Friday, August 6, 2021

Society's Values Reflected In Price Of Grandfather Clocks

Soon To Be In The Garage
This is not an article written to astound the world, it is merely a reflection of fact and modern life in America. How society treats the fruits of its labor speaks volumes about what it considers important. Years ago I purchased a beautiful grandfather clock. At the time these expensive timepieces were being touted as an investment. Today, these large clocks have become inconstant with our modern lifestyles. 

Grandfather clocks are very difficult to move and can be hard to maintain. This has created a situation where as these clocks continue to get displaced from their original homes and are handed off to new owners they soon become a burden. This reality has moved front and center and is apparent when it comes to their resale value. 

These once sought-over status symbols of conspicuous consumption are becoming albatross relics to many of their owners. Not only do many people have no place to put such clocks, but each time they must be moved they become a nightmare. This has created a glut in the market where far more people are selling these clocks than buying.

With people moving more frequently, the fact they simply are incapable of properly moving them or can't afford to has become an issue. Yes, these clocks are beautiful but if damaged in the slightest they often become worth more to repair than they are worth. Not only are the components expensive, many of the companies making them have long since closed which can make getting them serviced a challenge.

These factors have reduced the current value of these clocks to next to nothing which can make selling them a task that can take weeks or months. A large part of the problem is that most people realize that even for one to three hundred dollars it is not wise to buy something that has the potential to bring you more grief than joy. This results in sellers starting with sale prices such as $900 or $2,200 then after a bit of research rapidly dropping the price into the range of $150 to $400 adding a line about, or best offer.

Many of these clocks are truly majestic and should be viewed as works of art rather than large watches, today clocks are everywhere, and getting the correct time is generally not a problem. For many people, this has made even the most beautiful of these clocks unnecessary and obsolete. The appalling lack of respect coupled with a total inability to care for or treat these carefully crafted timepieces is often displayed by those that inherit them. 

With people fleeing states such as Illinois, a glut of sellers has made buying one of these clocks a bargain. Sadly, on the flip side, this many are being miserably treated and devalued. Weights that should not be touched by bare hands are shabbily handled and tossed uncovered into cardboard boxes. People even tape cabinets closed after misplacing the key. It is not uncommon to find many of these clocks horribly misrepresented by owners that post and use pictures taken before dumping a once beautiful clock into the garage. 

The writing of this post was inspired and in reaction to my going to see a few of these clocks that were being sold. I have little tolerance for stupidity or laziness. Out of the five I viewed, all being sold privately, one was treated well, one not too bad, the next a little worse. Two were abused and had been asked to endure conditions beyond anything a responsible person could imagine. 

Seriously, In A Child's Room?
One of the most abused was located in a filthy basement occupied by a couple and their six children. The man had used old pictures of the clock when it had still been located in his Grandfathers living room. After traveling a long way, the last clock I viewed, that was listed as being in good condition was found to be wanting. The owner failed to mention all the damage the once beautiful piece had suffered. The beveled glass covering the face was gone and so was the lock, the door was wired closed and one of the side covers was in pieces, also, the cabinet showed it had been hit in several places. Believe it or not, and pictures are said not to lie, thousands of these once treasured gems now sit in garages next to a lawnmower.

To be clear, these clocks vary greatly in value. This is something many people fail to take into consideration. Many are off-brands or "want to be" imitations produced for the less affluent market. Some even use battery-powered timepieces or clocks. The pictures used in this piece do not represent the most beautiful of these clocks and if you do decide to purchase one a bit of research would be in order. For a hands-on person, this is an opportunity to buy and own something very beautiful for a fraction of what it should, or would normally cost. This is defiantly a case where a patient and wise buyer has the upper hand.

When you own things, if you want them to retain their value, you must take care of them. This is one reason why socialism doesn't work. In some ways, this article could be considered a commentary on modern society and our continual never-ending quest for more while at the same time we forget to value what we already have. For the many people that in the past have said, "I would love to have a clock like that." This adds credence to the saying be careful what you wish for.

(Republishing of this article welcomed with reference to Bruce Wilds/AdvancingTime Blog)

1 comment:

  1. I would like to add, over the last few years, some rather impressive looking fake, or battery-operated, Grandfather clocks have made their way into America. This has also taken its toll on the value of older clocks.