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 E. Ingraham Co. Wall Clock Railroad Regulator Oak Original Finish 1910Antique E.ingraham "cabinet No.8" Oak Mantel ClockE. Ingraham Clock Co. ~ Corinthian Column Wood Case Parlor Or Mantle Clock & KeyAntique Ingraham Regulator Calender Clock -running StrongRare Antique 1880 Ingraham Mirror Clock With Brass W Gilbert Pendulum Works!Antique Ingraham Regulator Clock - For Restoration Or PartsAntique Seth Thomas Ansonia Ingraham Gilbert Mantle Kitchen Clock Pendulum PartsOld Antique E Ingraham Mantle Shelf Clock Feet Trim / Ornament Clock Parts Set 2 Old Wooden Clocks For Restoration - Ingraham - Mantel, Ms - Wall E Ingraham Rare Antique Mantle Clock Original Beautiful Runs & Looks Great!Fancy Ingraham Kitchen Ginger Bread Parlor Clock Nice Project Rare E. Ingraham (domino) Four Finial Black Mantel Clock 1880's RunsIngraham Wood Mantle Clock As Found - For Parts - As IsOld Ingraham Shelf Clock With Man Riding HorseIngraham Mantle Clock Movement In Good Working OrderVintage Ingraham Clock Movement Face Bezel Hands Chime Needs A CaseAntique E. Ingraham Wall Regulator Clock 36 " TallAntique E. Ingraham Gingerbread Kitchen Shelf Clock With Alarm - RunningOriginal Case For Ingraham Parlor Kitchen Clock Parts / SalvageAntique Ingraham Kitchen/parlor Clock W/ Alarm...estate/repair...ca 1880Ingraham Mantle Clock Movement Ifor Parts Or RepairE Ingraham Antique Mantle Clock 100% All Original Beautiful - Runs Great!Old E Ingraham Mantle Shelf Clock 1/2 Hour Bell Movement Clock PartsOld Mantle Shelf Clock Dial Pan Bezel Parts Lot Sessions Gilbert Ingraham Plus +Antique Wall Clock E. Ingraham Railroad Station Oak Original Finish No "reserve"6 Vintage Alarm Clocks For Parts Or Restoration - Ingraham, Ansonia, Lux, More6 Vintage Antique Clock Keys Ingraham Waterbury Ansonia Clock Parts SteampunkAn American Brewster & Ingraham Steeple Clock & German 30 Hour Clock For RepairsVintage Ingraham Atomic Starburst Mid-century Modern Wall ClockAntique E. Ingraham & Co. Clock Wood Mantel Alarm Clock For Parts Or RestorationIngraham Wooden Mantle Clock For Restoration Or PartsVintage Ingraham Eight Day Mantle Clock Made In Usa Antique Ingraham Gingerbread Mantel Clock For Repair Or PartsAntique E. Ingraham 5 24 Mantel Clock Movement 1880's Priority ShippingOriginal Antique Ingraham Treasure Island Banjo Clock Chime RodsNew In Original Packaging Kiss Ingraham Clock Featuring Ace Frehley Paul Stanley2 Antique Ingraham Mantel Clock Movements - For Parts Or RestorationVintage Authentic 2" E. Ingraham & Co Bristol Conn Clock Brass Key~beautiful Vintage Ingraham "hera-1872" Mantel Clock~needs Repaired~Original Antique Ingraham Black Mantel Shelf Clock Case PartsVintage Synchronous Ingraham St320 Mahogany Mantel Clock Running Unique