Monday, May 13, 2013

Goodwill trip unearths antique German clock by Leah Hoenen

An old, carved wooden clock had seen better days when Norman Lowell saw it peeking out of a bag at the Goodwill store in Windham. Now pleased with its restoration, Lowell wants to find out more about the German timepiece and its history.

Lowell often visits Goodwill to see what interesting pieces he can find. “I’ve always been interested in antiques and I knew this is something different, and this is worth something,” he said.

He bought the box clock for $8 and immediately set about having it restored.

Lowell, who has been a corrections officer at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham for 26 years, took the clock to the center’s woodshop.

Matt Theriault runs the woodshop. “It was in fair shape when I got it. We really put a lot of work into restoring it and refinishing it,” he said. The clock is made of dark, oiled wood and features the face of a woman wearing large earrings. Other decorations include flower-shaped medallions and columns.

Craftsmen at the correctional center’s woodshop touched up the jeweled woman’s face, carved columns and medallions to restore the clock’s symmetry, said Lowell.

In addition to restoring pieces, staff at the center’s woodshop also build custom furniture, make repairs and upholster furniture. The woodshop has a store at its River Road location, but will move to Windham early this summer to help make its products and services more easily available, said Theriault.

The clock project involved more than a simple restoration. During months of research, Lowell said he and Theriault discovered the name of the clockmaker online and found similar clocks made by the Gebr. 

Junghans (Junghans Brothers) company through the end of the 19th century and into the early 20th century.
They guess the clock was made around the turn of the 20th century, said Lowell.

Unearthing the name of the clock maker took some detective work. Theriault said they began by simply searching for German clockmakers because they didn’t have much to go on in the beginning.

“We took what we could apart,” said Lowell, “but there are no markings.”

Theriault said he found some similar-looking clocks which led to more information. “I found something that looked like it a little bit. After more research, I found one by Junghans that’s just like this one,” he said. “These are very unique and very detailed,” said Theriault.

A fully-restored, nearly-identical clock is listed for sale online for $700, said Lowell, and that clock is in Transylvania. “Thank God for the Internet,” said Lowell.

This clock could be the only one of its type, or there could be hundreds, said Lowell. “I’m not selling,” he said.

Lowell is interested in more than the clock’s manufacturer. “I’d like to know the history – the person who donated it and where they got it,” he said.

In the meantime, he plans to continue his regular trips to check out donations at the store. “You’d be amazed what you find at Goodwill,” said Lowell.

Lowell asks anyone with more information on the clock to contact him at

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