Antiques, Clocks Drive Fontaine's Auction Over $1 Million

PITTSFIELD, MASS. — It’s little surprise that of the top 5 selling lots at Fontaine’s Auction Gallery’s May 19 auction, three of them were clocks, by E. Howard & Company, Seth Thomas and R.J. Horner.
Fontaine’s sells antiques in most collecting categories (antiques, clocks) 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 a million dollars, the leader of the pack was an E. Howard No. 57 regular clock that set a new world record auction price at $145,200.

Bidding was fierce on this lot with competition from several phones as well as Internet and in-house buyers for the signed clock that 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 & Company 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 antiques, clocks sale featured several other fine clocks that performed well. Earning $51,425 was the R.J Horner and Elliott mahogany 9-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.
Also renowned for its clocks was Seth Thomas. This auction boasted a Seth Thomas No. 20 standing regulator with a very 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.

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 Seth Thomas 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 8 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.”
While clocks are a notable draw here, 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 nine 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.

Tiffany Studios leaded glass windows are highly desirable to collectors. 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 35 ¼ inches with frame, the window brought $57,475.
A coin-operated animated Swiss Station music box in a 2-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.
Rounding out the auction were a J & JW Meeks laminated rosewood marble top center table with a serpentine pierced carved apron which realized $24,200 and a Wurlitzer Model 950 Jukebox – 1942, designed by Paul Fuller, which earned $20,570.

Fontaine’s Auction Gallery is the oldest operating auction gallery in Western Massachusetts. It has earned the trust of collectors, investors and gallery owners worldwide. All cataloged lots receive nationwide exposure to the firm’s database of more than 20,000 select buyers. Fontaine’s Auction Gallery has been voted “Best Antique Auction Gallery” eight times
by the public.

Fontaine’s Auction Gallery is actively seeking quality items, to include furniture, lighting, clocks and watches, paintings, porcelains, bronze and marble statuary, Asian items, art glass and cameo glass, Russian objects, silver, musical, coin-op, advertising, toys, banks, gaming and carousel items for future sales. Consignments are currently being accepted for all the
upcoming auctions.

The firm will buy outright or accept on consignment fine antiques, collections or entire estates. Call (413) 448-8922 and ask to speak with John Fontaine, or you can send Mr. Fontaine
an e-mail to [email protected]. For more information about the company and the upcoming auction schedule, visit Updates are posted frequently.
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium.

Fontaine’s Auction Gallery is at 1485 West Housatonic Street. For more information, or 413-448- 8922