Appraising and Selling an Antique Clock

Is My Cuckoo Worth Something?

Cuckoo clocks are loved for how they harken back to earlier years. While the traditions of clock craftsmen continue today, older clocks, of roughly 1970 or earlier, can be truly valuable possessions. Depending on their age, condition and a number of other factors they can be worth a few hundred to several thousand dollars.

Cuckoos came into popularity in the mid-nineteenth century. Authentic European handmade clocks dating before 1930 are considered more valuable.

Demand plays an important role in determining the price. The hunter, or Jagdstück, style clock, with deer antlers, crossed guns, horn and game animals tends to have the most popular appeal, capturing the imagination of outdoors enthusiasts.

Uniqueness can also play a role in increasing the appeal of the clock. Cuckoos are particularly loved for their whimsical touches. Unlike other more formal clock designs, the cuckoo model is essentially folk art, and simple craftsmen have made their own valuable contributions to the art. A great example is this Antiques Roadshow find in Spokane, Washington which was valued at up to $2,000.

Of course, condition is a big issue with cuckoos. With their multitude of moving parts and decorative elements, there’s a lot that can break over time. While a clock may be a genuine antique, one will often find that the movement may have been replaced or parts have been refinished or repaired over the years, all of which can detract from the value to some degree.

As with any antique, its history is important. A family heirloom that can be traced back to its origin offers a wonderful physical link to the past and is really what makes antiques so appealing.

Getting an Accurate Appraisal

There are a lot of reasons to want to know the value of an antique, whether for insurance, valuing an estate, or a desire to sell.

Important characteristics include makers marks and labels and whether the clock is hand carved or mass produced. Researching can start with finding a maker’s label or stamp and comparing it with reference books or online databases, such as The Antique Clocks Price Guide.

Did you know? The four on an authentic cuckoo clock’s face is always “IIII” – never “IV”!

There are also online valuation services such as Value My Stuff, which offer a quick and easy opinion on an antique for a small fee. Upload a few photos with a description and history and they send you an informed opinion. If you’re just satisfying your curiosity, this may be all you need, but if you’re looking for an authoritative opinion, then a more hands-on examination is necessary.

A written statement from a qualified appraiser is the most authoritative option. For individuals looking to sell to a dealer, it’s an assurance that they’re getting a fair price.

In big cities, you can often find auction houses who will often hold free appraisal events. Sellers can also look out for antique fairs that sometimes offer appraisals.

There are professional appraiser associations who certify their members. Some, like the American Association of Appraisers, offer a searchable database of experts.

Places to Sell

When selling antiques, people often think of eBay first, because of its big user base. However, this audience is not always the most discerning when it comes to quality items. An antique auction house is more likely to get the best price. It’s important to be clear about what kind of fees you can expect to pay, before you commit, though.

Another alternative is to sell through an antique dealer who will take a percentage of the sale. The drawback is you might have to wait a while for a buyer. It’s best to do some shopping around before committing to one seller.

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