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    

Rare Striking Repeating Carriage Clock, Mantle Clock, French ClockVintage 1940s Old Ingraham Electric Machine Age Art Deco Clock Depression Era Antique Seth Thomas Black Green Adamantine 8 Day Striking Mantle ClockVintage Rapport 8 Day Brass Striking Mantel Or Carriage Clock - Fully ServicedAntique Large Carved 1840s Black Forest Leuenberger Interlaken Mantel Clock RunsRare Antique American Shelf Cuckoo Clock . A. Frankfield Pat. April 24 186619th Century French Gilt Metal & Sevres Porcelain Mantel Clock No Reserve.Antique Seth Thomas Adamantine Mantel / Shelf Clock W/ Lions HeadsAntique Seth Thomas Adamantine Chiming Mantle Clock No. 260Antique Seth Thomas Clock Adamantine Mantel 8 Day Model Berri Restored19th Century French Gilt Metal & Sevres Porcelain Japy Freres Mantel ClockAntique Ansonia 8 Day Royal Bonn La Landa Mantle Clock For Parts Or RestorationKaiser Universe 400 Day Torsion Clock World Germany Zodiac Parts Or Repair 1930's French Art Deco Mantel Clock Set With Panther StatueIgnatz Jerome Horolovar Flying Ball Pendulum ClockAntique Ansonia Porcelain Mantle Mantel Shelf Clock - Warden - Cobalt Antique Ansonia Black Iron Case Shelf/ Mantle Clock W/ Brass Trim/ Works!Very Beautiful Old Chinese Chinoserie Mantle Clock - Signed - Info Welcome -rareAntique Pillar & Scroll Shelf Clock, Eli & Samuel Terry, Plymouth, Conn., 1824Vintage Mastercrafters Animated Clock - Girl On Swing - Lights & Working MotionSchatz 1000 Day Clock Series 1040Rare Lecoultre & Cie Atmos 15 Jewels Perpetual Motion Mantle Clock Needs Repair19thc Antique Egyptian Revival Figural Lady Goddess & Lion Statue Mantel ClockAntique Seth Thomas Mantel Clock, Bronze And BrassVintage Jaeger-lecoultre Atmos 15 Jewelswiss Made Mantel Clock Perpetual 528-8 Seth Thomas Crystal Regulator Mantle Clock Ca.1909 Original MovementLarge Gothic Church Carved Wall Clock Shelf Primitive Victorian Fireplace Mantle1860 Seth Thomas Empire Shelf Clock With Lyre MovementAntique Seth Thomas Westminister Chimes Like Sonora Gothic Style Mantel ClockVintage Lecoultre 8 Day Desk Clock Parts RepairLe Coultre Atmos Clock -15 Jewel - Working Order - Ser# 164355C.1880 Antique Figural Nude Greek Sphinx Mantle Desk Clock W/green Glass CaseBeautiful Seth Thomas Mantle Clock 8-day Key Wind W/ Westminster Chimes, Works !Nice Old Working German Bulova 8 Day Key Wind Vanity Desk Brass Carriage Clock!Antique 1950s Smiths Art Deco Oak Cased Westminster Chime Mantel ClockRare Miniature Enamelled Carriage Clock, Guilloche Clock?, Mantle Clock, WatchUnusual - 1910 Seth Thomas - Automatic Long Alarm - Advance Mantel Clock WorkingLecoultre "mystery" Desk Clock- Lucite Case- Rus Great!A Working Large Vintage Ornate Brass Mantle Clock Ref 1428Antique Seth Thomas And Sons Mantle Clock 1876Vintage Warmink Wuba Dutch 8 Day Ting Tang Strike Mahogany Pillar Shelf Clock Vintage English Smiths Of Enfield Satinwood / Walnut Mantle Clock.Antique French Art Nouveau Jugendstil Lady Face Mantel Clock, No ReserveVintage Smiths Three Train Westminster Chime Presentation Pendulum Mantel ClockVintage 1940s Solid Red Cabinet Radio With Old Antique Working Sessions Clock Vintage Old Antique Mantle Clock For Spare Or Repair Needs Platform EscapementVintage Lecoulture Swiss Atmos 528-8 Square Dial Non –working Mantel ClockAntique French Figural Mantel Shelf Clock Movement Dial Case Back Parts RepairVintage Mastercrafters Animated Clock Boy And Girl On Swing - Working! MotionAntique Black Seth Thomas Admantine Mantle Clock - Mfg. March 1902Antique 1940s English Art Deco Oak Cased Westminster Chime Mantel ClockWooden Works For Shelf Clock..excellent Condition Triple Decker 8 Day Movement Antique Ansonia(1880) Royal Bonn 8 Day Mantel Clock W Open Escapement!!!!!!1907 Gilbert Royal Bonn Porcelain No 419 Shelf Mantel ClockAntique German Westminster Chime Mantel Clock Movement PartsSeth Thomas Adamantine Mantel Clock, Restored,cleaned&oiled. Original Finish. Seth Thomas Red Adamantine 'devil' Striking Mantel ClockAntique Art Nouveau Jugendstil Sculptural Mantel Clock ~ Mercedes Of Germany YqzExtremely Rare Solid Silver & Enamel Victorian 8 Day Mantel Clock/carriage ClockWaterbury Clock Co. Niagara Shelf Mantel Calendar Clock Works All Original

Recent News: Mantel Clocks

Source: Google News

Fierce bidding war breaks out
The Cornishman, August 26th

Similarly a good quality 20th century modern mantel clock, 20 or so years old, again attracted high interest due to its high quality movement and nine-bell chimes which eventually found a commission bid at £800. A large 19th century painted pine scrub...Read more

'Antiques Roadshow' Repeats Cincinnati Episode Monday Night
WVXU, August 24th

II memorial at Ezzard Charles Drive and Cutter Street in the West End a few blocks west of WCET-TV; a 1920s Weller dog lawn ornament; a 1930 Martin ukulele; a 1920s toy horse and buggy; an 1870 mantel clock; and a 1905 French advertising poster...Read more

Rago Arts and Auction Center in Lambertville to host Great Estates on Sept. 11, August 19th

The selection of clocks is notable for a Chippendale mahogany automaton tall case clock; a Sevres style and porcelain clock garniture; an Empire gilt-bronze mantel clock; an Art Deco bronze clock; a George II style japanned tall case clock; and a...Read more

'Beauty and the Beast, Jr.' coming
Thomaston Times, August 12th

With the help of the castle's enchanted staff, including a loving teapot (Anna Davis), a charming candelabra (Dalton Dennis), and a nervous mantel clock (Kya Haywood), Belle and the Beast find a beautiful friendship and love that neither knew was possible...Read more

Kinsler cashes in all his husband points at once
Lancaster Eagle Gazette, August 7th

Around 1868 a family's Waterbury or Seth Thomas mantel clock might have been their single most expensive household possession, but then mass production began to flood the market with inexpensive clocks. Though these are now antiques, and highly ...Read more

Due South at GGMP Saturday
Thomaston Times, August 7th

With the help of the castle's enchanted staff, including a loving teapot (Anna Davis), a charming candelabra (Dalton Dennis), and a nervous mantel clock (Kya Haywood), Belle and the Beast find a beautiful friendship and love that neither knew was possible...Read more

Antiques: Roman warrior Ansonia clock 19th-century novelty
Press of Atlantic City, August 1st

Your photo shows Ansonia's 16-inch high, 19-inch long, cast-metal figural mantel clock. It features a Roman warrior in toga with battle sword seated near his armor and an elaborate cased clock. Figure, armor and clock rest on a cast-metal base...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