Time Well Spent


to bring back to youthful strength, appearance, etc., to make more vigorous, dynamic, and effective.

Time Well Spent

Woody Allen filmed a movie in our hometown of Newport, RI this past summer. Star gazing was a popular pastime among residents and tourists alike. On the day of our real estate closing, the cast and crew were setting up a scene beside our attorney’s office.  Those assembled around the conference table divided their attention between completing paperwork and trying to catch a glimpse of the legendary filmmaker and co-stars Emma Stone and Joaquin Phoenix.  As I peered through the window, I wondered, could this brush with fame be a good omen?

Emma Stone Films The "Untitled Woody Allen" Movie

Throughout the excitement, our star struck group managed to sign documents, exchange handshakes, and transfer house keys. We soon left Hollywood behind and dashed up the street to see our new home.  When we pushed the front door of the 1811 Federal home open, we were overcome by an eerie silence.  For the first time in more than two centuries, the entire home was devoid of furnishings, possessions, and the familiar cadence of families’ everyday comings and goings.

2nd floor bedroom

The emptiness and stillness allowed us to focus on those relics that endured the test of time. Six fireplace mantels, chair rails, crown moldings, newel posts, stair brackets and wide planked floors worked in tandem to assure us that this rejuvenation project was indeed worthwhile. When we reached the third floor, we happened upon a closet that contained an old bureau.  We pulled a drawer open and to our amazement discovered an antique cottage clock. The house seemed to be giving us a gift.  As we closely examined the charming timepiece, we suddenly realized that this was the sign we were hoping for.  As the saying goes…..coincidences mean you are on the right path.  And coincidentally, I have been collecting clocks for almost 20 years.

cottage clock

1860s Cottage Clock found in a bureau of the 1811 Federal home.

The Art of Collecting

For me and for many collectors, antique clocks are like potato chips; you can never have just one. The passion for collecting clocks usually begins so innocently. We come across an old clock in an antiques shop and think to ourselves, “Wouldn’t that look nice on my mantel.”  Unaware of what is about to happen, we bring the clock home, polish the rosewood case, admire the reverse painting on the glass tablet, attach the brass pendulum, adjust the delicate clock hands, insert an adorable key, and wind.  Then, as we listen to the scratching of the gears, the hypnotic tick tock of the pendulum and the melodic strike of the hour, a funny thing happens.  We recognize that we did not buy a simple timepiece, we purchased a treasure, an object of art.  And just like those potato chips, we crave another.  Before you know it, we are combing antique venues and the Internet hoping to find our next clock.


1850s Ogee Clock purchased from a collector in Rhode Island.

Although clocks, or instruments used to mark time have been around for centuries, it was not until the early 19th century that clock making became an industry in the United States. Case clocks, mantel clocks, shelf clocks and wall clocks were produced in a variety of styles, sizes and price ranges.  Many families during the Federal period owned at least one clock that was proudly displayed in the most prominent area of the house such as a foyer or formal parlor.  During that time, a clock was considered a  prized possession.  One family member, usually the father, was designated the keeper of the clock and was responsible for winding the timepiece whose design artfully combined craftsmanship with technology.

When we finish rejuvenating our home, each of the six fireplace mantels will be graced with an antique clock ranging from an Ogee wall clock, to a walnut gingerbread clock to a Mission Style shelf clock.

ginger bread

1880s Gingerbread Clock purchased from a collector in Rhode Island.

mission clock

1907 Mission Style Clock purchased at an antiques shop in New Hampshire.

Today, most people mark time on their smart phones. Simply tap the glass screen and the time of day suddenly appears. And If you need an alarm clock, simply tap the glass screen a few more times and by dawn a catchy mambo tune will interrupt your sleep.  Rarely do we ever think of buying an old clock. However, an antique clock will lend romance and a hint of yesteryear to your home.  Also, an antique clock is destined to become your very own family heirloom that you can pass down to the next generation.

So the next time you wander through an antiques shop, flea market or estate sale, look for clocks. Don’t worry if the clock is not in perfect working condition.  Sometimes a stopped clock will tempt us to slow down for just a moment or two and truly appreciate time well spent.

To read more about antique clocks visit: http://thedailybasics.com/2015/01/time-well-spent-an-addiction-for-antique-clocks/

Coming Next…Brave New Plans

Additio interiors

Sketch by John Grosvenor

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