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From Clocks To Stoves
( Orginally published 1962 )
Not too long ago an old-fashioned so-called grandfather's clock, made in the latter part of the eighteenth century, was valued at over one thousand dollars.
Almost all of the old American clocks have some value. Even the old pine mantel clocks of a century later can be worth from $80 to $90 apiece, depending on condition, age, etc.
One name to remember in clock hunting is Seth Thomas, who began his own "clock factory" shortly after the beginning of the nineteenth century.
When the company was started, approximately twenty men worked there-and they were paid once a year! From 1813 to 1837 they made such things as looking-glass clocks and hall clocks, all of them with wooden movements, but in 1838 brass movements were introduced and in 1860 perpetual-calendar clocks were made by the company.
One fact worth remembering in your search for old Seth Thomas clocks is that labels on Seth Thomas clocks read "Plymouth Hollow" until 1866, when the name appearing on the clock labels as town of manufacture was changed to "Thomaston" in honor of Seth Thomas.
Also watch for the American clocks of Eli Terry, a contemporary of Thomas'. Nor should you forget the European clocks which were brought to America by the settlers of the eighteenth and nine teenth centuries. Some of these clocks date as far back as the 1600's and their value depends on their age and their condition. There are English clocks, French clocks and Swiss clocks, all of them worth watching for.
Also do not forget the smaller items of this art-the watch of yesterday which your ancestor proudly displayed to his friends as he entertained them in his home. These watches, some of them dating back to the 1500's, were brought to America-only to be lost in the vicissitudes of time and war and cross-country pioneer treks.
Watches from all nations and from the past four centuries have value-if you can find them. So take another look at that old watch that has been in the family for so many generations. It might well be that in your case it is really a time for treasure.
Perhaps, while looking for grandpa's old watch, you might run across other objects which today are worth something-like old inkwells which can be worth $100 apiece or even more, if they are of fine workmanship, old enough, and rare enough.
Or you might find an old piece of silver dating back two or more centuries. All of it has value, especially silverware which is hallmarked (that is, marked by the silversmith on the back or on the bottom), perhaps as long ago as the 1500's.
Or you might find old candlesticks, some perhaps of silver, very rare and very valuable. Or perhaps hand-worked, wooden candlesticks worth only a few dollars or so-but all of them worth something.
Or early American lamps of all kinds, including examples of the early "Betty" lamps, some of them maybe imported for use in our early colonies. Any old lamp can have value if it is old enough, rare enough, and in fine enough condition.
One item to watch for, although harder to find in your trips through the second-hand stores, are the chandeliers of yesterday. Sometimes such items are overlooked by the second-hand-store owners because they are unable to date them-and unable to evaluate them. Therefore they just might sell you a valuable one for next to nothing.
This, of course, is no reflection on second-hand-store dealers, only an observation that many times they have neither the opportunities nor the time to evaluate all the items which go through their hands.
This, however, is not true of the antique dealer-who can evaluate any old chandelier which you might find. If you are lucky enough, you might even locate chandeliers of rock crystal from the periods of Louis XIV and Louis XV before you leave the secondhand store.
Any old light is worth something. Even an old tavern light, if in good enough condition, can be worth from $70 to $80. Ruby-glass lights can be worth anything from a hundred to several hundred dollars, depending as always on age, etc.
Or, while browsing through the same second-hand store, you might run across hatracks, some of them not even a hundred years old, which can be worth from $50 to $100 apiece.
Or you might find a stave-but not just any stove. This is one that even the experts have searched for and failed to find! For this is the Franklin stove, invented by Benjamin Franklin. The stove in question of course would be Franklin's own stove, and not a later, modified version.
The experts have searched everywhere for this stove-but so far without success. Perhaps you might succeed where even the experts have failed. It has been known to happen before!
Yet even one of the later modified versions can be worth something. A so-called Franklin stove from the nineteenth century can be worth around $100.
From the stove to the sink is not a very long way. For even a sink can have value if it is old enough and fine enough. A Pennsylvania Dutch dry sink, dated in the late eighteenth century, can be worth a couple of hundred dollars-if you can find it. Or a washstand from a century later can be worth from $50 to $75.
Even the doorstop holding open the store door might be worth a few dollars if it is old enough. Anything you see in the secondhand stores, in your attic, or in your cellar might be worth something-if you know what you are looking for.
If it is of fine craftsmanship and if it is lovely-whether it is a clock, a stove or a sink-if it has been made by a master craftsman and is old enough, then it is worth investigating.
Do not ever again pass up that old junk clock, the old trashy sink, or that funny-looking old lamp. They may not be junk after all. They might be collectors' items.