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A Guide To Identify An Antique Clock

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How would you successfully identify an antique clock? The answer lies in its design, materials, and construction. If you don’t know much about clocks, then you might want to read through our article to get some basic information.

Antique clocks are prized possessions. They add value to homes and businesses. In addition, they provide a sense of history and tradition.

Antique clocks come in various designs and styles. Some are simple, while others are complex. There are also several types of materials used to construct them. This makes identification even harder.

The best way to identify your clock is by reading the markings on it. You mustn’t rely solely on the manufacturer’s description or the price tag. You should also look at the condition of the clock.

Read below for a more in-depth explanation of how to identify an antique clock:

Antique Clocks

Before discovering how to identify an antique clock, here is some information on antique clocks that you may be intrigued to know.

When antique clock collectors are looking to add to their collection, they are usually interested in the specific craftsman or the location of where the antique clock was manufactured. Some may be more interested in the inner mechanism of the clock/ the beautiful artwork. Knowing how to identify an antique clock is so important for collectors as they want to make sure that they are collecting authentic and genuine pieces.

Antique clock identification covers a large range of information, this began in the 16th century when the first collectable clock was crafted as the grandfather clock, and the grandmother clock was first introduced in the 20th century.

Identification of Antique Clock Makers Mark


Firstly, to begin your process of trying to identify an antique clock, you should search for the maker’s name or company name. This will be a step in the right direction as you will be able to gather information such as the date of creation and the location of where it was made.

Throughout thousands of centuries, so many clocks have been manufactured, each with a unique style and design.

All around the world, some of the most famous and expensive clocks were made on continents such as; Europe, Asia, and South America. In most cases, you will be able to identify the clock maker’s name/ company somewhere on the timepiece. It may require you to take a close look with a magnifying glass or a torch if you have one.
There are several places that you may have to look to find the identity of a vintage clock.

Clockmakers of the world used to engrave or print their names into their creations. Here are some of the areas you should look at on your timepiece;

Face/centre of the dial
Edge of the face of the dial (could be covered by bezel)
Stamped on clock movements backplate
Paper label located on the back of your vintage clock
Paper label located on the inner part of the clock case
Pendulum/ key

As you can see, if your clock maker’s name is anywhere to be found on your vintage clock, it will be in the form of engraving, print, or paper label.

Depending on the type of clock that you own, this could be a difficult task. For example; if you own a grandfather clock which is typically heavy, tall, and sometimes attached to a wall it could be difficult to move the grandfather clock in a way where you can access the areas mentioned above. This is why you may need a second person with you to help. However, if you own a clock that’s smaller than a grandfather clock such as a carriage clock, this task will be simple to complete.

Unfortunately, an American clock will usually have some form of identification on them, however, clocks that were made in other countries such as Britain and China are less likely to have a maker’s mark.


Types Of Antique Clocks

Sometimes, the clock style can be the biggest clue when it comes to antique clock identification. Many types of antique clocks exist around the world, each is different in size, style, and material which is what makes them so valuable

Here are some of the different types;

Grandfather clock

It’s probably the most popular and well-known antique clock. The grandfather clock is also called the “old man” clock because it resembles an old man sitting down. A grandfather clock has two hands, one showing hours and the other showing minutes.

The grandfather clock is considered to be the oldest type of clock. They were first introduced during the 17th century and they are still being produced today. These are also sometimes referred to as ‘Tall case clocks’ or ‘Wall clocks’

Carriage clock

A carriage clock is similar to a grandfather clock but instead of having one hand showing the hour and another hand showing the minute, it has both hands showing the hour and the minute.Carriage clocks were used to tell the time before the invention of electric clocks.

They were originally designed to be placed inside a door frame. Today, they are often seen hanging from a wall.

Ticking clock

This is a very rare type of antique clock. Ticking clocks are extremely hard to find nowadays.

They are known for their intricate designs and intricate mechanisms. These clocks are not only beautiful to look at but also very useful.

They were invented in 18th century France and England. They are more expensive compared to other antique clocks.

Vintage Table Clock

These are considered timeless pieces to many antique clock collectors. Also, they are extremely practical to display on small tables and desks in your home. An antique table clock is an extremely popular choice for world travellers due to its practicality.

Cuckoo Clock

The expert craftsmanship of the cuckoo clock is just one of the magnificent features it possesses. The main feature is the fact that these types of clocks have a distinct sound of a cuckoo bird whenever the clock strikes.

Also, the clock material of a cuckoo clock is strong wood which incorporates a wooden movement and is detailed with exquisite wood carvings. It’s one of the best ways to decorate any room in your house.

Mantle clock

Mantle clocks are usually found in living rooms. They’re usually hung or placed over mantels and fireplaces. They’re great additions to any home because they provide warmth and beauty.

You can choose from many different traditional styles such as; American 8-day mantle clocks, glass carriage mantel clocks, and even German HAC walnut mantel clocks.

Bracket clocks

Bracket clocks are commonly found in kitchens. They are usually hung above kitchen cabinets. Bracket clocks are mostly used to keep track of the time while cooking.
There are many different types of bracket clocks available. You can choose from:

American bracket clocks
German bracket clocks
English bracket clocks
French bracket clocks

Antique dealers will usually look for these types of clocks when purchasing or selling.

Some other aspects of a clock that could help when trying to identify an antique clock are;

Type of clock glass (hand style and stencilling)
Mechanical clock movements ( bell/chime rod)
Clock dial material (ceramic/wood/ tin)
Serial number

How much is my clock worth?


It’s important to know how much your antique clock is worth. Some people may buy an antique clock simply because they like the design or the colour. Others may purchase them because they need extra storage space for their belongings.

If you are looking to identify an antique clock, then knowing the value is very important as it will give you a guide on when it was manufactured and whether it is a rare timepiece.

For example, clocks that were made over 300 years ago would typically be worth more than clocks that were made only 20 years ago. Therefore, if your clock is very expensive, it will give you a rough estimate of the timeframe it was made in.

The best way to determine the price of your clock is to visit your local antique dealer or go to an auction house where antique items are purchased and sold.

Here are some of the most popular collectable antique clocks at auction houses.

Seth Thomas Clocks

Seth Thomas clocks are famously known for being beautiful collectable pieces for those who collect and sell antique clocks. Seth Thomas was a famous clockmaker from the 19th century, known for creating each clock he made with a unique style. Usually, Seth Thomas clocks sell for modest prices ranging from £44-£265.

Ansonia Clock

The Ansonia clock is also known as a beautiful collectable. These clocks are often bought by collectors and enthusiasts alike. Ansonia clocks are classed as Victorian clocks that are highly decorated and incorporate bright colours and finishes. These clocks are generally priced between £50-£300.

Baldwin Clocks
Baldwin clocks are another type of collectable clock that is extremely well known throughout the world. Baldwin clocks are considered to be one of the finest examples of British craftsmanship. The clocks are usually handcrafted using brass and wood. The clocks are very decorative and have intricate designs. Prices range from £100-£600.

Victorian Clocks

Victorian clocks are another type of clock that is very popular amongst collectors. These clocks are very similar to Seth Thomas’s clocks but are slightly smaller. They are classed as Victorian-period clocks that are often made out of iron or steel. Prices start at around £200.

E. Howard & Company Clocks

E. Howard & Co. clocks are also known for their high quality and durability. E. Howard & Co. has been producing clocks since 1825. Their clocks are classed as early American clocks that are very durable and can last up to 100 years. Prices range from £150-£500.

Drocourt Carriage Clocks

Drocourt carriage clocks are also known for having a large collection of models. Drocourt carriage clocks are classed as French clocks. These clocks are very elegant and are designed to look like a carriage. They are usually made of mahogany and cost between £250-£1,000.

Gustav Becker Clocks

Gustav Becker clocks are also known for making excellent quality clocks. Gustav Becker clocks are classed as German clocks. These clocks are usually made of metal and are very
sturdy. Prices range from £130-£400.

How To Value Antique Clocks

If you are looking to try and value or identify your antique clock by yourself, then we can offer a few tips and tricks to get you started.

You should also consider that an item is only considered antique if it is 100 years old or more.

Firstly, you can begin by figuring out if the clock is handmade or not. The craftsmanship is what makes an antique so valuable. A common sign that an antique is handmade is any faults or irregularities with the timepiece. For example, this could be imperfect curves or non-symmetrical features.

Also, you should check the rarity of your antique clock. The rarer your timepiece is, the more value it will hold.

Furthermore, it would be worthwhile to take a look at the type of mechanism that your clock holds. The more impressive the mechanism of your clock is, the more value it will hold. An example of this would be the 8-day cuckoo clock. Typically, on the market, this is seen as more valuable than a one-day cuckoo clock as it has to be winded daily. A clock that incorporates moving figurines is also more valuable.

Lastly, the condition of your antique clock can play a big role in whether it is desirable on the market. If your clock has any value at all, it will fit in to one of these 3 condition types;

Mint condition- The clock is classed as perfect with no repairs or missing pieces.
Excellent condition- The antique clock has minor irregularities and may be slightly damaged.
Good condition- The clock possibly has some noticeable damage such as chips, cracks and discolouration.

Additional Tips For Identifying An Antique Clock

When identifying an antique clock, there are several things that you should keep in mind:

  • If you own an American-made shelf clock, they had wooden movements up until the 1820s.
  • During the early 1800s, the Seth Thomas mantle clocks were crafted using Adamantine veneer so that their texture would resemble wood grains, slate and marble.
  • The United States made it mandatory to have all clocks marked with the country of origin in 1896.
  • During the 18th century; antique wall regulator clocks were first introduced.
  • Before 1905, plywood was never used on clocks.

It is important to remember when it comes to identifying an antique clock that, it may have been transformed during its lifetime. This means that potentially, the clock movement may have been replaced by a different brand. There also may have been alterations made to the clock colour, case, and other distinctive features.
If you are in search of the clock model, you can take a look in a manufacturer’s catalogue which will contain all the different brands and models.

If you are still unsure of how to identify an antique clock after reading this post, it may be worthwhile visiting your local antique dealer who will be able to make an accurate determination on the price of your timepiece. We hope this helped!

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A Guide To Identify An Antique Clock

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