After seeing occasional mishaps over my years of buying clocks by post, I have learnt quite a lot from other people's mistakes so I now tend to follow a routine when shipping clocks and movements. I will not be responsible for how you choose to pack anything that you need to post to me (for servicing, repair etc) but if you follow this methodology, you won't go far wrong. But be sure to arrange compensation cover.
- First, I let the movement run down until it stops - (it's always best not to ship a spring wound clock under tension).
- Next, I will unhook the pendulum and any weights and wrap them separately in bubble wrap. I will also take off any removable parts that could snap or break, like finials and the crown that sits on top of some German clocks.
- With large German wall clocks ("Springers"), I will next release the two side thumbscrews that secure the movement in place on its cradle, and slide it out; I pack the movement separately in its own box with some polystyrene chips (as leaving it in place risks breaking the two legs of the cradle that it sits on). Then I'll place the pendulum and the boxed movement inside the trunk of the clock and add more protective packaging before closing the door, to stop anything shifting in transit. Finally, I place a sheet of card over the top to protect the glass in the door.
- With 400-day clocks, after unhooking the pendulum I will tape the suspension to the back, and then wrap the clock before placing it back inside its glass dome and taping it down. I have never had a dome break by doing this but no doubt a courier will manage it one day.
- Next, I'll wrap the clock in bubble wrap, making sure no sticky tape touches any veneers.
- I will then place it into a strong oversize carton (sometimes two cartons, one inside the other) lined with polystyrene chips or similar to a depth of a couple of inches or so, and then add cardboard sheets to protect any exposed glass before adding more chips until it's completely covered by another couple of inches.
- I will then add any remaining items, such as the pendulum, weights, finials and the key, in their own packaging before adding more polystyrene chips until the carton is full.
- I will usually place the documentation in last, including some simple instructions to guide you on any re-assembly required and explaining how to set it up properly.
- I'll seal the carton well with tape and and add at least two printed address labels marked with the words FRAGILE and GLASS.
Please remember that in terms of cost, the shipping price isn't everything. I do try to recycle packaging to keep the costs down and often charge nothing at all for materials. However, there are inherent costs and, where incurred, I will keep these to the absolute minimum. Cartons, tapes, labelling plus filling materials like polystyrene chips, bubblewrap, foam etc all cost money and I don't like to skimp, especially if you're paying hundreds of pounds for something.
I also have a small collection of barometers and may have one or two to sell from time to time. Aneroid types are perfectly suitable for posting if packed properly but I prefer stick and banjo mercury barometers. Please note that I will NOT ship any mercury through the post. It's dangerous and probably illegal. At the very least, you'd end up with air bubbles in the tube but the tube would shatter or the leather reservoir cover would split when the mercury shifts and would have toxic mercury everywhere. If you're not local and see one that you particularly want, I am happy to drain the mercury first and ship it empty but they are best collected in person and transported by hand.
Despite the experiences of some critics, I always found the Post Office parcels service to be very good. Often they deliver days before they say they will - not always ideal if you happen to be out, of course, but I prefer that to waiting in all day for something that doesn't arrive. Their rates are not the very cheapest so if you prefer a different courier, I'm willing to accommodate any reasonable request at your risk.
Recently, however, I have had good results from a new company, parcel2go.com. If you look them up, you'll see that they mainly use DHL and Citylink. I especially like three things about parcel2go; first, their excellent communications - they send me about four emails to report progress on every shipment; second, their tracking service which allows both you and me to monitor the parcel's progress through their network and to check the day it will be delivered; and third, their door-to-door service, which means that they will collect from me as well as deliver to you - this is particularly useful for large cartons now that the two post offices nearest to me have closed down.
As a guide, expect to pay no more than £10 to ship a carriage clock, £12.50 for a mantle clock or dial clock and £15 for a wall clock like a Vienna regulator or similar. All goods are shipped at your risk but enhanced compensation levels are usually available up to £500 maximum. This is an added option, however, as not all purchasers want it. There is an additional cost depending on the value and sometimes it's quite substantial. Buyers must make their own arrangements above £500 and will be responsible for pursuing claims although, naturally, I will assist wherever I can.
DELIVERY & UNPACKING:
I'm always interested in tracking progress of my shipments and check on them daily so I shall probably email you when I read that the parcel is been loaded onto the delivery vehicle in your area, to tell you to expect it that day. Please be sure to have someone present to sign for it or they'll take it away again and you'll have to drive to their local depot to collect it.
When your parcel delivery man arrives, please check the outer condition of the carton and record any impact damage you see before you sign for it. Then, whilst it's always exciting to open a carton that's just been delivered, please take care. Clocks are inherently fragile instruments. And antique ones are even more fragile so they travel best with the detachable parts detached.
First read the paperwork and pick out the small components like the pendulum, weights, finials, keys etc packed separately on top - this is why I place them in last. Lift the clock out last of all and double-check that you have completely emptied the carton before disposing of it. Unwrap the clock carefully using scissors to cut through the tape rather than trying to rip it apart. I realise you'll be eager to see it but it only takes a minute longer to do it carefully and it's definitely worth the wait and effort.