Antiques & Collectibles: Ansonia wall clock is a ticking treasure

Early 1900s Ansonia Santa Fe model regulator wall clocks such as this presently sell for $1,200 to $3,000, based on condition and mechanism factors.

Question: My photo shows a label glued to a box containing a working clock I bought last summer at a Cherry Hill community yard sale. Although my 52-inch high clock definitely is the one pictured on the label, the fancy wood decoration at its top has been removed and saved. I would like to know about the clock, its maker, age, value and hope you will direct me to someone who can clean and repair it. - M.M., Palermo

Answer: Your wall clock, made by the Ansonia Clock Co. of New York, is the firm's "Santa Fe" model introduced in 1901. Founded by Anson G. Phelps and originally incorporated in Connecti-cut during 1850, Ansonia was one of America's most important clock manufacturers, producing millions of timepieces before the company was sold to Soviet Russia in 1929.

Ansonia's eight-day, double-weight Santa Fe regulator wall clocks have a signed paper-on-tin dial as well as brass pendulum and weights housed in carved oak, black walnut or mahogany cases. One of the company's mid-range, half-hour gong striker wall models, the Santa Fe sold for $30 to $35 during the early 20th century.

Original mint, perfectly running Santa Fe clocks presently fetch as much as $3,000, while examples with minimal condition and mechanism issues often bring $1,200 to $1,600. Your clock's removed crest can be reattached and its mechanism cleaned by one of the experts at Linwood Clock Shop, 1043 Shore Road, Linwood. Shop staff can be reached at 609-653-4420.

Question: I have inherited several old dolls owned by my grandmother. One, 29 inches tall, is marked "Mae Starr Doll" on the back of its neck. My aunt remembers the doll singing a bedtime prayer and "London Bridge is Falling Down" when a knob on her body was turned, but we have not discovered how to make that happen. Any information you can provide will be appreciated. - D.H., Mullica Hill

Answer: Grandmother's Mae Starr doll, made by Effanbee Doll Co. of New York City, is one of several variations of Thomas Edi-son's original "Phono-graphic Doll" patented in 1887. Advertised as "The Greatest Wonder of the Age," Edison's doll contained a six-second nursery rhyme recorded on a cylinder that was engaged by turning a crank located on the doll's body.

Although Edison's doll was not a success, an updated, improved version debuted in 1918. Made by the Averill Mfg. Co. and marketed as Madame Hendren, the 22-inch and 25-inch cloth and composition dolls held a hidden motorized player. Activated by an exterior knob or lever, the mechanism played as many as eight songs recorded on cylinders included with the toy. Your popular, 29-inch Effanbee Mae Starr doll, produced from 1928 to 1944, was sold with six Averill cylinder discs played in the same way.

Mae Starr dolls in excellent condition with working activator and player as well as all original cylinders bring $365 to $400 while examples with mechanical or other condition problems are selling for $125 to $235 and many cylinders can be purchased for $25 to $50 each. Louise Sleeter of Louise's Little Ladies Doll & Toy Repair located in Woodstown, may be able to help you with possible Mae Starr repairs or restoration. You can contact Sleeter at 856-769-5544 or email her at Louiseladies@comcast.


Alyce Hand Benham is an antiques broker, ap-praiser and estate-liquidation specialist. Send questions to: Alyce Ben-ham, Life section, The Press of Atlantic City, 1000 W. Washington Ave., Pleasantville, N.J. 08232. Email:

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