Us maritime commission chelsea ships bell clock

Feb 15, 2020. 16:00 UTC
US Maritime Commission Chelsea Ships Bell clock
United States of America


Acquired from

For sale

Black circle type clock with gold numbers and writing


Clock was found on the beach during Pearl Harbor

Answered within about 3 hours
Feb 15, 19:08 UTC
By David

Fair Market Value

$400 - $450 USD

Insurance Value

$850 USD
What does this mean?

Hello Kimberly,
Thank you for sending in this Chelsea marine ship's bell clock into for an appraisal. I shall try to help you with that today.
World War II era, zinc alloy case with phenolic bezel, double barrel spring, time and ship's bell striking, engine room clock with model 'L' movement, case No. ?32612, made for the U.S. Maritime Commission (created in 1936) and made by the Chelsea Clock Company, Boston, Ma. USA circa 1939-1944.
CASE: Although the size is not provided, I believe the dial has a 5 or 5.5 inch diameter and is in an approximately 6 inch diameter case. This particular model was housed in a zinc alloy case with a phenolic bezel, both due to the lack of brass. The knurled knob on the left side of the bezel should be about 4/8ths inch long whereas the same clock made post WW II would have the length of the knurled knob at 5/8". These cases had a five knuckle hinge on the right, ebonized zinc alloy canister and a flange at the back with three holes for attachment to the ships bulkhead. The white paint from the bulkhead has seeped onto the back of the clock (a good thing). the back of the case does carry a serial number which I believe is and should be six digits, but only five are clearly legible, '?32612'. (The earliest model L movements, which is housed in this case first appeared in 1938. Case no 32612 would date the clock to 1907 which is incorrect, so it become important to determine what the first number was. My impression from the angle remnants of the first number is that it was most likely a 4, making the serial number 432612, dating the clock to 1944.)
DIAL: Approximately -5.5 inch diameter, black painted round brass dial signed “Chelsea Ships Bell, U.S. Maritime Commission, Ser. No. (blank) ”, with white Arabic hours, each with luminous dots placed every five minutes along the closed bar minute track. The dial also has a luminous dot under the fast/slow lever @12 for altering the speed of the movement. The Spade hands are made in the Continental manner. There are two winding apertures.
MOVEMENT: Not shown, but should be the model L ship's bell movement, a round, quality brass, double barrel spring driven movement with balance wheel lever escapement, rack & snail ships bell strike mechanism on a blued coiled gong which is screwed to the metal backboard inside the case. The movement should be signed “Chelsea Clock Co. Boston, U.S.A." and have the same six digit number as is found on the back of the casing. **{If that proves untrue then there is a real problem with the clock and its housing.}
Case - Some white paint has gotten onto the flange at the back of the phenolic case, which does not disturb me, in fact, it makes the clock more genuine to me.
Dial - The dial has a couple of scuff marks in the vicinity of the two and three and some speckling between the winding holes.
Movement - Not evaluated but for this appraisal will presume that it is genuine, original to this case and functional.
Commentary: When you say, "Clock was found on the beach during Pearl Harbor" that is a problem for me since during Pearl Harbor no one would take the time to remain on that particular beach, perhaps any other beach in the world, but not that one. So, I am uncertain about what to make of that statement. I will simply assume that this clock was found on the beach in Pearl Harbor during the early years of WW II. As far as the Pearl Harbor story, there is no tangible written proof of the association, so that piece of information, i.e. by verbal history, plays no role in pricing of this clock.
HISTORY: By 1907 Chelsea was well established as a clock supplier to commercial markets, primarily in the new motor car industry. They had also already supplied marine clocks to the US Navy. The list quickly expanded to the US Lighthouse, US Revenue and US Life Saving Services. In the 1930s names changed and other government agencies were created. The first federal agency charged with promoting a U.S. merchant marine was the United States Shipping Board of 1916. With America’s entry into World War I in 1917, the Shipping Board constructed a fleet of merchant vessels that later became the nucleus of the U.S. maritime industry in the 1920s and 1930s. The Merchant Marine Act of 1936 abolished the Shipping Board and created the United States Maritime Commission “to further the development and maintenance of an adequate and well-balanced American merchant marine, to promote the commerce of the United States, (and) to aid in the national defense …
After looking at comparable examples of the 'model L' WW II era, engine room, ship's bell clock, an example in very good condition except for the serial number on the back of the case, my opinion is that the fair market value in today's auction market, assuming the number on the back of the case matches the number on the brass movement, and assuming the clock is functioning, would be in the range of $400-$450.
I hope that provides some useful information for you about this clock. we thank you for using for the appraisal.
My best,

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