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Tips on Buying Antique Clocks - Part 3

Do you know the history of this clock? (Who owned it, how the seller came to possess it, etc.)

Do you have any written documentation pertaining to its history? (Particularly important if stated to have been owned by a well known historical, political or entertainment figure.)

Questions about mechanical condition and repairs:

Does this clock have any known mechanical problems?

Do you know of any work that has been done on this clock? 

Who did the work (if seller didn't)?

(If the work was done by someone other than the person selling the  clock): How can I contact the person  who did the work?

How much will it cost to have this clock  restored, overhauled, put in working  order, etc.?

Questions about the seller's policies:

What is your return policy, if any?

Do you guarantee this clock to be as you have stated? Will I receive a written guarantee?

Can I return the clock if it turns out to be different than what you've stated?

Can I take this clock on trial to see how I like it in my home?

Are there any extra charges related to the purchase (sales tax, shipping costs, insurance, etc.)

(If local): Will you deliver and set the clock up for me?

Questions about the clock's operation and care:

How do I wind the clock, set the (time, alarm, chime)? Will you write down the instructions for me?

Does this clock require any special care that you know of?

How do I clean the clock case if it gets dusty or dirty?

Considering the purchase of an antique clock? Some sellers take great pains to describe the clock as accurately as possible. If purchasing from a dealer online, or from an online auction, there may be detailed photos showing the clock movement and the case at different angles, as well as clearly written policies about shipping costs, guarantees, etc.

On the other hand, you'll find many sellers who provide only minimum information about the clock. This may be because the seller may genuinely not know much about the clock - or even clocks in general. It might also be due to the seller's desire not to reveal information which might cause the buyer to ask for a reduction in price or pass on the deal altogether.

Here are some questions you might want to ask the seller before you make your decision. The questions are not listed in order of importance since each buying situation is unique. Not all questions may apply to each purchase.

Questions about authenticity, age, originality and maker:

How old is this clock? Do you know the exact year it was made?

Is this clock model (if stated) pictured in any book or catalog?

Is the signature on the clock (if any) the maker's name? Is the maker listed in any clock books?

Is the label (if any) original?

Is the movement original to the case? Is the dial original?

Do you know of anything that is not original or that has been replaced?

Is anything missing? (decorative elements, trim, mechanical parts, etc.)

What is the clock case material? (May be solid wood, wood veneer, plastic, Bakelite, marble, Adamantine, bronze, brass, silver, silverplate, copper, iron, pot metal with other finish, etc.)

(In the case of bronze, brass, silver or other metal decorative elements): What metal is this? Is it solid (bronze, brass, etc.) or is it plated? How can you tell?

Checklist of questions to ask when buying an antique clock


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