Waltham 1900 girandole clock tops timpiece and Asian art auction

A rare and important Waltham girandole 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 December 28 for which the results have just been released.

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 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 auctioneer Gordon Converse, based in Strafford, Pa.

"This Waltham clock came to us with an impeccable provenance, but it was the serial No. 1 that sparked a bidding frenzy. That only made collectors want it more."

Waltham girandole ornate banjo clock serial No 1
The Waltham girandole ('ornate banjo') clock, serial No 1

The crowd in attendance was reasonable but internet bidding was more potent with over 600 registered online bidders. Phone and absentee bidding was also brisk.

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."

Some of the other highlights included:

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 peeled orange, or clementine, in polychrome, 1 1/2 inches tall, hit $5,950.

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 for $5,474. The handsome timepiece featured the "off-centre" wood geared clockworks and a second hand. It stood 29 inches tall by 16 1/2 inches wide, with brass urn finials.

Collectors seeking a fine timepiece at a more affordable price should take a look at this Longines men's Olympic series wrist watch

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