Choice clocks, antiques drive Fontaine’s auction over $1M

The top lot was this E. Howard & Co. No. 57 wall regulator clock, which sold for a record $145,200. Fontaine’s Auction Gallery image

PITTSFIELD, Mass. – It’s little surprise that of the top five selling lots at Fontaine’s Auction Gallery’s May 19 auction, three of them were clocks, by E. Howard & Co., Seth Thomas and R.J. Horner. Fontaine’s sells antiques in most collecting categories but has carved out a niche with choice clocks, especially E. Howard models, setting a few auction records along the way. In this sale, which totaled over $1 million, the leader of the pack was an E. Howard No. 57 regulator clock that set a new world record auction price at $145,200. Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.

Bidding was fierce on this lot with competition from several phones as well as Internet and in-house buyers for the signed clock (above), which stood over 5 feet tall and had its original 14-inch silvered dial with black incised Roman hour numerals and blued/pierced diamond hands. It had been in the same family since 1885 and was originally presented to “Joseph S. Waterman in December of 1890 by his friends.” Waterman hung the 73-inch-tall clock in his Roxbury, Mass., business, and he was the great-great-grandfather of the consignor.

Five bidders chased the clock until the $80,000 mark, at which time the competition came down to two players—a phone bidder and an in-house bidder in the back of the room bidding for an out-of-state client. Bidding was fast and furious until the room bidder prevailed with a final hammer price of $120,000.

“The Joseph Waterman regulator by E. Howard & Co. was an absolutely beautiful clock and had it all—great craftsmanship by one of the finest clockmakers to solid provenance being in the same family all this time,” said John Fontaine, owner of Fontaine’s Auction Gallery. “We had a lot of presale interest so we knew it would perform well, but we were very pleased with just how well it did, setting a new world record price at auction. Overall, the sale went well above our expectations, with new clients participating at every level.”

The 300-lot sale featured several other fine clocks that performed well. Earning $51,425 was the R.J Horner and Elliott mahogany nine-tube grandfather clock having a 12-inch silvered dial signed “Elliott, London, England” with gilt brass applied hour numbers, fine filigree carving and standing figures of winged griffins and Chronos, 106 inches tall.

This R.J. Horner and Elliott mahogany nine-tube grandfather clock fetched $51,425. Fontaine’s Auction Gallery image

The auction also boasted a Seth Thomas No. 20 standing regulator with a rare grande sonnerie strike and repeat movement.

“In 45 years of selling clocks at auction, this is the only Seth Thomas floor clock that we have sold to have a weight-driven grande sonnerie strike and repeater movement, both striking the quarter hour and hour every 15 minutes,” Fontaine said. “This clock is exceptional in all respects and from our research is the rarest of all Seth Thomas clocks ever to come to market.” Buyers clearly agreed and pushed the clock to $42,350.

This Seth Thomas No. 20 standing regulator with a rare grande sonnerie strike and repeat movement made $42,350. Fontaine’s Auction Gallery image

The 98-inch-tall clock retained its original brass dial, signed Seth Thomas, with a 14-inch silvered chapter ring having black incised Roman hour numerals, fancy pierced gilt brass filigree center and spandrels, and the original blued and pierced decorated Seth Thomas hands with “S” minute hand and “T” hour hand.  The back of the dial is inscribed in pencil, “This clock from family of M.S. Blake of Norwell, Ma.”

Another Seth Thomas standout was a No. 8 office double dial calendar clock, going out at $39,325, with its original 14-inch painted metal dial having black Roman hour numerals, black spade hands and sub seconds dial; and an eight-day brass weight-driven time-only movement signed with the Seth Thomas trademark. The 67-inch-tall clock is housed in a large walnut case with the lower glass reading, “Pease & Steffens, Jewelers.”

Fontaine’s auctions feature quality antiques across the board, including jewelry, which dazzled brightly in this sale, led by a 14K gold ring with three diamonds totaling over 9 carats that fetched $63,525 and a Graff platinum ring with 13 round brilliant cut diamonds extending all around the band for a total carat weight of 6.52 carats that brought $27,225.

A sparkling item across the block was a 14K gold ring with three prong-set diamonds totaling over nine carats, which earned $63,525. Fontaine’s Auction Gallery image

Tiffany Studios leaded glass windows are highly desirable to collectors. Louis Comfort Tiffany was renowned for his ability to use glass to build up layers of color to create intricate depth and color versatility. This sale featured one of their landscape windows having a reverse enamel decorated panel showing a single acid-etched star in the sunset sky with purple mountains and sunset reflected in the lake. The lower portion of the window depicts colorful trees in tones of purple, blue and green with green glass and bold iris flowers in the lower right. A blue cameo over yellow lower banner reads “Sunset and Evening Star.” Measuring 55 by 35¼ inches with the frame, the window brought $57,475.

Earning $57,475 was this Tiffany Studios landscape window showing a single acid-etched star in the sunset sky with purple mountains and a lake reflection. Fontaine’s Auction Gallery image

A coin-operated animated Swiss Station music box in a two-part rosewood and stripe inlaid case, and a House of Representatives desk and chair, designed for the new chamber of the United States House of Representatives, circa 1857, by the architect of the Capitol, Thomas U. Walter, each brought $21,175.

This coin-op animated Swiss station music box fetched $21,175. Fontaine’s Auction Gallery image

Rounding out the auction were a J. & J.W. Meeks laminated rosewood marble-top center table with a serpentine pierced carved apron that realized $24,200 and a World War II-era Wurlitzer Model 950 jukebox designed by Paul Fuller, which earned $20,570.

For details contact Fontaine’s Auction Gallery at 413-448-8922 or info@fontainesauction.com.