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.

Simon Willard, who created the banjo clock, made mantel clocks popular in Massachusetts. His design for a weight-driven timepiece, known as the Simon Willard Shelf Clock, is highly collectible today.

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.

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]

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    

Silas Hoadley Short Drop Shelf Clock .. Wooden Works Mvt. Great LabelSuperb 19c Gilt & Blue Sevres French Mantel Clock - Original Antique ClocksSuperb 19thc Gilt Spelter Horse French Mantel Clock - Original Antique ClocksGothic Trumpeter Shelf ClockVintage 1950s Bakelite Digital Clock , Nice Marbled Swirls & Silver Color TrimOutstanding Antique Ormolu Bronze 8 Day Miniature Mantle Clock.Jaeger Lecoultre Marina Clock,mantle ClockRare 19th C French Gilt Bronze 8 Day Mantle Clock With Pendulum View Glass FrontAntique Seth Thomas No. 96 Mayland Westminster Chimes Mantle Clock 124a, NrAntique Seth Thomas Mantel Clock Sonora Chimes Unusual Finish Greek RevivalAntique 19th Cent. Bronze Vincenti & Cie Champleve Cloisonne French Mantel Clock19thc Antique French Figural Lady & Lute Victorian Ebony & Ormolu Mantel ClockSwiss Boxed Platform Escapement For Mantle Clock Beautiful Atmos Jaeger Lecoultre Clock - 115 Jewel 1960's #235697 Antique Clock -19th C French Japy Freres Gilt Bronze Cubed 8 Day Mantle ClockAntique French Marble Mantle Clock Garniture Set~cherub &ram’s Heads €Rare Antique French Cast Iron Mantel Clock With Automation Monk Striking AlarmVintage Jaeger-lecoultre Atmos 528-6 Mantel Clock Serial 280621Antique Ithaca Calender Clock - Very Nice - Runs Good - #7 - Shelf Cottage Clock1855 French Vincenti Solid Gilt Bronze 8 Day Mantel Clock - Extensive VinesLarge Seth Thomas Adamantine Mantel ClockRare Vintage Original Jaeger Lecoultre 8 Day Desk Clock Egyptian Obelisk # 462Very Impressive 19thc Antique French Japy Freres Bronze 8 Day Bell Mantle ClockElliot Striking Mantel Clock Seth Thomas Antique Mantle Clock Adamantine 100% All Original Looks & Runs GreatAntique Vintage Old French Mantle Clock Movement Spare / Repair * See Video *Lovely 19thc Slate & Marble 8 Day Mantel Clock - Original Antique ClocksAntique Striking Carriage Clock, Mantle Clock, Bracket ClockJaeger Lecoultre Atmos Clock With Original BoxOutstanding Large Antique Empire White Marble & Ormolu Portico Mantel ClockHerschede Canterbury/westminster Chime Tambour Mantel ClockAntique German Gilt Metal Mantel Clock Under Glass Dome For French Fashion DollNice Working Brass 6 Man Mantle Shelf Clock Gordon Bradt Kinetico Studios???Stunning Antique 19thc French Solid Gilt Bronze 8 Day Bell Striking Mantle ClockMiniature Silver Guilloche Enamel Carriage Clock, Mantle ClockAntique Novelty Golf , Golfer Mantel Clock Vintage French 8 Day Westminster Chime Mantel Clock - Good WorkingVintage Antique Ansonia? Seth Thomas? Gilbert? Ornate Camouflage Mantle ClockTelechron 4f65 Blue Glass Art Deco Clock 1930s Needs AssemblingAntique Royal Bonn Co. Porcelain Ansonia Wind-up Mantle Clock -floral DesignRare Chauncey Jerome American Double Fusee Shelf ClockFrench Gilt Bronze Enamel Mantel Bracket Clock For Paris 1860s Le Roy And Fils1800s Plillar Column Lg Shelf Mantle Clock Wooden Wood Works Movement PartsAntique Oak Junghans Striking Mantel Clock Vintage Schatz 1000 Day 2 Jewels Anniversary Shelf Mantel ClockSuperb 19thc Marble Four Glass French Mantel Clock - Original Antique ClocksBeautiful Antique Swiss 10 Day Mantle Clock In Fine Inlaid Wood Case C1910Rare Miniature Porcelain Longcase Clock, Mantle Clock, Grandfather ClockVintage Cartier Tortoise 15 Jewels Alarm And Date Clock Luxor - RunningJaeger Lecoultre Atmos Clock 540 Elysee Mantel Clock Clean With Org Sticker 19thc Candelabra Mantel Clock - Ormolu & Gilt French Clock - Antique ClocksTop Quality Antique French Classic Figural & Vained Marble Mantel Clock SetStunning Antique Early 1800's French Bronze 8 Day Bell Arched Mantle ClockAntique E Ingraham Co Bristol Conn Mantle Clock Black Case Marble FinishedAnsonia Cast Iron Mantle Clock Circa 1885Very Rare 19thc Porcelain Serves Delft Mantel Clock - Original Antique ClocksLecoultre Atmos Clock For Parts Or Repair Non Running 526 ModelE. Ingraham Mantel ClockAntique Wm L Gilbert Capitol No 44 Gingerbread Mantle Clock Early 1900'sSublime Large 19thc French Pierced Bronze Ormolu 8 Day Mantle Table Cube Clock

Recent News: Mantel Clocks

Source: Google News

???, September 14th

????????????????????(Longcase Clock)???(Wall Clock)????(Mantel Clock)???(Table Clock)????????????????????????????????????????????...Read more

Brice Stump: With antiques, memories are what matter
Delmarva Daily Times, September 13th

It seems, when their parents or grandparents passed and their houses were cleaned out, one of the dearest things family members wanted to take home was the mantel clock, the mixing bowls, rolling pin, grandmother's dishes, carnival glass and those ...Read more

???, September 13th

?????????????????????Longcase Clock?????Wall Clock??????Mantel Clock?????Table Clock?????????????????????????????????????????????...Read more

Oak furniture goes under the hammer in Shrewsbury, September 4th

Similar examples of both feature in Bebb's book, with all three pieces believed to originate in Carmarthenshire, Cardiganshire and Brecknock. A potential individual star lot will be a mid-19th century French gilt bronze figural mantel clock by E...Read more

David Mitchell?s new time-travelling opus is a marvel
Ad-Hoc-News (Pressemitteilung), August 29th Engraved bronze wall clock, £39.95 Metal wall clock, £35 Red and white block Acctim mantel clock, £16 weiterlesen ... Dazu schreibt weiter: ORLANDO, Fla., Aug. 28, 2014 /PRNewswire/ ...Read more

Rhode Island Auction
Maine Antique Digest, August 28th

A large English gilt brass mantel clock fetched $1680. A gimbaled stick barometer sold for $1560 to the trade, and a dressing stand and mirror with a fitted interior with drawers was also sold to the trade for $600. A tole box went to the phones for...Read more

The time lords
St. Albert Gazette, August 22nd

The shorts are seasonal, he adds. Inside, a treated patient – a dollop-shaped dark brown mantel clock – happily ticks away alongside other broken models awaiting repair. It and about a half-dozen other clocks sound a cacophony of chimes every hour...Read more

Bygones: Market Hall was always interesting
Derby Telegraph, August 19th

I still have the mantel clock presented to him by his fellow butchers. My father was a licensed timekeeper for the British Boxing Board of Control. The Market Hall was a very interesting place. Under the Guildhall arches I recall the Monks family who...Read more