by David Hewett
When you're a Massachusetts dealer going through a winter that features record snowfalls and bone-chilling cold, and one of the finest examples known in your specialty field emerges at a February auction in Florida, it's almost like hitting the lottery.
That's the situation that drew Townsend, Massachusetts, clock specialist John Delaney to the Bill Hood and Son February 6th sale in Delray Beach, Florida.
"There were lots of dealers and collectors at the sale. There was some real competition," Delaney said. "But it was a great clock, and I stuck in there until it was mine."
The object of attention was a Federal shelf clock made by Newburyport, Massachusetts, clockmaker David Wood. Delaney paid $96,800, a record price for a David Wood shelf clock.
David Wood shelf clocks are finely made and extremely desirable, but they don't cross the auction block often.
One of his shelf clocks sold at a Christie's sale on January 25, 1986, for $55,000 (that was the sale where the magical $1 million mark for any piece of American furniture finally crumbled when Eddy Nicholson paid $1.045 million for a Philadelphia tea table), and another sold to Connecticut dealer Joel Einhorn for $55,200 at Christie's on January 26, 1995.
"I had one customer who was interested up to a certain level," Delaney said, "but I went ahead and bought it for stock anyway, and as luck would have it, I sold it almost immediately."
New England customers attending the February sale spotted an old acquaintance among the Hood and Son employees. Former Cape Cod auctioneer Richard Bourne, was working as sales coordinator for the auction. Bourne and his wife, Claudia, now live in Deerfield Beach, Florida.
"I have to say I was glad to see him," John Delaney said. "He was able to vouch for my check because nobody else down there knew me from Adam."