I have always loved old clocks, especially cuckoo clocks and American calendar clocks. My Italian grandfather was a clockmaker. It was this passion that started me collecting these and other antique clocks. I currently own 86 antique clocks. My passion for these clocks became a hobby for repairing them. As the hobby grew, so did the diversity of clocks that I learned to repair. Reading book upon book, I expanded my knowledge even more. I believe you can never know enough about something, especially if it is something you enjoy doing and are passionate about.
When I hold an old clock in my hands, I imagine how many different lives were affected by its timekeeping over the years. I think of the history that has transpired during the course of the clock’s life and what the clock’s owners’ lives must have been like, as they lived through the events of so long ago.
The approach I take when repairing or restoring old clocks, is founded upon a notion of responsibility—a responsibility to preserve the past, to provide enjoyment in the present and to ensure that the clock will continue to faithfully measure the passage of time in the future.
The reason that I take this space to discuss the repair and restoration of clocks is to try to educate the owners of fine clocks as to the damage and loss of value that is done by careless and incompetent so-called “experts” who set up shop with little or no training and who literally charge customers for the privilege of practicing on their clocks!
The fact that qualified craftsmen are very hard to find becomes very obvious when one sets out to select one. There are no standards or licensing arrangements set up to protect the public as there are for other trades and professions. Beware of people who list letters after their name indicating membership in collectors’ organisations. Such associations are open to anyone who pays the membership fee, and who has an interest in clock collecting. However, membership confers no qualifications whatever and the implication that it does is very misleading.
The simple truth of the matter is that anyone can hang out a shingle and declare himself or herself a clockmaker or repairer. I know, because I see the results when the owner finally realises that he or she made a costly mistake, usually because they thought they could get the job done “cheap”! Unfortunately, by then it’s often too late to rehabilitate the clock without extensive repairs and sometimes replacement of wheels and pinions and other parts, all of which devalue the antique value of the clock. This is not how it should be done:
Why not do it right to begin with? It’s kinder to the clock, and easier on your wallet!
These are some of the clocks from my collection, click on any picture to see my complete clock collection: