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.

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Recent News: Mantel Clocks

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A large mantel clock of the Eiffel Tower, with striking movement by Japy Frères, c1890, was probably made to celebrate the opening of the Eiffel Tower in Paris the previous year and is priced at £8,450 from clock specialist Richard Price. Historic to...Read more

Massive 1000-lot auction will be held Dec. 12-13 by Crescent City Auction ...
ArtfixDaily, November 25th

A gilt bronze figural mantel clock from the late 19th century, depicting the classic female water bearer over a circular blue and white porcelain face, 18 ½ inches tall and with the time and strike marked “ML 7183”, should bring $1,000-$2,000; while a...Read more

High-end gifts perfect for the holidays
Asbury Park Press, November 24th

Their Bradley Mantel clock ($2,660) is a limited-edition item — only 2,000 will be crafted. The mantel clock is finished in a highly polished and buffed Windsor Cherry with 15 different types of hardwood and veneers. Visit or call 732...Read more

What's It Worth? Sculpture after Charles Perron, World War II poster, Busy ..., November 16th

Garniture sets usually were comprised of a central mantel clock along with a pair of ewers, or sometimes a pair of candelabrum. Yours appear to be painted spelter with green glass, or perhaps painted ceramic bodies. At auction, without the matching...Read more

Holiday Shop at Craftsman Farms opens for business this week, November 10th

"Our shop is mission-driven. Gustav Stickley wasn't satisfied with mass-produced rubbish, and neither are we! We feature many products from small American companies and local artists. A gorgeous hammered copper mantel clock, or a soda-fired beer stein; ...Read more

“Beauty and the Beast” opens on Braham stage
Isanti County News, November 5th

While she spends her days at his castle, Belle gets to know the personalities who reside here: Lumiere, a charmingly handsome candelabra; Cogsworth, a tightly-wound mantel clock; Mrs. Potts, a sweetly maternal teapot; Babette, a flirtatious feather...Read more

In Cincinnati, ArtWorks' mural tours tell the Queen City story, one wall at a ..., November 1st

The Golden Muse, a 2012 addition to the mural collection that celebrates the nearby Taft Museum of Art. The mural features a female figure, inspired by an 18th century mantel clock, wrapped in sheet music. It's not just any music – it's Aaron Copland's ...Read more

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WMTV, 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