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Novelty Clocks

From Betty Boop to Charles Lindbergh, Timex miniature typewriters to an antique Auchsburg drunken Bacchus, novelty clocks never lose their appeal. Novelty clocks persist as collector’s items because they are whimsical, funny, and revealing. Not only does the novelty clock reveal a collector’s preoccupation with a subject, they also give insight into the hobbies and sense of humor of entire regions and time periods.

Tower clocks, some of the first known clocks prominent in the churches and royal buildings of Medieval Europe, featured elaborate scenes of astronomy and mythology. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, novelty clocks remained popular among the upper class, often entertaining their owners with music and moving figures. During the 20th century, novelty clocks became available to a wider audience and took a turn toward popular culture.

The Art Deco period of the 20th century introduced airplane clocks made of Bakelite and nickel. Clockmaking companies jumped on the trend and began producing clocks and watches featuring a wide array of fantasy characters and cultural icons, including the Mickey Mouse watch introduced by Ingersoll-Waterbury in 1933. Novelty clocks featuring cartoon characters, cultural icons, and hobby subjects remain popular today.


Quick Facts

  • A French gilt-bronze automaton lighthouse novelty clock with barometer circa 1890 realized a price of $6,392 at a Christie’s auction in 2013
  • An early 17th-century novelty Bacchus clock made by one of the Kreitzers of Augsburg, Germany brought $112,500 at an Abbot Guggenheim Collection auction by Christie’s in 2015. The figure's eyes move with the clock’s ticking and its arm lifts a bottle to its mouth each hour
  • An Augsburg lion automaton with moving eyes, tongue, and jaw circa 1630 sold for $155,000 at the Abbot Guggenheim auction by Christie’s in 2015

Recommended Items at Auction

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Frisian Staartclock, Middle of 20th c., wood housing with
Oct 30, 10:00 AM CEST
Frisian Staartclock, Middle of 20th c., wood housing with
by Henry's Auktionshaus AG
Est: €400- €800
€4000 Bids
Early red painted game wheel
Nov 20, 9:00 AM EST
Early red painted game wheel
by Horst Auctioneers
Est: $0- $0
$300 Bids
GERMAN HANS WINTERHALDER GRANDFATHER CLOCK C.1920
Oct 28, 11:00 AM EDT
GERMAN HANS WINTERHALDER GRANDFATHER CLOCK C.1920
by Kamelot Auctions
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids
Antique Gilt Bronze Figural Clock
Oct 27, 4:00 PM EDT
Antique Gilt Bronze Figural Clock
by Anzardo's Fine Arts
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids
Mark Indursky Figural Iron Dragon Mantle Clock
Nov 10, 2:00 PM EST
Mark Indursky Figural Iron Dragon Mantle Clock
by Hill Auction Gallery
Est: $100- $1,000
$250 Bids
Mysterieus gez. E. Picault per
Nov 04, 10:00 AM CET
Mysterieus gez. E. Picault per
by Historia Auktionshaus
Est: €0- €0
€1,8000 Bids
Travelling alarm clock, brass,
Nov 04, 10:00 AM CET
Travelling alarm clock, brass,
by Historia Auktionshaus
Est: €0- €0
€4200 Bids
French. Historicism clock, 2nd
Nov 04, 10:00 AM CET
French. Historicism clock, 2nd
by Historia Auktionshaus
Est: €0- €0
€2800 Bids
Mini cartel clock, 1st half of
Nov 04, 10:00 AM CET
Mini cartel clock, 1st half of
by Historia Auktionshaus
Est: €0- €0
€3300 Bids
AN EIGHT-DAY MARINE CHRONOMETER BY LEVITT, LONDON, RETAILED BY B. GUTTER & SONS, NEW YORK CIRCA 1830
Nov 02, 10:00 AM GMT
AN EIGHT-DAY MARINE CHRONOMETER BY LEVITT, LONDON, RETAILED BY B. GUTTER & SONS, NEW YORK CIRCA 1830
by Charles Miller Ltd
Est: £4,000- £6,000
£2,0000 Bids
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BENJAMIN FRANKLIN MANTEL CLOCK 19th Century Height 18.5".
Nov 18, 9:30 AM EST
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN MANTEL CLOCK 19th Century Height 18.5".
by Eldred's
Est: $1,200- $1,800
$6000 Bids
GRP inc Batman & Superman collectables x five
Oct 29, 10:00 AM BST
GRP inc Batman & Superman collectables x five
by Vectis Auctions Ltd
Est: £40- £60
£200 Bids
Skeleton Telephone by L.M. Ericsson, 1892 onwards
Nov 06, 10:00 AM CET
Skeleton Telephone by L.M. Ericsson, 1892 onwards
by Auction Team Breker
Est: €700- €1,000
€3500 Bids
Skeleton Telephone by L.M. Ericsson, 1902 onwards
Nov 06, 10:00 AM CET
Skeleton Telephone by L.M. Ericsson, 1902 onwards
by Auction Team Breker
Est: €800- €1,000
€4000 Bids
Skeleton Telephone by L.M. Ericsson, 1892 onwards
Nov 06, 10:00 AM CET
Skeleton Telephone by L.M. Ericsson, 1892 onwards
by Auction Team Breker
Est: €1,500- €2,000
€8000 Bids
Gustav Becker Skeleton Clock
Oct 30, 10:00 AM EDT
Gustav Becker Skeleton Clock
by Neue Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids
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Seth Thomas Beehive Shelf Clock
Nov 03, 10:00 AM EDT
Seth Thomas Beehive Shelf Clock
by Barry S. Slosberg Inc
Est: $60- $150
$300 Bids
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Victorian Ginger Bread Clock
Nov 03, 10:00 AM EDT
Victorian Ginger Bread Clock
by Barry S. Slosberg Inc
Est: $60- $120
$300 Bids
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Figural (Modern) Bottle Group, c1910-1960 [138497]
Oct 28, 8:00 AM PDT
Figural (Modern) Bottle Group, c1910-1960 [138497]
by Holabird Western Americana
Est: $70- $100
$350 Bids
Travel Poster London Underground Westminster Abbey Royal Guard
Nov 13, 2:00 PM GMT
Travel Poster London Underground Westminster Abbey Royal Guard
by Antikbar Original Vintage Posters
Est: £120- £240
£800 Bids
REUTTER, ATMOS, “PENDULE PERPETUELLE”, CHROME
Nov 07, 10:00 AM CET
REUTTER, ATMOS, “PENDULE PERPETUELLE”, CHROME
by Antiquorum Genève SA
Est: CHF7,000- CHF9,000
CHF7,0000 Bids
L'Epee French Gilt Brass Case Carriage Alarm Clock
Oct 30, 11:30 AM EDT
L'Epee French Gilt Brass Case Carriage Alarm Clock
by Joshua Kodner
Est: $400- $600
$1000 Bids
A French 19th century brass cased carriage clock h…
Nov 14, 12:00 PM AEDT
A French 19th century brass cased carriage clock h…
by Christian McCann Auctions
Est: AUD200- AUD300
AUD1800 Bids
A 19th century brass cased carriage clock having a…
Nov 14, 12:00 PM AEDT
A 19th century brass cased carriage clock having a…
by Christian McCann Auctions
Est: AUD400- AUD600
AUD3500 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Novelty Clocks


Sigalas

Sigalas

Historia Auktionshaus

Historia Auktionshaus

Auction Team Breker

Auction Team Breker

Roland Auctions NY

Roland Auctions NY