A Guide to Clocks

Tara Dickinson
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“The hours of folly are measured by the clock; but of wisdom, no clock can measure.” -William Blake

 Plus Creative Ideas For Decorating With Clocks

Time, and therefore clocks, can have deep significance and different meaning to different people. Some symbolism that comes to mind when thinking about clocks include a beginning and ending, a finite amount of time, an orderly universe. There seems to be an overall love/hate relationship with clocks; they either remind you of time marching ceaselessly on or they give you comfort in the organization and management of your life and goals.


When considering purchasing an antique clock or one of some value, it is wise to do your homework as the world of clocks is vast, detailed, and historic. Clock sellers range from your commercial big name retailers, to high-quality second-hand stores, to professional dealers and auction houses.



Dozens of Types

The world of clocks is quite simply staggering. According to a professional clock listing site, there are over 44 categories of clock types. Clock experts may call the same type of clock by different names according to geographical differences and trade customs. For example, what many refer to as a ‘grandfather’ clock can also be called a ‘tallcase’ or ‘longcase’ clock. For a full directory with images on antique clock types, An Illustrated Glossary is a wonderful resource.


Tips On Buying Antique Clocks

  • Condition- an unaltered, original, clock with its original finish, maker’s label or signature; well-preserved, and clean are points that all increase the value of a clock considerably. Depending on your collecting goals, you may want to pay less for something in fair condition or more for something in excellent condition.
  • Historical price- knowing what similar clocks have sold for in the past will aid in deciding what to spend.
  • Identifying marks- a clock with a label or signature tying the clock to a well-known manufacturer is worth paying more for than a similar clock without documentation. Get guarantees in writing.

Questions to review when buying a high-end antique clock:

  1. What year was it made?
  2. Is the signature on the clock the maker's name?
  3. Is there an original label?
  4. Are all the parts original?
  5. Has anything been replaced?
  6. Is anything missing? (decorative elements, trim, mechanical parts, etc.).
  7. What is the return policy?
  8. Is a written guarantee offered?
  9. Are there any extra charges (sales tax, shipping, insurance)?
  10. Will it be delivered and set up (if local)?
  11. How to wind the clock, set the time, alarm, or chime?
  12. Does this clock require any special care?
  13. How is the clock case cleaned if it gets dusty or dirty?

Decorating With Clocks

Clocks for the home are separated into different categories: wall, table, and grandfather, for instance. They are also sorted into different styles: vintage, retro, minimalist, handmade (DIY). Placement of a clock when decorating the home takes some thought. It does seem logical to NOT place a clock in the bedroom (other than a small bedside alarm clock if needed), or in the bathrooms, as both these locations are more for rest and relaxation. Clocks feel better situated for offices, kitchens, and living rooms. Looking at a variety of the most common clocks for the home is next.


Grandfather Clocks

Floor clocks, or grandfather clocks, have very distinct connotations of elegance, romance, of time long past. Because these types of clocks tend to be quite large, they are not as common as other varieties of clocks seen in most modern homes these days. But if you do wish to grace your home with a majestic grandfather clock, you have the delightful option of choosing the chimes that will resonate around the home or staying simply silent in its grandeur. For a comprehensive antique grandfather clock site, this link is extremely thorough: Antique Grandfather Clocks.


House Clocks

Clocks as decorating elements are used strategically in home design. Since clocks come in a rainbow of different colors, styles, textures, and sizes they maintain a high place on the accent list when designing interior (or exterior) decor. Similar to lighting and mirrors, clocks have achieved levels of high art thus giving them great value when used specifically as a main decorative focus feature.


Table Clocks

Smaller clocks for desks, shelfs, and mantels can add a sensation of grounding-like quality to a space, or a touch of desired color. Again, the styles available fit any personality or decor era you’re creating, so have fun and consider a table clock when dressing up your home.

Wall Clocks

Using an oversized wall clock is a unique way to cover a large blank wall. Going this route with your decor will absolutely create a showstopper look for any room. Another idea when decorating with wall clocks is to arrange a composition of several smaller ones in a pleasing layout, varying the sizes and color tones.



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