Our antiques expert assesses a kitchen shelf clock to help determine what it's worth today.
My mother, who’s 84, would love to know the age and value of her family clock, given to her father many years ago in payment for carpentry work. It’s 23 inches tall and has a small thermometer near the top. It operates by being wound with a key, and it is still functional.
—D.T., Ontonagon, Michigan
What’s It Worth?
A: Clocks were among the first mass-produced items in America. Sales exploded when catalogs were published in the 1850s, but of the 31 clock factories in operation in 1851, only 13 remained by 1856—because of company failures, fires and other problems. With the 1929 stock market crash, that number fell to three, all of which are now divisions of larger corporations.
Without opening your clock to examine its inner workings, it’s impossible to determine the manufacturer, since it’s been refinished and any legible paper labels have been removed. I can tell you it was sold as a kitchen shelf clock between 1900 and 1915. The top-centered thermometer and art deco Greek-key motif on the glass door indicate it was probably closer to 1915. Millions of these gingerbread-style clocks sold for $2.50 to $5.30. Today, your oak-case clock with veneer front, original pendulum and key is worth about $165.
—Barbara J. Eash (Country Woman Magazine’s Antiques Expert)