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

Source: Google News

News from the SNJ archives
Stroud News and Journal, August 1st

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Veterans Robert Brewer, left, and Wayne Clark visit recently at House of ...
Portage Daily Register, July 31st

Brewer had come to pick up a mantel clock that he and his wife had received on their 40th wedding anniversary. Upon his departure, Brewer's son-in-law, a retired railroad engineer, watched as Brewer and Clark crossed paths. Brewer was wearing a Marines ...Read more

Clocks, Watches, and Antiques at Schmitt Spring Sale
Maine Antique Digest, July 28th

A Lenzkirch mantel clock in the French style in burgundy porcelain decorated with ormolu and walnut and over two dozen pieces of brass trim, some of which was gilt and others of which were silvered or nickel, sold for $5737.50. The circa 1880 German...Read more

Works by Lichtenstein, Botero, Nierman to headline Ahlers & Ogletree's Aug. 8 ...
ArtfixDaily, July 23rd

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Joe Rosson: Clock's date likely refers to its patent, not manufacture
Knoxville 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 Clock
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

Collectibles: Angle lamp, Chinese cabinet and screen, Ingraham mantel clock ...
OregonLive.com, January 19th

Q. My grandmother gave me this clock and I believe it dates from the early 1900s. I recently had it repaired and it keeps great time. I'm just wondering what the value may be? S.F., E Portland. A. The E. Ingraham Company, an important clock and watch ...Read more

Joe Rosson: 'Black Mantel Clock' made by Sessions in early 1900s
Knoxville News Sentinel, July 14th

Q: I have a clock that was my late grandmother's. We believe it has a low value but would like to have some history. My grandmother indicated that she received it in the late 1930s or 1940s. It is 17 inches long and 10 ½ inches high. It is dark black...Read more