The First One for August 2010
Left. Waltham banjo clock.
Right. Friends Bob “Vinny” Alpaugh (left) and Scott Gilbert at the 2000 National Convention.
Andrew H. Dervan (MI)
After joining the NAWCC in the fall of 1997, the first Regional that I ever attended, with a friend, was North Coast in March 1998 at Michaud’s in Strongsville, OH. Walking around the mart I was in awe at the variety of clocks available; I was particularly interested in finding a weight-driven banjo clock. I noticed a Waltham banjo on the table, but no one was there and the person at the next table said that they had gone out to lunch. We continued our walk around the mart and had lunch. When we returned to the mart the tableholders were back and we chatted and joked with them while negotiating a price. I purchased the Waltham from member Robert Alpaugh, and left the mart room, excitedly carrying my new acquisition. I took it home and my neighbor, a clock collector, helped me set it up and get it running. In July my wife and I attended the Midwest Regional in Milwaukee and saw Robert Alpaugh again and purchased another Waltham from him. I mentioned to him that I purchased a Waltham from him at the North Coast Regional. He joked, “That’s right; you came after lunch after Scott just returned from having a couple drinks—you got the clock at a great price!” We all laughed about it. I was really happy to now have a second Waltham banjo.
Over the next couple years I had not only the opportunity to acquire a couple more Waltham banjo clocks from Robert Alpaugh—now known as Bob—and his son-in-law Scott Gilbert, but become friends with them. At a subsequent Regional, Scott joked that Bob’s traveling nickname was “Vinny.” It is always a delight to see them; Bob is short and has a hearty laugh, and Scott is much taller and less boisterous, but a friendly and knowledgeable collector. Scott joked that you can hear “Vinny” before you see him. I always look forward to seeing Bob, aka Vinny, and Scott at Regionals; Scott’s business now limits his Regional attendance. Pictured here are Scott and Vinny mugging for the camera at the 2000 National. Scott and Vinny were very supportive when I started researching Waltham banjo clocks to write an article for the NAWCC Bulletin. My wife and I try to visit him occasionally between Regionals and enjoy Vinny’s company along with his friend, Edith.
This is what NAWCC is really about—meeting and making friends, not just collecting clocks! I always look forward to Regionals to see friends as well as seeing if there is anything interesting in the marts.
Charles River Museum of Industry in Waltham, MA, has a great exhibit dedicated to Waltham Watch Company. A group of Chapter 8 members volunteer at the museum and have worked to acquire a variety of donations—watches, machinery, and tools for the exhibit. If you are ever in the Boston area, go to the Charles River Museum around 10 a.m. on Thursday morning and ask them to give you a tour; it is well worth it. About four years ago I was visiting the museum and Joe Brown, a volunteer, commented that they would really like a Waltham banjo for the exhibit. I smiled and thought that it would be great to donate my first Waltham to the museum. It now proudly hangs in the center of the exhibit.
Left. Domed mother-of-pearl clock.
Right. Seth Thomas Office No. 2 calendar clock.
John Farnan (CAN)
When I was nine years old I was given a clock. I grew up in the little town of Dundas, Ontario, Canada, where we lived with my grandmother during the war years because my father was serving with the Canadian army in Europe.
In our town everyone knew every kid, and so I was walking down a street, when a lady called out to me, “I have something I think you would like.”
I remember her, but not her name. She was wearing a white apron, and her hands and face were covered with flour, so she must have been making bread.
She gave me the little glass-domed mother-of-pearl clock with a tik tak movement. I took it home and took it apart and got it running. It said “Roi a Paris,” so I thought it was somewhat ambitious to call a delicate little thing like this the “King of Paris.” Later I found out who Roi was.
Mine is missing much of the mother-of-pearl pieces, so I never knew what it should look like until I saw one on eBay a few years ago. I still have this first clock, which is pictured here.
When I was 16, I was in a barn on my uncle’s farm and hanging on a wall was a large calendar clock. It was a Seth Thomas Office No. 2. He gave it to me and I still have that one too. It had been in my great-grandfather’s office since about 1876. It was the Hamilton Dairy (Hamilton, Ontario), which later became The Borden Co. Ltd.
I rebuilt this one too (my second project) and have been restoring clocks ever since.
Misidentified Clock . . .
The June 2010 Watch and Clock Bulletin, p. 324, The First One series, shows a photo of a clock belonging to Douglas Cummings that is identified as a Gilbert. The clock shown is a Welch walnut parlor clock with the “Golden Knights” tablet. I have this clock and it is also shown in the 1967 book A Treasury of American Clocks by Brooks Palmer, on page 284. The caption reads: “494. E. N. Welch Mfg. Company. Walnut, Victorian motif; two knights in armor on horseback on glass door tablet. Eight-day alarm clock. 23”x 14 1/2” x 5 1/2”.
It is a nice clock.
Richard Wright (AL)
From author Doug Cummings
I checked out “My First Clock” and low and behold Richard Wright is “right.” No pun intended. It is a Welch! Those 50 years must have taken a toll on my memory. Sorry for the name switch. We have some sharp members in our organization. Thanks for the heads up, Richard!