Robert Cheney is Skinner’s Director of Clocks, Watches & Scientific Instruments, overseeing two sales annually. Skinner is one of only a few auction houses in the world to offer specialty auctions in Clocks, Watches & Scientific Instruments, and it is Robert’s unique background that has enabled the company to establish itself as a leader in this rare collecting category. As the company’s resident clock expert, Robert also oversees the appraisal and auction of clocks and timepieces sold in a variety of other Skinner specialty auctions including American Furniture & Decorative Arts, European Furniture & Decorative Arts, and Discovery. He joined the company in 2006 and since then has overseen the sale of several clocks that achieved world record prices.
A third generation clockmaker, restorer, dealer and consultant in antique clocks, Robert has provided services to over thirty-five museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, The American Antiquarian Society, Historic Deerfield, Peabody-Essex Museum, The Concord Museum and Old Sturbridge Village where he served as consulting Conservator of Clocks since 1977.
Since 2007, Robert has been a familiar face appraising clocks on the PBS-TV series The Antiques Roadshow. He has lectured on the history of American clocks at forums throughout the United States, Canada and the UK. Robert has sponsored forums on New England clock connoisseurship, conservation and co-chaired the Longitude Symposium at Harvard University in 1993 that celebrated the life of John Harrison and his marine chronometers. Probably the most important clocks in the world, Harrison’s chronometers enabled sea captains to determine longitude and navigate the world’s oceans. Over 500 people from thirty-four states and seventeen countries attended the symposium.
The author of numerous articles and book reviews, Robert co-authored with Philip Zea Clock Making in New England, 1725-1825. As Scholar in Residence at the Concord Museum, Robert presented a dramatic re-interpretation of Willard clocks and published his findings in The Magazine Antiques, April 2000.
He has served multiple terms as a member of the Board of Directors at the American Clock and Watch Museum, Bristol, Connecticut and as Secretary and member of the Board of Trustees at the National Watch and Clock Museum, Columbia, Pennsylvania. For his many contributions to the field of horology, Robert was appointed a Fellow in the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors.
Watch Robert C. Cheney on the PBS TV series Antiques Roadshow:
Timby Solar Clock, ca. 1865
APPRAISED VALUE: $4,500
Black Forest Carved Barometer, ca. 1880
APPRAISED VALUE: $4,000
Egyptian Revival French Clock, ca. 1880
APPRAISED VALUE: $6,000-$8,000
Christoph Münhofin “Night” Clock, ca. 1680
APPRAISED VALUE: $8,000-$12,000
French Bracket Clock, ca. 1900
APPRAISED VALUE: $15,000-$20,000
French Lantern Clock, ca. 1725
APPRAISED VALUE: $5,000-$7,000