George Nelson Atomic Ball Clocks
History & Description
The clock, also sometimes referred to as the Ball Clock, was designed in 1948 while George Nelson was Director of Design for the Herman Miller Inc. furniture company.
Consisting of twelve wooden balls mounted on metal spokes from a central metal round casing, Nelson’s Atomic Ball Clock still looks as modern today as it did when it was created six decades ago and has been copied and imitated many times since, a testament to its originality and success.
There is an on-going debate as to whether Nelson was the sole designer of the Atomic Ball Clock, as many believe he collaborated with fellow American industrial designer, Irving Harper.
Guide for collectors
Despite their popularity, Atomic Ball Clocks are significantly cheaper than other Nelson clock designs, such as the Sunflower and Spike clocks. However, they are also sold less frequently through national and international auction houses and instances of them appearing on eBay are also comparatively uncommon.
Nonetheless, there are a number of online furniture dealers that sell Nelson’s Atomic Ball Clocks. A few good examples include; Twenty Twenty One, Stardust and Vitra.
Collectors should proceed with caution when purchasing supposedly vintage examples of the Atomic Ball Clock as the market is awash with contemporary reproductions and replicas.
Notable auction sales
On March 25th 2009 at Christie’s in London, a George Nelson Atomic Ball Clock, circa 1948, realised a price of £750.
On December 10th 2007 at Quittenbaum Kunstauktionen GmbH, Munich, a George Nelson Atomic Ball Clock, circa 1947, realised a price of €550.
On November 18th 2007 at Christie’s in London, a George Nelson Atomic Ball Clock, circa 1947, realised a price of £275.
On February 17th 2012, a George Nelson Atomic Ball clock, circa late-1940s, was sold on eBay for $401.
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