Posted 4 years 26 days ago ago by Gary Sullivan 2 Comments
I appraised clocks at the Atlanta Roadshow on Saturday, where we saw a nice selection of pretty good clocks. In all, five were appraised on camera plus I was interviewed by Antiques Roadshow Insider Magazine regarding a sixth clock. My fellow appraiser John Delaney went on camera with two pieces from a nice collection of high end reproduction clocks.
The two repro clocks that were taped for TV were a girandole and a lyre clock, both made by Elmer Stennes in Weymouth, MA. Elmer was a talented cabinet maker who specialized in creating excellent reproductions of the best and rarest early American clocks. He was also a murderer and died in a hail of bullets at the hand of still another murderer! active in the 1940s through his death in 1975, he produced what are today, some of the most valuable and sought-after reproduction clocks. In 1968, during an argument with his wife, he grabbed his .357 magnum and shot her dead. He admitted to shooting her, but amazingly, while awaiting trial he was released on bail and continued to make clocks. In addition to his name, he branded these clocks “O. O. B.,” for “out on bond”.
He served only 28 months of an 8 to 10 year sentence, but continued to make clocks while in prison. These clocks were branded “M.C.I.P.” for “Massachusetts Correctional Institute at Plymouth”, or with his strange sense of humor “made clocks in prison”.
Stennes was released in 1972 and he married again in 1973 (who would marry a guy that had killed his previous wife??). “live by the sword, die by the sword”, Elmer had made enemies and he met his sword in October of 1975. Two gunman bypassed the alarm in his home and executed him in his own bed. The intruders shot him five times and his wife seven. She actually survived and claimed that Stennes’ son had been one of the shooters. Many believed he had good reason, between Father murdering Mother and being written out of the will in favor of a new wife. There is also the question of how the intruders knew how to bypass the alarm.
The killings didn’t stop! Elmer’s Daughter took her own life the following year by stabbing herself. Her employer was murdered as well and a man who sold clocks for Stennes killed himself. I’m just glad not have been born into that family.
The legacy of Stennes and his clocks lives on. Collectors pay thousands of dollars to own his work. Watch the show next year to see if this appraisal makes it to television.
* Much of this information was taken from Jeanne Schinto’s article “Murder on Tick Tock Lane, an Account of Elmer O. Stennes”
4 years 25 days ago
Gary, I knew Stennes made great clocks and are very sought after, I did not know he was a murderer. I auctually saw one of his girandole clocks in June, it was beautiful. A man who could make such beauty also had so much hate. Next time I see one I will look for a prison mark. Paul