Antique grandfather clocks helped usher in the new year

Farm Forum

Today we may watch the year change on a television screen, but in years past the celebration was timed by a chiming grandfather clock. Even earlier, New Year’s were timed by a clock in the church steeple or the city hall tower. Before that, time was judged by daylight and darkness, and summer and winter climates. Today the cell phone is always handy to let you know exactly what time it is. The grandfather clock was originally known as a tall case, longcase or floor clock. The 6- to 8-foot-tall clock has a weight-driven pendulum. It was invented in 1670 or so. In the early 20th century, it was the most accurate timepiece available. There are two types: the expensive eight-day clock that has to be wound once a week, and the less-expensive 30-hour clock that has to be wound once a day. An unusually large 1880 carved mahogany clock, 107 inches high and made by J.J. Elliott of London, sold in September 2014 at Neal Auction Co. in New Orleans. The clock has elaborate carving, fretwork, rosewood panels with inlay, chimes, and a brass-and-silvered dial. It brought $13,743. To tell the accurate time for New Year’s Eve, it must be placed in a room with a high ceiling (over 9 feet) and leveled.

Q My four-piece bedroom suite includes a headboard, dresser, chest of drawers and nightstand. Each piece is marked with a triangle, a large letter “K” and “Korn Industries, Incorporated, Sumter Cabinet Company.” It’s solid oak and in excellent condition. What price could I ask for this set?

A Sumter Cabinet Co. was a division of Korn Industries. Chester Korn started a timber company and sawmill in Cincinnati in 1889 to make buggy parts and other wood products. The company moved to Sumter, S.C., in 1921. Bedroom furniture was first made in the 1930s and dining room furniture in 1989. The company was sold in 2000 to Chromecraft Revington, which continued to use the Sumter brand name until late 2006. The price of used bedroom furniture depends on style, quality, condition and age. It probably can only be sold locally, because shipping is expensive. It should be priced as a bargain, about half the cost of a new set.

Q How much is a bottle of Dom Perignon vintage champagne worth? I have a 1995 bottle, 750 ml, in its original box.

A An unopened bottle of Dom Perignon vintage 1995 in its box is worth about $175 to $200. Empty, the bottle could sell for about $12 and the box for less than $10. Remember that in some states, you need a special license to sell bottled alcohol.

Q Every time I used to visit my aunt, she asked me to polish her fancy silver tea-and-coffee service. When she died, she left the set to me. It includes a teapot, coffeepot, creamer, sugar bowl and waste bowl. Each piece is elaborately decorated, and each lid is topped by a pheasant finial. My aunt said she bought the set, which she thought was sterling, from an antiques dealer. The hallmark on the bottom is a circle surrounding the words “Meriden B Company.” Also inside the circle is an image of a balance scale between two stars. Who is the maker, and what is the set worth?

A Meriden Britannia Co. was organized in 1852 in Meriden, Connecticut, by brothers Horace (1824-1890) and Dennis (1828-1886) Wilcox and several other partners. Although its first products were made of Britannia metal (pewter), the company was making silver-plated hollowware by 1855. Your silver-plated (not sterling) set probably dates from the 1860s or ‘70s. In excellent condition, it could sell for over $1,000.

Q I have a plastic clown bank in its original box. It must be at least 25 years old. The clown is 11 1/2 inches tall and is wearing a red-and-white polka-dot cloth shirt, yellow pants and orange shoes and hat. When you put a coin in his right hand and lift his left arm, the coin falls into his mouth. The box reads, “The more coins he eats, the bigger his belly gets.” It’s marked “J.S.N.Y.” How much is it worth?

A The initials stand for “Jeffrey Snyder New York,” a company that made and imported giftware, housewares and toys. It was founded in New York in 1975, but its products were made in several Asian countries. It was part of Etna Products Co., a New York firm founded in 1945. The clown bank shows up online for about $15 without the box and for $30 with the original box.

Q I have two souvenir paper needle books in fairly decent shape with all the needles still inside. One is from the 1939 New York World’s Fair and pictures the Trylon and Perisphere. The other needle book reads “Ambassador of Good Will” on one side and pictures flags from several countries. It says “Lone Eagle” on the other side and pictures a plane flying over the globe, a ship and a train. Are they worth anything?

A “The Lone Eagle” was a nickname for Charles Lindbergh, who flew a goodwill tour of Latin America in 1927 and 1928. Vintage needle books usually sell for $5 to $10. Needle cases that are Lindbergh souvenirs or mementos from a World’s Fair are collectible. Each one might sell for about $15.

Tip: Clocks should be cleaned and lubricated every five years.

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