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.
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MAD Announces Fall 2015 and Early 2016 Exhibition ProgramInteriors & Sources (press release), June 26th
This complex relationship between patronage, power, and privilege is referenced in their Robber Baron series (2007) of highly polished and patinated cast-bronze furnishings comprised of a cabinet, mantel clock, table, standing lamp, and jewel safe...Read more
Making LoveOxford American, June 23rd
If Angela held it to her ear she would also hear the ticking of the mantel clock. These new monitors! So much more sophisticated than those of yore. Nineteen years ago, when last she'd tuned into one, the monitor would occasionally pick up the cell...Read more
studio job presents two new sculptures at design miami/ baselDesignboom, June 17th
named the 'robber baron buffet', the second product is an addition to the robber baron suite, originally conceived by studio job in 2006. the existing family of work consists of a cabinet, mantel clock, table, standing lamp, and jewel safe – each...Read more
Noritake china almost impossible to sell in Arizonaazcentral.com, June 16th
Question: During the 1970s, my dad was in the U.S. Army and for a period of time stationed in Japan. Before he returned to the United States, he purchased a set of Noritake china for Mom. I am uncertain of the pattern but believe it is Seville. There...Read more
Advertiser Bulletin: Major Estates Auction This Weekend at Crescent City ...Mid-City Messenger, June 16th
Other notables in the clocks category will be a rare ebonized boulle and mother of pearl inlaid black lacquer portico mantel clock, made in the 19th century and with the white enamel dial painted “P. Mallard, New Orleans” (est. $1,000-$2,000); and a...Read more
Collecting Guide: ClocksChristie's, June 12th
If this is above your price bracket, take a look at a 19th century version of 18th century mantel clocks, such as the French ormolu-mounted white marble striking mantel clock (below). Late 19th century French clocks are a good way of buying the 18th...Read more
Joe Rosson: Clock's date likely refers to its patent, not manufactureKnoxville News Sentinel, March 28th
I am sending some pictures of a mantel clock that was given to me by my father in the 1960s. I have no background information on the origin of the clock, which still keeps excellent time. The only markings on the clock are at the top edge of the face...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