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    

1886 Ingraham Divan Model - Cabinet Mantel Clock 8-day Working Striking NiceAntique 1909 Ingraham Dew Drop Calendar Wall ClockAntique Ingraham "warwick" Fancy Cased Shelf ClockAntique E.ingraham Co. Bristol Conn 2 Column Mantle Clock.Ingraham Antique Mantle Clock 100% All Original Beautiful Runs Great!Old Ingraham Mantle Shelf Clock Dial Bezel Glass PartsAntique Ingraham Time Only Banjo Clock MovementAntique Ingrahm*lion* Oak Gingerbread ClockE.ingraham Fancy Walnut Gingerbread ClockOld Ingraham Mantle Shelf Clock Dial Bezel Glass PartsIngraham "milford" Gallery Clock In Running Condition But Needs Restoration WorkAntique Ingraham *gila* Calender Gingerbread ClockAntique E. Ingraham Mantle Clock Dial And BezelE. Ingraham Venetian Shelf Clock Circa 1859Antique #2 Bristol Ingraham Regulator Carved Oak Wood Wall Clock American MadeIngraham Walnut Parlor Clock With Alarm & StrikeAntique Ingraham Kitchen Clock Movement With Alarm Parts RepairGolden Oak Ingraham Kitchen Clock Circa 1890Old E Ingraham Mantle Shelf Clock 1/2 Hour Bell Movement Clock PartsIngraham Beehive Mantle Clock ProjectAntique "mission Oak" Shelf Clock By "e. Ingraham Co. Bristol Ct." UsaVintage E. Ingraham Mantle Clock With Alarm - Keuka - Needs Repaired / RestoredVintage Original Ingraham Co Mantle Clock Key Wind 17.5 X 12 Non Running As Is E. Ingraham Venetian Shelf Clock Circa 1859E. Ingraham "eclipse" Antique 8 Day Time & Strike Mantel ClockSweet Old Antique Black Ingram Mantel Clock That Needs Work~runs Fast~ Ingraham 8 Day Mantel Clock For Parts Or RepairIngraham Banjo Clock With Key Runs Eagle Finial VintageVintage Sessions & Ingraham Mantle Clock Dial Lot 2Vintage Ingram Gingerbread Kitchen Mantel Clock Pendulum Antique Works Great Antique Ingraham Mantel Shelf Clock Movement Parts RepairAntique E Ingraham Gigerbread ClockAntique E Ingraham "chum" Alarm Clock Art Deco Era Tin & Catalin WorksOld Ingraham Clock Movement Ang Gong For A Mantle Clock.Original Vintage Antique Old Ingraham Brass Clock KeyAntique E. Ingraham Mantle Clock Movement - 11 10Ingraham Antique Mantle Clock Camel Back Parts Or Repair With Movement Nice CaseE. Ingraham Co. Banjo Clock Case Only For Parts Or RepairOld E Ingraham Mantle Shelf Clock 1/2 Hour Bell Movement Clock PartsVintage E. Ingraham, Bristol, Conn., Mantle Clock Wizard Key & Pendulum E. Ingrahm Pendulum Wall Clock3 Old Clock Cases Parlor Kitchen Gingerbread New Haven Ingraham Seth ThomasAntique E. Ingraham Mantle Clock Case Pillars And Caps - Adrian ModelVintage Antique Ingraham Kitchen Shelf Clock Case PartsVintage Ingraham Gothic Cathedral Wooden Clock W/ Pendulum Antique E. Ingraham Mantle Clock Case FeetAntique Ingraham Mantel ClockOld E. Ingraham Clock Wood Case Bim Bam Clock Works Great Antique Large Ingraham Clock Dial And Bezel Glass Clock Parts Lot #15Vintage Ingraham Electric Chicken Rooster Kitchen Wall ClockIngraham Mantle Shelf Clock Key Stamped Double Parts E. Ingraham Golden Oak Striking Kitchen ClockVintage Ingraham Sentinel Alarm Clock With Box 1930's-40's Ingram Torchlight Series Gingerbread Kitchen Oak ClockIngraham Canadian Clock Co. Vintage Cream And Red Dial Face Globe Wall Clock4 Travel Alarm Clocks Elgin Peter Seth Thomas Wind Up Case (ingraham Broken)Vintage Chum Ingraham Travel Alarm Clock With Case Vintage Alarm Clock Harmony House Ingraham No ReserveAntique Ingraham Mantel Clock Antique Clock Spring E. Ingraham Co. Bristol Ct. Clock Parts