The Ansonia Clock Company’s roots lie in the Ansonia Brass Company, founded by Anson Greene Phelps in 1844. Phelps supplied brass to Connecticut clock manufacturers until 1851, when he joined forces with two powerful clockmakers, Theodore Terry and Franklin C. Andrews, to create a clockmaking company of his own. Terry and Andrews, who had a successful clockmaking business in Bristol, sold half of their business to Phelps in exchange for cheaper brass materials. Thus, the Ansonia Clock Company subsidiary was born.
Many Ansonia clocks are eight-day movements, meaning that they only need to be rewound every eight days. However, in 1875, the company developed a 30-hour, spring-driven illuminated alarm clock with a walnut veneer case. The alarm triggered a match to ignite a wick, which illuminated the clock.
Ansonia’s extensive line of clocks included mantel clocks with elaborately painted china cases, beehive shelf clocks, miniature ogee shelf clocks with alarms, shelf clocks with glass domes surrounding the clock’s head, and regulator clocks like the 1886 "General" model, a brass 8-day, weight-driven clock with a cherry case and a dial that counted the seconds. Ansonia was also well-known for its novelty items, such as swinging clocks that featured sculpted figurines.
In July 1853, Ansonia showcased its cast-iron clocks, painted and decorated with mother-of-pearl, at the New York World’s Fair. It was one of three Connecticut clockmaking companies to exhibit at the Fair.
In the 1870s, the Ansonia Clock Company separated from the Ansonia Brass Company and moved part of its production to New York. Although the company continued to produce clocks in Connecticut, the New York factory, with clockmaker Henry J. Davies at the helm, employed more than twice as many workers—the majority of clocks produced from approximately 1880 on are marked "New York."
The Ansonia Clock Company experienced disaster in 1880 when its New York factory caught fire, causing $750,000 in damages. However, the factory was rebuilt at the same location a...
In addition to clocks, Ansonia began producing inexpensive, non-jeweled wristwatches in 1904. Production peaked 1914, when Ansonia was turning out 440 different models of clocks, but by 1920, that number had dropped to less than 140, and by 1927, it was under 50. In 1929, Ansonia was sold to Amtorg Trading Corporation, the Soviet Union’s U.S. trading company, but in 1969, the rights to the Ansonia name and trademarks were acquired by Ansonia Clock Co., Inc. of Lynnwood, Washington.
Key Terms for Antique Ansonia Clocks:
Ogee clock: Rectangular clock with ogee molding, which forms an S-shaped curve; the door underneath the face of the clock is often painted.