makers in recent auctions. A strut timepiece retailed by Hancock and signed by Thomas Cole doubled estimate when it sold for £3,700 whilst a 30-hour oak longcase clock by Samuel Roberts of Llanfair sold for a multiple estimate £2,800.
Good eighteenth century mahogany cased longcase clocks by London makers and with silvered dials are very much sought after as are regional makers such as Samuel Roberts and Owen of Llanwrst. Although country longcases with 30 hour movements have plateaued somewhat and white dial longcases with eight day movements have also dipped, the very best examples will still command a premium.
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