Patents in clockmaking usually cover innovations to clockworks, the wheels and springs and escapements that together contribute to a clock’s ability to keep accurate time.

In the case of Elias Ingraham, founder of the 19th-century Connecticut company that bore his name, the patents he applied for concerned the design of his cases. In fact, Ingraham won 17 patents between 1853 and 1873, all protecting the design of his clocks, most of which were made to hang flat on a wall or sit on a shelf.

Ingraham was able to devote his attentions to the physical look of his clocks because the technology inside them was rapidly becoming a commodity. By the middle of the 19th century, spring-driven clockworks were replacing weight-based ones, which allowed clocks to be smaller and lighter. Clocks with balance wheels no longer needed to be so tall in order to accommodate a swinging pendulum. These innovations permitted Ingraham to focus on the look of his clocks to differentiate himself from his competitors.

Which is exactly what he did. In 1844, he and his brother Andrew partnered with Elisha Curtis Brewster to form Brewster & Ingrahams. The firm would become E. and A. Ingrahams Company in 1852, Elias Ingraham and Company in 1857, E. Ingraham & Company in 1861, The E. Ingraham & Company in 1881, and The E. Ingraham Company in 1885. These minor name changes might seem overly fussy, but they provide the contemporary collector of antique Ingraham clocks with a sure way to date clock styles that were produced during multiple years.

The first Brewster & Ingrahams clocks were called Gothics. Some had rounded tops, and some came to a point, with sharp "steeples" on either side of the clock’s dial. Competitors came up with their own variations on the steeple theme, as did Ingraham himself, whose embellishments upon his original included steeple clocks that were ringed with columns and adorned with rippled molding.

Ingraham's banjo clocks, many in handsome walnut, were also fitted with springs. Ingraham shelf clocks ranged from painted timepieces richly decorated with mother-of-pearl to round Venetian and Grecian styles clad in rosewood veneer and adorned with gilt columns. Versions of these shelf clocks were also created for walls—the Ionic style was so popular that Ingraham made it from 1862 until 1924.

In 1885, Elias’s son Edward took over the company and continued its innovation in clock cases. Double-dial wall and shelf clocks produced during this period told the time of day,...

But Edward’s chief contribution to his family’s company was a patent that covered the application of black paint to wood to create a shiny, marble-like finish. These clocks proved very popular for the venerable firm—some 200 designs were produced until the 1920s.

Ingraham continued to produce wooden wall and mantle clocks until World War II. Between the wars, the company also diversified into pocket watches and wristwatches. But in 1967, Ingraham was sold to McGraw-Edison, which converted its clock factory in Bristol, Connecticut into a production facility to make fuses, which by then was a more profitable enterprise than making clocks.

Key terms for Antique Ingraham Clocks:

Escapement: A device that converts the pressure of a spring or coil into a fixed release of movement.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

National Watch and Clock Museum

National Watch and Clock Museum

This virtual museum, created by the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, lets you stroll through tim… [read review or visit site]

Clockhistory.com

Clockhistory.com

Bill Stoddard's clock history site offers a trove of great reference information on clock and watch makers includin… [read review or visit site]

National Maritime Museum

National Maritime Museum

Check out this sampling of nautical and maritime items held by the U.K.'s National Maritime Museum and Royal Observ… [read review or visit site]

Dan and Diana's Lux Clock Collection

Dan and Diana's Lux Clock Collection

Dan and Diana Lockett's amazing collection of several hundred novelty Lux clocks made by the Lux Clock Manufacturin… [read review or visit site]

Detex Watchman's Clock Album

Detex Watchman's Clock Album

Philip Haselton's guide to watchmen's time recording equipment. Includes 19th century German portables, 20th centur… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Antique Ingraham Statue Of Liberty Walnut Shelf Mantle Clock For RestorationAntique Clock Ingraham Liberty 1879 Charles Adams Gingerbread Chime Pendulum OakIngraham Antique Mantle Clock Beautiful 100% All Original Looks & Runs Great!International Harvester Tractor-farm Sales Display Pam-ingraham Electric Clock !Highly Collectible "admiral Dewey" Ingraham Clock Company Patriotic Clock SeriesC1862 Ingraham Mantle Alarm Clock Painted Face Runs Great All OriginalE Ingraham Rare Antique Mantle Clock Runs & Looks Great!Brewster And Ingraham Steeple Clock - 1850'sC1800s Ingraham Mantle Clock Runs GreatIngraham Buffalo Bill Mantle Clock W/ William Cody Statue Topper Nice Looking Ingraham Antique Oak Parlor / Mantle Calendar Clock - Runs GoodIngraham Oak Gingerbread Clock Circa1900 Very Fancy. Ticks And Strikes Good. E. Ingraham Co. 8 Day Time/strike Decorative Oak Gingerbread Shelf/mantle Clock Lot Of Alarm Clocks Parker Forestville Ingraham New Haven Desk Nightstand Vtg27 Clock Dials - Gilbert Ansonia Waterbury Seth Thomas Ingraham Welch SessionsAntique Ingraham Mantel Shelf Clock Movement Parts RepairAntique Clock By The E. Ingraham Co Bristol Ct-8 Day-mantle/wall Works FineVintage Ingraham Cabinet 13 Shelf Mantle Parlor ClockOriginal Brass Clock Keys Five (5) Rockwell, Ingraham.... Vintage CollectiblesRare Antique E. Ingraham 1912 1913 "indian" Peg Leg 8 Day Alarm Clock OldAntique Ingraham Mantle ClockIngraham Or Seth Thomas Mantel Shelf Clock Feet Trim / Ornament Clock Parts Set Ingraham "gila" Pressed Oak Clock With New Quartz MovementIngraham Dover Mantle Clock For Parts Or RepairAntique E Ingraham Mantel Clock Movement1850-1899 Antique The Ingraham Co. Mantle Pendulum ClockVintage Ingraham 8 Day Mantel Clock Chimes On Hour & Half HourLot Of 7 Clocks For Parts Or Repair, Baby Ben, Timex, Ingraham, WestcloxIngraham 3-02 Mantle Clock Movement In Good Working OrderIngraham Wall Clock Calendar MovementAntique Clock By The E. Ingraham Co Bristol Ct-8 Day ?-mantle-not RunningVintage '60s Retro Crazy Daisy Ingraham Electric Wall Clock Model 80-2471930's E. Ingraham Clock Time Electric T169 Wood Beehive Mantel RestoreIngraham Mantle Clock Movement & More19th Century Carved Oak Gingerbread Clock. Sessions IngrahamIngraham Kitchen Clock Running And Chiming Sold For Restore Or PartsIngraham Mantle Shelf Clock Key Stamped Double Parts Antique Ingraham Shelf Clock Looks Great!Vintage Retro Ingraham Rooster Kitchen ClockIngraham Regulator Wall Clock Working Westminster Chime 2 Clock Keys, 1 IngrahamVintage E. Ingraham Mantel ClockE. Ingraham Gingerbread Mantel Clock Movement With Hands Dated 9/27Antique Vintage Ingraham National Call Radium Alarm Clock Bristol Conn Old No KeVintage Antique Ingraham Skyline Alarm Clock To Restore Or For PartsVintage Ingraham 8 Day Mantel Clock Chimes On Hour & Half HourIngraham Black Mantel Clock Early 1900's RunningAntique Ingraham Company Mantel Clock Wood Home Decor Vintage Made In Usa BrassTwo Aantique Oak Violet E. Ingraham Gilbert Kitchen Clock Cases Parts RepairIngraham Mantle Shelf Clock Key Size 6 Stamped