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    

Vintage Starburst Sunburst Ingraham Atomic Wall Clock Mid-century Modern EamesAntique ~ Ingraham ~ Wall Clock ~ For Parts Or Repair !Antique Rare E. Ingraham 1878 "orion" Walnut Parlor Clock Working Well 8 Day Antique Rare E. Ingraham 1878 Fine Walnut Parlor Clock Working Well 30 Hour The E. Ingraham & .co Parlor Shelf Mantle Clock 1881Ingraham Antique Mantle Clock Beautiful 100% All Original Looks & Runs Great!Antique E. Ingraham Mantle ClockAntique Vtg E. Ingraham Brass Mantel Clock Movement Time Strike Alarm MantleIngraham Beautiful Antique Mantle Clock Beautiful 100% Original Runs Great!Antique E. Ingraham Mantle Clock Case / PartsVintage 1930~'40's Ingraham Wind Up Alarm Clock Deco Gable Treasure 8 Eight Day Antique Ingraham-sessions Mantle Parlor Clock Case Columns-feet-ornaments-parts !! Works !! Vintage Antique Large 21.5" E. Ingraham Kitchen Gingerbread ClockVintage Ingraham 8 Day Art Deco Alarm Clock Works Case Stamped 9/39Ingraham Antique Mantle Clock 100% All Original Beautiful/ Runs Great!Antique E. Ingraham 1912 "indian" Peg Leg 8 Day Alarm Clock Working Well GoodVintage Ingraham Wood Tambour Mantle ClockAntique 30" Oak Ingraham Calendar Regulator Wall ClockAntique Ingraham Pillar & Column Mantel Shelf Clock Needs RepairAntique Ingraham Regulator Octagon Clock Reverse Painted Glass Pendulum BostonAntique Ingraham €Antique Vtg Ingraham Mantle Mantel Beehive Tambour Brass Clock Dial-face-bezel !Antique Ingraham Kitchen Wood & Glass Clock With Key/beautiful Condition/works!Ingraham Clock Movement With Calendar Parts - For Repair Or PartsE. Ingraham Carved Oak Cabinet Clock For The American Wringer CoE.ingraham Mantle Clock Parts Or Repair Westminister Chime 7 Antique/vintage Clock Dials Gilbert, Ingraham, Sessions, Boston Mfg. & 3 PlainVintage Sentinel Strike Montclair Mantle Clock Sst-6 Ingraham Co - Bristol Conn.Antique Ingraham Brass Clock Works Movement Clock Parts Nov.11.79 E Ingraham Gingerbread Mantel Clock 'ocean Line'Vintage Wood Frame 13 1/2" E. Ingraham School Clock Wall Electric WorksAntique Ingraham Duplex Cortez No. 1895 Mantle Clock Working W/ Key & PendulumIngraham Clock Parts8 Antique Vintage Alarm Clocks Gilbert Lux Apollo Ingraham New Haven WestcloxAntique Ingraham Mantel Clock, Dark Mahogany Case, InopBig Apple Electric Wall Clock By Ingraham Antique Ingraham Black Mantel Clock For Parts Or RepairNew!! 2, Exact Copies Ingraham Shelf Clock Labels - Doric, Venetian, Mosaic