Shopping for an antique clock can seem like an intimidating process. Not only are you buying something that is typically over a 100-years-old, but you are also buying a piece of machinery with many fine, working parts. You should also be aware there are many fake reproductions of antique clocks on the market. It can be hard to distinguish the reproduction from the real thing. With a little practice, research and some shopping experience, you will be able to make a smart buying decision on your next antique clock.
Before shopping for your clock, determine the type of clock you would like to buy. When choosing your clock, determine how much space you have to use. If you have a large area, you may want an antique grandfather clock. If you are short on space, you can get a mantel clock or wall clock. Do plenty of research on your clock of choice. Know when your clock was made, where it was made, the clock maker’s name and any distinguishing features of the clock. The Internet and antique auction catalogs are is excellent resources for this kind of information.
Visit your local antique shop and ask to see their selection of antique clocks. Do not buy the first clock you see. Use your first visit to an antique shop as a learning experience. Ask the sale associate questions and get a feel for the prices. Go to another shop and do the same. Once you feel comfortable in your local antique shop, you will want to visit antique auctions, garage sales and estate sales. Auction houses, such as Sotheby’s, have special auctions devoted to a wide-range of antique clock styles. An auction atmosphere can be intimidating. Visit a few auctions to get a feel for the bidding process. Garage and estate sales don’t have high-pressure bidding. However, issues of authenticity may arise at garage and estate sales. Always ask for documentation with your antique clock. The Internet is also a good resource. You can find many rare cocks on the Internet, but as with garage sales, be careful. Make sure you arrange to test the clock in person before making your purchase.
Before you purchase your antique clock, you will want to make sure it is in working condition. A working clock is worth more than a broken clock. It can also be very expensive, if not impossible, to repair an antique clock. Ask the retailer to demonstrate how the clock works. Watch the clock for a few minutes to ensure the hands move properly, and make sure it’s able to keep time. If possible, have the retailer open the back casing of the clock. Examine the gears as the hands move on the clock. Make sure the gears are clean and there is no visible dirt. Ask to see if there is any paperwork showing the clock has been serviced. Any service should have been done by an antique clock restoration professional. If you have any doubts about the clock’s condition, have a restoration professional test the clock before you purchase.
Examine the label and clock maker's signature. The label and clock maker’s signature will help you determine if the clock is authentic. The he clock maker’s signature will be somewhere on the body of the clock. If the signature is faded, you can check the antique clock’s label. The label can often be found at the bottom of the clock or inside the clock face or backing.