Should a prospective grandfather clocks shopper who is considering purchasing either a new grandfather clocks or perhaps a special antique grandfather clock spotted at a local antique clock or general antiquities store treat them as equivalent purchases. Not at all. An antique grandfather clock can have certain advantages, including perhaps a rich provenance, a likely much louder gong or strike sound on the hour or half-hour, perhaps greater investment potential, and maybe even some unique design, or less likely special grandfather clock feature, which would make it especially endearing to a floor clocks shopper.
At the same time, when one is buying an antique grandfather clock, the first phrase that comes to the mind of this experienced grandfather clock shopper is caveat emptor. Two of the biggest and very real risks are, first, and perhaps most likely, that one will end up purchasing a grandfather clock that ends up becoming a project clock, and at the same time a money pit, and may not ever work as well as the way a brand new grandfather clock would work. In these circumstances, it can not only be harder and much more expensive to find a qualified repair person to fix the clock, but then the risk of parts not being available, or need to be custom-made at some real expense and likely time delay, starts to come into play.
The second biggest risk when considering the purchase of an antique grandfather clock is that the clock may in horological terminology be known as what is called a marriage. Now while in our civil society “a marriage” is generally considered a good thing adding value to society-at-large, in serious clock collecting and investing nomenclature, a “clock marriage” is a “dirty term”. It means that the case and the movement, and/or perhaps other parts as well, were not together when the clock was first made, but were put together at some point more recently. While there can be many good reasons to do this, such as if a clock is in a fire and is rebuilt in a new grandfather clock case or fitted to an older one, it will not be considered a “genuine clock” by serious collectors, and any investment value may essentially be lost. While many marriages can be skillfully hidden, most real expert clockmakers will be able to spot a marriage if they take apart the clock and look inside.
Antique grandfather clocks will also likely not have the same great chime selection, the vast majority being time and strike only, not will the have what we refer to as the “bells and whistles” that many of the new clocks have, such as automatic nightime shutoff, chime-silent option, lower volumes overall, more of a choice or perhaps any actual chimes, and working right out of the container, just to name some of the highlights.
New clocks, such as those made by Howard Miller grandfather clocks and Hermle Clocks, and Ridgeway Grandfather Clocks, Bulova Grandfather Clocks, the Kieninger grandfather clock collection, and the soon-to-be-unveiled Americana Grandfather clock collection (which we are very excited about). Most all of the mechanical grandfather clocks have German 8 day movements, and are highly reliable, and have solid wood cases. What you pay for is what you get, and a grandfather clock customer knows what he or she is getting. Other options can include illuminated dials, chimes including in addition to the most popular westminster chime, also the Ave Maria and Ode to Joy chimes, which were only even introduced on grandfather clocks in recent years.
When purchasing a new clock, there is also the possibility of purchasing a Limited Edition Grandfather Clocks, many of which are quite spectacular, and even Howard Miller’s Limited Edition Tubular Chime Clock known as the JH Miller II Grandfather Clock. The Howard Miller Presidential Grandfather Clock Series and the Ambassador Collection made by Howard Miller also offer the highest-end grandfather clocks they make available, and are probably the most highly sought after brand of grandfather clock today.
The reasonably recent introduction of grandfather clocks, wall clocks, and mantel clocks designed by Ty Pennington for Howard Miller as certainly added to the cache of the brand.
New grandfather clock vs. antique grandfather clocks – it’s a combination of personal preferences and a role of the dice. In any event, first do your grandfather clock research, ideally with the help of an experienced professional.
Below is a picture of a Hershcede Antique grandfather clock in a Gothic style that stood in a large Church in New York City for probably at least the last 80+ years. We will soon be putting this clock up for sale, but here is a sneak preview: