Dear Old Man:

I have been given this clock by my parents. I have been reading your articles in The Best Times and am wondering if you know anything about Chelsea clocks. The clock was purchased in Boston at Crump and Low in 1907 by my grandmother and has been in our family ever since. JJ

Dear JJ:

Chelsea Clocks have been eagerly collected by clock collectors and antique enthusiasts worldwide. Known as “The Timekeepers of the Sea,” Chelseas have been built to withstand the rigorous conditions of the sea and have been used by the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard aboard their ships for many years.

In addition to ship clocks, Chelsea, a premium clock maker, also has made decorative clocks for the home.

Your clock is a Chelsea Willard Banjo.

Chelseas were made in Chelsea, Mass., a suburb of Boston. Simon Willard patented the American Banjo on Feb. 8, 1802. Chelsea began making Willard reproductions in the early 1900s.

Purchased in Boston by members of the family in 1918, the timepiece has been well maintained and has its original sales slip and maintenance records.

Because this timepiece is in almost original condition and has been so well maintained, with its original receipt and maintenance records, I would place fair market value at $800 to $1,200.

You may want to view some Chelsea clocks. A good source, of course, is eBay where you can see Chelsea ships strike, ships bell, desk models, mantel, shelf and wall clocks.

A good question often asked by clock collectors is “What is the difference between a clock and a timepiece?” The answer: “A clock has a chime or gong and records the hour or half hour by a ring, while a timepiece only shows the time.”

If you are interested in clock and watch collecting a good place to start is The American Watch and Clock Collectors Museum and Office, Columbia, Pa. They have an extensive library, helpful personnel, many area meetings throughout the country where you can study clocks, buy and trade, learn and study from other clock and watch collectors.

A Chelsea Willard Banjo Clock

A Chelsea Willard Banjo Clock

There is also a local club of watch and clock collectors that meets at the Junior League Office on Central Avenue at Highland. Contact Calvin’s Clocks 753-0098.

Ed Tuten can be contacted at, by phone at 901-758-2659 or by mail: 6973 Crestridge Rd, Memphis, TN, 38119

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