Recently I have had more and more requests on how to do a self-appraisal of a grandfather clock. To remove some of the mystique, I have included in this article some of the questions that an appraiser will cover. This will not provide you an accurate price but should help with a ball park figure.
What is the general condition of the grandfather clock?
One of the reasons for using an appraiser is they are paid to be unbiased, honest and fair. This is not saying you can?t be, but it is sometimes hard to part with an old friend and there is likely to be sentiment attached. If you cannot be detached and look at it like a potential buyer then you must get an independent appraisal. Having said that, let?s start by looking at the overall condition of the grandfather clock in question.
Each of the following checks will be a zero through five with five being perfect ? just like it came from the grandfather clock factory. But be honest; remember you are thinking like the buyer. But don?t be over-critical either and downgrade a great clock. Just be fair and honest. It is best to go with the first thought you have in mind and don?t dwell on a question. So with that in mind let?s get started. On a blank piece of notebook paper on the left hand side write the numbers 1 ? 20 or you can download for a more detailed pdf at the link below.
Grandfather clock evaluation questions.
1. Is the clock running? (5 ? yes otherwise 0)
2. Is the grandfather clock keeping accurate time?
3. Do the bells or chimes function correctly?
4. Does the clock have moon phase dial that is work and looks nice?
5. Rate the look of the weights (bright and clean) from zero to five.
6. Does the clock face look good and well cared for?
7. Rate the appearance of the pendulum, (does it look bright and clean?) from zero to five.
8. Rate the pendulum swing (is it smooth or bumpy) from zero to five.
9. Does the grandfather clock have all its hands (5 ? yes otherwise 0)?
10. If the correct hands are installed for the second, minute and hour hand, five, else a zero.
11. Has the grandfather clock been rebuilt every 10 years? (0-no to five if rebuilt in the last year)
12. Has the grandfather clock been oiled every year you have owned it (0-never, 1-once, 2-twice, 3-every other year, 4-every year, 5-every six months)
13. Is all the glass present and undamaged (discoloration and bubbles are ok)?
14. Is the glass the proper age for the clock (give yourself a one otherwise a zero)?
15. If all accessories and required parts are present, give yourself a five. Starting with a 5, subtract one for every part missing, with a lowest possible score of zero.
16. Looking at the grandfather clock case. How would you rate it? (5=perfect, 0=bad)
17. Is there damage to the case (many dents=0, some bad dents=1, some dents=3, minor dings, none=5)?
18. Do all the sliding doors (glass/wood) and hinged doors work properly?
19. Does the cabinet have the original finish and is it in good condition?
20. Is there a color change from one side to the other of the cabinet (0=major color change and 5=for little or none)?
The Grand Total Is?
Now add up all the numbers you recorded and get a total. If the total is near 100 you are saying you have a near pristine grandfather clock. If you have a total of twenty or less I would have to assume the grandfather clock is broken in pieces and in a box ? otherwise you are grading it way to low. A normal value of a running grandfather clock with modest wear and tear would be somewhere around eighty, even a clock that is running with cabinet damage would still are around sixty of better. A clock that is over 100 years old will most likely have some damage (this sometimes adds character) such as dings and may have been repaired more than once.
Now that we have classified the condition of the grandfather clock you will want to find out what the selling price should be, right? This is where you will need to have as much data as possible about the grandfather clock in question. Manufacturer (shop), date built, repairs, and any historical documentation would be great. When I say historical documentation I mean, who originally bought it, where did they buy it, was it shipped from overseas, who were all the owners (names and dates are great) and anything you can dig up about the grandfather clock and its particular history.
What did the grandfather clock last sell for?
With all this information at hand, buy a three day subscription at Antique Clock Price Guide (dot) com where you can look up your grandfather clock. This site has a list of the selling prices of most grandfather clocks, the value (most often based on an appraiser) and the place it was last sold. Now look up your clock and find the selling price and note the condition; pristine, excellent, good, fair, etc. Now looking at your evaluation, you can increase the selling price if your clock is in better condition than the last one sold. You can also decrease the price if the one sold was of a greater value.
Given you are not a full time appraiser I would suggest you reduce the price by 10% percent unless of course the grandfather clock has a very colorful history, is perfect or rather rare and then I would increase the price by 20-30% percent over what you have seen.
Some final thoughts.
To be fair though, one of the major areas of concern is how well the grandfather clock was maintained. Is the clock movement in a well-maintained state or is it in need of major repairs? The answer to this question and the overall look of the grandfather clock will set the value in the buyer?s mind. If they do have to do repairs this only drops the price, but not the (after-repair) value of the clock. Refinishing the cabinet, changing the clock movement for a more expensive unit, adding adornments that were not on the original clock, unnecessarily replacing clock faces or hands will all decrease the value of the clock. So only fix or repair what is needed and never try to improve the value of the clock.
Some resources to help you:
A more detailed Evaluation guide in PDF format can be found on my website named Eval.pdf.
For last sold price check out: AntiqueClockPriceGuide.com