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Time doesn’t stand still for family clock business

Time doesn’t stand still for family clock business

TOWNSEND — Walking into the Delaney Antique Clock business at 435 Main St., you can instantly hear the soothing and peaceful chimes and ticking of their museum of antique clocks. It’s quite overwhelming and intriguing at the same time. On display in the carriage house are nearly a thousand clocks on two floors featuring the largest selection of tall-case clocks, with 150 on display at all times.

The international business started with John and Barbara Delaney when they lived in England in the 1960’s. They saw the value in antiques and purchased their first tall-case clock for $50.

John Delaney was a schoolteacher at the time and Barbara Delaney worked for the Red Cross. They were able to ship things back to America fairly cheaply and acquired enough of a collection to set up shop when they came back to live at 437 Main St. in Townsend.

The family has been in business for more than 42 years and moved to their current location in 1986. Brothers John and Sean Delaney now run the business for their parents.

Most of the Delaneys’ tall clocks are acquired from other dealers or auctions and from individual makers.

“The tall-case clocks that we carry are made by individuals; no two clocks are the same. There is a lot to a clock’s cabinetry and mechanisms as each is unique and stands apart from the other. We see something different every day, which makes the business fun,” said John Delaney.

They also feature a wide selection of American wall and shelf clocks, as well as French and English mantle and carriage clocks. For the Delaney family business, Townsend is a perfect location.

“Townsend is centrally located, close to Maine and Hartford, Conn., where most tall clocks are made and a large number have stayed in the area. The interest is very high in this region,” said Sean Delaney.

John and Sean Delaney feel there is no particular type of customer. Customers range from collectors to individuals that just wanted one clock that they saved up for. Typically, many customers are looking for an early-American clock and will travel a distance to see it up close at the Delaneys’ business. The Internet is a fantastic source of advertisement for the Delaneys as they are able to reach people from all over the country. They have sold clocks to individuals in New Zealand, Israel, Hong Kong, and Japan.

“We deal with all different types of people from all around the world. We are always ‘open’ on the Internet. In this economy, being specialized helps. We are still buying and selling because we are a destination for that,” said John Delaney.

The Delaneys have been featured on Antiques Roadshow and have traveled over the past six summers to different cities on the road show.

“This past summer we got to travel to Washington, D.C. which was a great place to take my 10-year-old twins, Lilly and Griffin,” said Sean Delaney. Sean’s wife, Amy, has a special-education background and is very busy with the children’s activities.

“Our business is not your typical 9-to- 5 job, so it becomes part of your lifestyle and the family has to be flexible to the hours,” added John Delaney.

John Delaney’s wife, Heidi, is a physical-education teacher for Hawthorne Brook Middle School. They have three children: Bailey, Kelty and Deklin. Sean and John are very active in PAT Youth Hockey and volunteer a lot of time coaching and helping with fundraising efforts.

With the aisles filled with mahogany, cherry, maple, birch, and walnut tall clocks from Newburyport, Boston, Salem, Northfield, Roxbury and Hingham you can feel the love this family has for its collection. It’s a collection that could never be duplicated. There is a history behind theses clocks that John and Sean Delaney are more than happy to share and describe to their customers. This is a family business like no other and unique to Townsend.

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