Clock Collection, Advertising & Country Store

Clock Collection, Advertising & Country Store Items To Drive Fontaine's Auction Aug. 25

PITTSFIELD, MASS. — It all started with the purchase of a roll-top desk and a clock to go with the desk. One clock became two, two became three and over the past 45 years, a clock collection was born.

A grouping of over 50 clocks from the Jerry Maltz collection of advertising clocks is going on the block during Fontaine’s Auction Gallery’s antiques, clocks and advertising auction on Saturday, Aug. 25, at 11 am, preceded by a discovery session of 100 uncatalogued lots at 10 am.
The main auction comprises 275 lots of antiques & accessories, including the Jerry Maltz collection along with over 100 other fine clocks, a large selection of advertising signs, country store items, toys and related items.

“This is going to be a really interesting auction. Jerry Maltz had a real passion for advertising clocks and was able to source some really rare examples and because these clocks were made of wood & papier-mache, it’s amazing that they are still in such great condition,” said John Fontaine, owner of Fontaine’s Auction Gallery. “We’re honored to be offering clocks from his collection in this sale.”

Jerry Maltz of New Rochelle, N.Y., described how he and his wife bought the desk in a  New York City antiques shop and spied an Ansonia clock on the way out and bought it on a whim. “I didn’t know anything about the clock. It looked good next to the roll-top desk, so we bought it and brought it home.” He soon bought another clock. “Now I had two clocks and in my house, that’s a clock collection. The two grew and grew and that was 45 years ago.”

Maltz soon took to wheeling and dealing, selling some clocks to acquire better clocks and estimates he has bought around 2,000 clocks over the years. He became quite an educated buyer and joined the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, where many friendships were made among those who shared his pursuit. He came to specialize in Baird advertising clocks and wrote a book, Baird Advertising Clocks, in 1998.

“I started to collect advertising clocks years ago when nobody wanted them,” he said, noting friends would give him tips on clocks they had seen in shops or at flea markets. “I started to acquire a nice collection but the most important thing is the people I have met, just wonderful collectors. It doesn’t matter what you do — a fireman, plumber or truck driver. When we get together, all we do is talk about clocks.”

Asked if he had a favorite, Maltz compares the question to a parent being asked which is the favorite child. “I have all these clocks. I love them all, they are all my children,” he said. “Almost every clock has a story and they are usually good ones.”

Baird advertising clocks were only made for about ten years, first in Montreal then in Plattsburgh, N.Y., Maltz said, the doors were papier-mache or papier-mache over wood.
The advertising was either pressed into the bezel of the papier mache upper door and into the lower door or the papier mache was laid in to the 4 panel wooden door and then pressed.
“They advertised everything — drugs, dog food, tobacco, paint, just about anything you wanted to advertise.” Clocks would boast “Yarbrough’s Mild Burley Tobacco – Does Not Make You Nervous, It Is Time To Take A Chew” or “Beecham’s Pills, Worth A Guinea A Box – Enormous Sale, Gigantic Total, Eleven Pills Every Second.”

“The hunt for a collector is as important as the acquisition. One of the biggest thrills is finding a clock that I never knew existed and occasionally it still happens, they come out of the woodwork somehow,” he said. “You never lose the desire.”A featured clock in the auction, and first across the block, is a Baird Coca-Cola advertising clock, circa 1889, with its original 12-inch paper dial featuring a Seth Thomas movement ($25/40,000). The advertising reads “Coca-Cola, The Ideal Brain Tonic – Delightful Summer and Winter Beverage, Specific for Headache.”Baird clocks advertised a host of products and companies but an unusual example in the auction is one it made to advertise itself. Estimated at $10/15,000, the clock with the original 12-inch paper dial signed “Seth Thomas Movement” has a clock having black Roman hour numerals as well as a 31-date calendar, making it quite rare. It reads “Advertising Clocks For Clothiers, Etc. – Baird Clock Co., Write For Price Lists, Plattsburgh, NY.” Other standout Baird clocks in the auction include a clock for Sapolio soap with its original box, a clock for the Philadelphia Times newspaper, a miniature clock with a 10-inch dial for the Okonite Company Ltd., Insulated Wires in London and a 30-day double-sided bracket hanging clock advertising “E. Seinberg Stieffel & Co., Buffos Cigar, 5 cents For Sale Here, The Sam Woodside Co., Distributors.” Baird was not the only company making advertising clocks. Two Sidney advertising wall clocks are represented in the auction, one for “Winton Popular Jeweler” ($15/20,000) and one reading “Brant’s Time” on the dial and advertising the Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, N.Y., ($8/12,000). In addition to clocks, fine advertising will be offered, including a group of four Ithaca Sign Works clothier signs hand painted on tin, a large Mobil Gas Pegasus cookie cutter sign in the form of a horse and a Nash Service double-sided porcelain sign. 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.
Fontaine’s Auction Gallery is at 1485 West Housatonic Street. For more information, or 413-448- 8922.