Mantel clocks (also known as mantle or shelf clocks) were inexpensive to make and affordable to own, which explains why they were one of the most popular clocks in the 18th and 19th centuries. Part decoration, part practical timepiece, mantel clocks are so named because they were small enough to be displayed on a shelf or mantel.
Mantel clocks were made with both brass and wood movements and ran anywhere from 30 hours to eight days between windings, although some Seth Thomas clocks from the late 19th and early 20th centuries ran for 15 days. Although its origins lay in France in the 18th century, the mantel clock took off in the U.S. in Connecticut during the early 19th century, when clockmaker Eli Terry began mass-producing them.
Ornately decorated and usually made of wood, porcelain, or ormolu, mantel clocks were mostly key-wound with a swinging pendulum. American mantel clocks were typically made of cherry or oak and sometimes incorporated iron or brass.
The bases of mantel clocks were decorated in a variety of ways. Some were made of solid wood or wooden panel, others were engraved, and some mantel clocks featured intricately detailed painted scenes. There were even mantel clocks with calendars built into their faces.
The Ansonia Clock Company made some gorgeous porcelain mantel clocks, whose front surface was painted with images of flowers. Ansonia also produced carved clocks with beautiful sculptures and figurines sharing their base.
Unlike Ansonia’s elaborate carvings, Seth Thomas clocks were all about smooth, sleek lines. His slick, 19th-century mantel clocks, usually made of richly colored wood, look more ...
The ogee clock was introduced in the 1840s. Featuring an "S"-like curve in its molding, ogee clocks were very popular, and most clock companies of the era produced variations on the ogee theme.
In the mid-19th century, Elias Ingraham created what is known as the steeple clock, whose triangle front and column-like sides resemble a church steeple. This design sparked numerous spin-offs, such as the double steeple and the beehive.
Whatever you call them, mantel clocks have maintained their popularity for more than two centuries because they are dependable and work so well in so many different domestic situations. Today, they continue to be sought after by collectors and non-collectors alike for pretty much the same reasons.
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
National Watch and Clock Museum
National Maritime Museum
Dan and Diana's Lux Clock Collection
Detex Watchman's Clock Album
Clubs & Associations
Other Great Reference Sites
Most watched eBay auctions
Recent News: Mantel Clocks
Source: Google News
Cuban couple's American dream turns 53The San Diego Union-Tribune, October 6th
Generous volunteers from two Bay area Baptist churches helped the De Sotos rent a small house in Richmond and filled it with donated food and goods, including a wooden mantel clock and steel cooking pot they still proudly display. One of the items they ...Read more
Chinese vases fetch a record €560000 at Laois auctionIrish Times, September 25th
Lot 54, “a monumental George III period carved giltwood framed mirror”, €8,500 (€15,000-€25,000); Lot 147, a late 18th/early 19th-century French gilt bronze mantel clock, €2,800 (€3,000-€5,000); Lot 180, a 19th-century hunting horn in a leather...Read more
Letters from the Island: Remembering a fine feline friendNiagara Gazette, September 19th
After much deliberation and an overnighter – they quickly adjusted to the quarter-hour threat of our chiming mantel clock – we took them in, Casey, a bright dusky activist who we swear was part border collie, and Maddie, a bulky, sullen calico. Excuse...Read more
London: Buzzy Bars, Restaurants, Exhibitions and MoreWWD, September 17th
One of the artist's most notable illustrations, the mantel clock on the After Eight mint box, is still used by Nestlé today. The exhibition will also focus on the key role played by Gilbert's wife, Ann, as his muse and support throughout his career...Read more
A Dan Limber Auction, September 16Continental eNews, September 8th
Roll Top Desk, Antique Pump Organ full restored inside, piano stool, 4 shelf glass book case, Carousel Horse collection, Mantel clock, wall clock, buffet, table with 2 leafs, Oak Hall Tree, rocking chair, Antique Plant Stand, Wood Butter Molds...Read more
The Bedford Antiques Show at Historical HallArtfixDaily, September 8th
The tent booth will feature small furniture and elegant accessories; porcelains, bronzes, clocks, and other fine small things. One special clock is, according to Mr. Romano, “The best Black Forest mantel clock I have ever seen.” It stands about 30...Read more
Memorial to Foster arrives at libraryNewsbug.info, September 6th
The time has come. Members of the Williamsport-Washington Township Public Library staff and board celebrated the recent arrival of a handmade mantel clock purchased in memory of former library employee Jeanne Foster. Also on hand were several ...Read more
Junk or Gem: German Mantel ClockWMTV, February 23rd
It was a staple in many homes decades ago. A mantel clock that chimed every fifteen minutes or half-hour. Now, one woman is curious to see what the history behind her grandmother's mantel clock could be. "This is my Grandmother's mantel clock, my ...Read more