Home & Garden

'Picture clock' may startle guests

One of the more unusual clock styles made in the 19th century is the "picture clock." It is a clever novelty, and a few modern versions are being made by Swiss clock companies.

An artist paints a village scene or seacoast town that includes a tower or church. The oil painting can show people working or resting and enjoying the view. A pocket watch movement is put in as the church steeple's or tower's clock. Each "clock" had to be wound every day, so the picture frame was hinged to allow it to swing forward and expose the back of the clock. Sometimes the picture also included figures with arms or legs that moved.

This type of antique clock was most often made in France in the late 18th or early 19th century. Guests may be startled if they notice the painting on the wall has a clock that always seems to show the correct time. An 1850 French picture clock sold recently at Fairfield Auctions in Connecticut for $1,700.

Before my mother died in 1980, I had asked her to leave me just one thing — an antique revolving bookcase one of her cousins had given her. It's a tall Arts & Crafts oak bookcase that rotates on a round base. The label on it says, "Manufactured by Sargent Mfg. Co., Muskegon, Mich., and New York, N.Y., pat'd Jan 23-83." Please tell me when you think it was made.

Sargent Manufacturing Co. was founded in Muskegon in 1889 and was in business until about 1905. The company had a New York branch in the early 1900s. Sargent made desks, stands, wardrobes and bookcases in Victorian Golden Oak styles and later in the Arts & Crafts style. Your bookcase most likely dates from the early 1900s. The earlier patent date probably relates to its revolving mechanism.

I'm wondering if my paper Chicago World's Fair umbrella is special. I have it displayed in my home and enjoy it, but I'm told it should be put away and saved. Any thoughts?

Enjoy your special collectible. It is not so valuable that it should be put away. The Chicago World's Fair originally ran from May to November 1933. It reopened in May 1934 and ran until October that year. The theme of the fair, Century of Progress, marked the centennial of the founding of Chicago. The motto of the fair was "Science Finds, Industry Applies, Man Conforms." Umbrellas like yours show up at sales and auctions occasionally and sell for around $30 to $45.

Tip: All Pyrex, old or new, is safe to use in the microwave.

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