By Tim Jarrell
(September 29, 2023) — Alyssa Hurley knew instantly last fall when she passed by a house in Essex and spied a grandfather clock.
“I want one,” she told her husband, Jim.
Alyssa didn’t know it then (nor did her husband) but within two weeks, she would successfully bid $150 on a rare, antique, seven-foot plus clock offered at the Haddam Historical Society’s 2022 annual online silent auction. The clock was originally sold under the name of noted Boston merchant Bigelow, Kennard and Company and presented as a wedding present in 1907.
“It was more than we ever dreamed,” she said. “It was beyond a bargain.”
The Society’s 2023 silent online auction — featuring a wide range of rare and unique items, experiences, and gift certificates — will be held from November 3 through November 10. Throughout the week, area residents can follow the online action and strategically bid for coveted items. Winning bids are declared at the close of the auction.
The Historical Society is asking for donations of antique and vintage furniture, artwork, collectibles, clothing and accessories, unique books, jewelry and watches, pottery and glass, garden objects and children’s items. Donations must be in good condition and will be evaluated by the Society for their sales potential.
“People often give items that have a special meaning, but perhaps might not be valued as much by the next generation,” said Lisa Malloy, the Historical Society’s executive director. “We’re not limited to antiques. But we are looking for donations that are fun and unique.”
Last year’s auction featured 146 items raising more than $10,000 for the Historical Society. Items included a 1920 walnut gate leg table ($225); set of ten limited edition Disney crystal snow globes ($50); silver plate tea set ($25); Turkish kilim rug ($125) cord of wood ($280); vintage garden bench ($70) and autographed baseballs ($1,000).
Donors also contributed unique experiences, including an al fresco four-course Italian dinner for six guests ($800) and the opportunity to have your property “metal detected” by a squad of enthusiastic metal detectorists ($50). Detectors often find old coins, buttons and other artifacts that are turned over to the property owner.
The Historical Society is also seeking gift certificates, experiences, and merchandise from area businesses. Donors will be featured in email blasts, social media and local newspaper advertising covering East Haddam, Haddam and Killingworth. Donors can promote their businesses on the heavily trafficked auction site for the full week. Last year’s donations included gift certificates for restaurants, package stores, personal services, a flying lesson, and much more. Sponsors will be featured on a running banner at the bottom of every page.
“We are so grateful to our business sponsors and donors who support the Historical Society,” said Tracy LaComb, the auction co- chair. “We could not offer the breadth of programming without them.”
Alyssa could not believe her good fortune when she stumbled across the clock. She and her husband enlisted friends and clock experts to refurbish the antique. The distinctive face was touched up; pulleys and cables rewired, and the brass was polished. “We are taking loving care of it,” she said.
The clock’s donor, Nancy Meyers, (photo above, right, with Alyssa Hurley) is delighted that the clock has been restored. Her grandmother – the original owner — passed the clock down to her parents and it was a steady sentinel in Nancy’s Darien childhood home. It was moved to Nancy’s Higganum home in the mid-nineties, and last year, she decided that the clock needed a new forever home.
“We wanted to find a good home for the clock,” she said. “And if we can get a little extra income for the Historical Society, that’s a good thing. It’s exactly what we wanted to happen.”
The Haddam Historical Society and Thankful Arnold House are important area cultural assets. Our school and educational programs have a profound impact on students, and help develop a strong respect for local history. The museum is located on the Connecticut Women’s Heritage Trail and is a member of Connecticut’s Historical Gardens.
The museum tells the story of Widow Thankful Arnold and her plight after her husband’s untimely death, which left her a single mother forced to sell off property and possessions.
The Society was recently gifted the Haddam Shad Shack, housed in the former Bill Maynard Shad Shack, which has been moved and saved with the important support of volunteers. The museum is the only one of its kind dedicated to preserving the heritage of shad fishing, and its importance to the Lower Connecticut River Valley.
Interested donors can contact Lisa Malloy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo by Tim Jarrell