Discover Vintage America - JULY 2015
Heirloom clock an example from the Gilbert Clock Co.
Q: This wonderful antique clock was given to me by my sister-in-law. It had once belonged to her grandparents who lived in Lebanon, KS. The glass on the door is etched with a spider in a web, cattails and other flourish designs that come up to the bottom of the face of the clock. The pendulum has a barometer on it and the top of the pendulum has gold tone clusters of leaves. It is a five-day clock and keeps beautiful time and softly chimes on the hour and half hour.
The pendulum is engraved with "W L Gilbert." The wood case has designs carved in to it and has a black stain on it. I can see a few holes on the top, which probably once held decorative spindles of some type.
Can you please give me some information on this clock?
A: This is a lovely mantle clock made by the William L. Gilbert Clock Company of Connecticut in the late 1800s. William Gilbert was considered one of the foremost clockmakers of the 19th century in America.
His first company was formed in 1828 in partnership with his brother-in-law. A decade later he was in business with Chauncey Noble a well-known clockmaker who led the way in designing clocks with inner workings made of brass instead of the much used wood workings. These new brass movements were the heart of Gilbert's clocks and the beautiful cases the soul.
In July 1871 the William L. Gilbert Clock Co. was formed, after a previous factory burned to the ground. Gilbert made his clocks so that they were affordable for everyone but still well made. He mimicked the styles of several higher end clockmakers by placing steeples or ornate finials on the top of his mantle clock; this is more than likely what went in the holes at the top of your clock.
As with most of the clockmakers of the time, managers came and went, and this brought about name changes along the way. Then the inevitable happens and it was bought out by a larger company with the doors closing forever in the late 1950s-early 1960s.
The beautiful etched glass on the front really sets your clock apart. I only wish that it still had the finials on the top but this will give you something to keep an eye out for at flea markets and sales.
Despite the beauty Gilbert clocks were made for the everyday person and the resale value is $75-$100.
Note: All prices given are for sale in a private sale, antique shop or other resale outlet. Price is also dependent upon the geographic area in which you are selling. Auction value, selling to a dealer or pawnshop prices are about half or less of resale value.
Michelle Staley is a Lenexa, KS-based dealer and researcher with 35 years of experience in the antique trade. Send questions with photos to Michelle to email@example.com. Please keep queries to one question; questions without photos of the item may not be answered. Michelle is also available for consulting and extensive research work beyond this column. If you would like an appraisal on an antique or collectible please go to www.michelleknowsantiques.com for a one-on-one appraisal.