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Auction Report: Waltham Girandole Clock, Serial #1, Hammers for $17,255

by WorthPoint Staff (01/16/12).

The top lot of an auction hosted by Gordon Converse & Co. on Dec. 28 was this Waltham girandole (ornate banjo) clock, serial #1, that gaveled for $17,255.

MALVERN, Pa. – An exceedingly rare and important Waltham girandole (ornate banjo) clock, made around 1900 and with a serial number of 1—making it possibly the first of fewer than 50 made—sold for $17,255 at an auction held Dec. 28 by Gordon S. Converse & Co. The auction was held at the People’s Light & Theater Company in Malvern, west of Pa.

The Waltham timepiece was the top lot of the 400 or so items that changed hands in a sale that featured antique clocks, Asian objects, fine art, porcelain and antiques in an array of categories. The 48-inch by 15-inch clock was made even more desirable to bidders by an unusual added thermometer in the throat. The condition of the clock and case was excellent throughout.

“Historically, collectors have paid premium prices for early 20th-century Waltham clocks because of their high quality and extreme rarity,” said Gordon Converse. “This Waltham clock came to us with an impeccable provenance, but it was the serial #1 that sparked a bidding frenzy. That only made collectors want it more.”

Converse said the size of the crowd attending the auction was respectable but not overflowing, but Internet bidding (through LiveAuctioneers) was quite healthy, with more than 600 registered online bidders. Phone and absentee bidding was also brisk. “It was one of our biggest sales ever, with stable, moderate prices, strong online interest and bidding in all of the categories,” he said.

Converse added, “There were good bargains for collectors of Asian antiques, which were supported by strong international interest and online bidding. There were also some good opportunities for clock collectors who were willing to pay reasonable prices for rare items. And LiveAuctioneers reported record numbers of online views for five of the top 10 items sold.”

Following are additional highlights from the auction (all prices quoted include a 19-percent buyer’s premium):

• Leading the Asian objects category was a display of various Chinese Imperial seals, all contained in a carved Zitan box ($6,545). There was one large central seal, surrounded by 16 smaller seals, all incised with calligraphic writings. Also, a remarkably realistic miniature Japanese carved ivory in the form of a peeled orange (or Clementine) in polychrome, 1 ½ inches tall, hit $5,950.

• Several sets of porcelain panels, some of which may have been originally mounted onto furniture, were sold. One lot of two panels, bound in faux rosewood and measuring 36 inches by 6 ¼ inches, with each panel set off by carved and pierced panels showing the arts, rose to $1,130. Also, a pair of highly-viewed rosewood carved Chinese vase stands (circa 1840) fetched $3,273.

Remarkably realistic miniature carved ivory orange in polychrome, 1 ½ inches tall, realized $5,950.

A patented clock by Aaron Crane of New Jersey, featuring the torsion pendulum, sold for $6,545.

• Clocks were the last items to be offered, but many bidders waited patiently throughout the entire sale just to vie for the treasures. A rare and important patented clock by the New Jersey clock maker Aaron Crane, featuring a torsion pendulum and running one year between windings, with a four-columns case, an etched glass pendulum glass door and white dial, garnered $6,545.

• A pillar-and-scroll pendulum clock with a label identifying the maker as the renowned clock maker Seth Thomas (who bought the rights to Eli Terry’s patent in 1818) went to a determined bidder for $5,474. The handsome timepiece featured the “off-center” wood geared clockworks and a second hand. It stood 29 inches tall by 16 ½ inches wide, with brass urn finials.

• Two large, Swiss-made “pinwheel” clocks came under the gavel. The first was a wall-mounted cased pinwheel timepiece, probably made by the New Haven Clock Company (Conn.) around 1875. It breezed to $2,380. The other was a fine, dark mahogany (or rosewood) cased standing regulator. The 86-inch-tall, weight-driven timepiece with glazed door rose to $3,570.

Five Andrew Wyeth collotype prints, all signed, brought between $655 and $1,012 each.

• Finally, five Andrew Wyeth collotype prints, all signed by the artist, brought between $655 and $1,012 each.

For more information about this auction, call 610.722.9004, e-mail to Gordon@ConverseClocks.com or visit the Gordon Converse & Co. website.

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