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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Return to Standard Time is hard work at this house
Hamilton Spectator, October 28th

Then a 1940s German mantel clock takes the stage. Next, the still-strong chimes of an 1890s grandfather clock. Now a clock part way up the stairs is counting off the hours. "There we go," Gord says, "the whole fleet." About 10 years ago, he learned...Read more

Over 40 original artworks by Lucy Mustin Peters (Am., 1911-2001) will be sold ...
ArtfixDaily, October 26th

side chairs, a drop-leaf table, a vintage fall-front desk, a podium, a large figural mantel clock, additional mantel clocks, and a Julie Taylor (Aimee Teegarden in Friday Night Lights, Season 1) screen-worn dress, accompanied by a certificate of...Read more

North Atlantic Oscillation Provide Guide To New Album, October 17th

Some of the 'ambient' percussion is an old mantel clock with the weight removed so that it ticked faster and more erratically." August: "Some spurious time signatures smuggled into what is otherwise a fairly guileless dream-pop song. Too Many Organs...Read more

Fine Art and Antiques Show at Park Avenue Armory
New York Times, October 16th

At Frank Partridge, there's a gaudy, repellent yet fascinating Directoire ormolu mantel clock made in France in 1795. Its iconography represents a peculiarly ethnocentric vision of America. Atop the clock sits a doll-size, shirtless, black-skinned...Read more

Opening Saturday
East Hampton Star, October 9th

Stanley Bitterman recently made repairs to an 1840s mantel clock from the Talmage family at the East Hampton Farm Museum, which opens to the public on Saturday. Morgan McGivern. When the East Hampton Farm Museum opens on Saturday, visitors will ...Read more

The grandfather clock
The (blog), October 7th

He had to still the eight-day mantel clock over the piano (shown in an 1897 Sears catalog for #3.90); its brisk clatter covered the solid, decisive ticking of the grandfather. Elsewhere in the house, the little French clock, an ornament on his mother's...Read more

Weekly Roundup of eBay Vintage Home Finds
Huffington Post, October 6th

Be sure not to miss the French Art Deco mantel clock set, the Victorian needlepoint fireplace screen, the 1960s chandelier, and the 1950s Verstervig Eriksen dining chairs. DISCLOSURE: Editorial selections are made by Zuburbia with no direct promotional ...Read more

Lyndeborough honors former town administrator
Nashua Telegraph, October 2nd

served as administrator for about a year in 2011-12 and again as a part-time temporary during the medical leave of Administrator Kate Thorndike from last fall until the appointment of current administrator Russ Bolland, was presented with a mantel...Read more