Dorrin K Mace, Horologost

Dorrin K Mace, Horologost
The Clock Man in a pensive moment

Friday, November 25, 2011

Is it really worth it...

This week its about stewardship...

    A few years ago I obtained a c.1918 Model 400 National Cash Register to use in my shop.
When we lugged (and I do mean lugged as the machine weighs in at nearly 200 pounds) the cash register home, I proudly displayed it in “as-found condition” in the shop until I had a chance to restore it to working condition.  As-found in this instance meant peeling finish, STP and other automotive stickers all over the case, broken glass and a very nice mouse nest behind the cash drawer.  When my sister saw this machine she said out loud, why would any one do that to an antique!  After I explained to her that when the stickers were applied on the 1960's, this was not an antique, just an old register.  I reminded her things do not start out as antiques, it takes a while to get to that point.  I think I embarrassed her, but she did get the point.
    This point came up again one day in the shop when a person brought in a clock that was 50-60 years old and wanted to know if it was worth repairing.  I explained to that person that anything is worth repairing, but you need to know if you want to spend the money and if it has the potential of being a worth while investment. 
    I usually use the following list to help customers determine if an item should be repaired or not:

1. Rarity was the item an unusual piece that was made in limited quantities

2. Quality of workmanship was the item made well to begin with or was it questionable.  (Junk at its inception is still junk as an antique)

3. Amount of restoration needed some times the dollar amount of restoration will be greater than the current value, but if the item meets criteria 1&2 it is generally worth repairing

4. Trend in value if the item shows an advance in value over the years it is worth repairing

5. Your gut feeling  if the piece was "great aunt Minnie’s" and you have an emotional attachment, this may outweigh any other factors

    The point is, any item can be restored.  We are responsible to pass along history and sense of worth to the current as well as the next generation, thus we need to be stewards of our current and past items.  Keep items in good repair, keep a written history to be referenced and most of all enjoy the piece!  For me the most enjoyable feeling is having an old clock brought into the shop, restoring it to working condition, giving the owners a brief history on the item to reference and pass along, and watching them enjoy the clock.

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