Alarm clock collection will wake up bidders

An enormous collection of alarm clocks amassed over a 30-year period, looks set to wake up bidders in an upcoming auction.

Great grandad Frank Randell from Nottingham has collected more than 550 alarm clocks from all over the world thanks to a passion which he admits turned into an obsession at times.

However, thanks to the 79-year-old’s dedication to clocks, Hansons Auctioneers is set to offer a huge array of alarms made during the last 90 years. The first 100 lots will go under the hammer on April 28 with many more to follow.

Hansons’ valuer Steve Fulford said: “I was blown away by the size of Frank’s collection.  I have never come across anything quite like it. It’s phenomenal and I absolutely love it. People amass all sorts of things, from toys and cars to ceramics and militaria, but specifically focusing on alarm clocks is pretty unusual. Most clock collectors go for centuries-old timepieces, antiques from the days of early clock production. Not Frank! He’s been busy buying 20th century alarm clocks dating from the 1930s onwards. They’re so fun and cute, especially the animated ones. Thanks to their connection to pop culture they demonstrate what made people tick through the decades.

Steve continued: “Noddy, the Flintstones, Mickey Mouse, Roland Rat, Wallace and Gromit, Popeye and even Mr T turn up in the collection.  There are some Star Wars clocks too and one dedicated to bedtime drink Horlicks. They connect us with our childhood,  famous films, books and TV shows

“Frank’s looked after them well and even kept the boxes. They’re in good condition and work. Their just isn’t time to catalogue them all in time for the April sale so we plan to spread them out across a few auctions. I’m sure bidders will like them including interior designers on the hunt for vintage wares to decorate homes.”

Frank, a retired transport director, said: “It all started with a James Bond alarm clock in the early 1990s. Then I came across a Beatles alarm clock.  It turned into a passion, some might say obsession.

“Wherever my wife Ann and I went in the world – America, France, Japan, China – if I saw a clock that suited my collection I bought it. I searched for them at collectors’ fairs too. They were all kept on display in glass cabinets in a basement room used for family events.

“I documented every clock, where I bought it and what it cost. And every six weeks I checked over them all, replacing any dead batteries. That was a big job.

“I’ll be turning 80 this year and I’ve decided it’s time to say goodbye to my collection. The kids don’t want them. I’d like to see them go to collectors who will enjoy them as much as I have. My favourites are the animated clocks. I am keeping a few for my three children, six grandchildren and great granddaughter.”

Steve added: “There is something for every budget in this collection. Some clocks will be sold in groups of five starting from £40-£60. Others will be sold individually with estimates of £100-£150. The best example I am aware of is a Bakelite clock with a moving ship. I have seen those fetch between £400 and £1,000 at auction.

“No one likes getting up in the morning, and it would certainly be a shock waking up to 550 alarms, but  Frank’s clocks really make you smile. These days most people are woken up by the characterless slab of plastic that is their mobile phone. Let’s face it, that’s not half as much fun as a nodding Noddy or animated cockerel!

“Frank’s collection is a joy. He paid thousands of pounds to buy his clocks over the years.  I hope we can recoup some of that outlay for him and put alarm clock collectors on the map. And if you haven’t started collecting alarm clocks yet, maybe now’s the time.”

The first 100 lots in the Frank Randell clock collection are being  offered in Hansons Auctioneers’ Toy, Clocks & Models Auction on April 28