PAOLI, Pa. – The fine antique clock collection of Willis R. Michael (1894-1969), one of the founders of the NAWCC (National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors, Inc.), who also served as the group’s second president from 1949-1951, will headline Converse Auctions’ online-only May Antique Auction on Friday, May 19, beginning at noon Eastern time. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
Mr. Michael’s interest in clocks began in 1937, when he purchased his first grandfather clock in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. His collection grew to more than 400 clocks and 225 watches. Trained as a tool-and-die maker, he owned a successful specialized tool-and-die company. He was also a Freemason who held leadership positions within the Masons and helped develop the Dudley Masonic pocket watch.
The auction will also feature Modern designer and antique furniture and lighting, including an Eero Aarnio-style Ball chair and Company C rugs; African artifacts; Hopi kachina figures; Chinese porcelain, snuff bottles, bronzes and paintings; estate jewelry; fine art paintings and prints; sterling and crystal lots; coins; books on art and collecting; and decorative accessories.
But the clock collection is the auction’s undisputed headliner, led by Mr. Michael’s personally owned presentation 14K Dudley Masonic pocket watch with insignia and rope chain, engraved gold pocket knife and hinged fob with sphinx and horns with double eagle insignia on one side and the reverse opening to reveal an enamel circle with letters. It carries an estimate of $4,000-$6,000.
The 19-jewel pocket watch’s movement is decorated with Masonic symbols, including the iconic square and compass and all-seeing eye. The interior of the case is engraved with the phrase, “Presented to Willis Raymond Michael 33, July 11, 1944.” Also up for bid is another Dudley open face pocket watch with a sparkling rayed pattern dial with Arabic numerals and seconds dial, estimated at $2,000-$4,000.
A strong candidate for top lot of the auction is the Lemuel Curtis (1790-1857) girandole wall clock, named for its use of convex glass in the base section, which was patented by Curtis in 1816. This example is exceptional for its beautifully rendered image of Aurora in a reverse painting on glass, a very difficult technique known as eglomise. Its estimate is $20,000-$40,000.
Anyone who knows clocks knows the name Willard. A Federal mahogany tall case clock by Simon Willard (1753-1848), having a bonnet with fine fretwork detail, is estimated at $10,000-$20,000; and a Federal-era shelf clock by brother Aaron (1757-1844), with elaborate eglomise panels sporting a lyre motif and a bottom panel with a farming scene, has an estimate of $4,000-$6,000. Both clocks have eight-day weight-driven time and strike movement.
A Jacob Hostetter (1754-1831) tall case clock with a Chippendale or Hepplewhite transitional cherry case and a dial that reads “Jacob Hostetter No. 71” has an estimate of $8,000-$12,000. Hostetter was a pioneer clockmaker in York County, Pennsylvania. Also, a John Fisher (1736-1808) York Town tall case clock with carved rosettes, a Greek Key border and a hand-painted face bears an estimate of $5,000-$10,000. Interestingly, Willis R. Michael is a direct descendant of John Fisher’s.
Two marine-related lots have identical estimates of $2,000-$4,000. One is a John Bliss & Co. marine chronometer in a mahogany box, dated April 1905, with wind indicator, stem wind and a Roman numeral silvered metal dial. The other is a ship’s wheel crystal regulator mantel clock with a polished brass case having glass on all four sides. What makes the clock so rare is the detached balance wheel regulation in the form of an oscillating ship’s wheel rather than a pendulum.
An H. B. Horton’s calendar clock with a pendulum etched with the Ithaca Calendar Clock Co. logo has an estimate of $2,000-$4,000. Also, a circa-1840 double steeple fusee shelf clock powered by a wagon spring and having a zinc dial with Roman numerals and reverse-painted tablets on the upper and lower doors is estimated at $1,000-$2,000.
Rounding out the highlights are an Elisha Kirk (1757-1790) tall case clock with a hand-painted face that reads, “Elisha Kirk York Town No. 32,” with moon phase, seconds hand, calendar aperture, floral spandrels and hemisphere, estimated at $3,000-$5,000; and, in the furniture category, a Mid-century Modern white shell chair with a black upholstered interior, presumed to be an Eero Aarnio Ball chair, showing a few scuffs and estimated at $1,000-$1,500.
To consign a single item, an estate or a collection to Converse Auctions, call 610-722-9004; email info@ConverseAuctions.com; or schedule an appointment through www.converseauctions.com. For more information about Converse Auctions, please visit www.ConverseAuctions.com.
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