Antique clocks are a favorite with interior decorators because of their classic style -- and their value is on the rise.
But sometimes people just give them away because they don't realize they've got a treasure worth keeping.
"Just because a clock doesn't work doesn't mean it's something to throw away," says Francesca de la Flor, who runs one of California's largest antique collectives. "It's still a beautiful decorative piece. And most of the time you can get the clock repaired and get it to work, if that's important to you."
Antique clocks are easy to find at flea markets. But their mechanical works – also known as movements – can be sensitive, so you're likely to find many clocks that no longer tell time.
The three factors that determine a clock's price are age, rarity and condition. But buyer beware: Sometimes, people unwittingly destroy a clock's value in order to make it run.
"The sad thing that happens to these clocks is that sometimes people are so determined to make them work that they take out the original works. They don't bother to have them repaired and they replace them," says Francesca.
She says that a modern battery-operated mechanism can reduce an antique clock's value by as much as ninety percent.
Here's another tip: An original manufacturer's label can reveal clues to a clock's age. For example, a clock made by Seth Thomas includes the word "Thomaston" if it was made after 1865. If the label says "Plymouth Hollow," it would be older and possibly worth more.
But the most important tip is if you have an old clock, keep it in original condition. It's value will only increase over time!
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