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    

Vintage Antique Bulle Electric Mantle Dome Clock French 800 Day To RestoreWonderful Antique Mantel Clock - Ormolu Industrial Steam Boiler Barometer ClockAntique Ithaca Calendar Clock Patent 1865/66 Mantel Double Dial Farmers Shelf NyAntique Ansonia "rosalind" Mantel ClockLecoultre Atmos 528-8 Swiss Made Perpetual Motion 15 Jewels Mantle Shelf ClockBeautiful Vintage Jaeger Lecoultre Atmos Perpetual Motion Clock Works GreatAntique 19thc French Dore Gilt Bronze & Paris Porcelain Clermont Mantle ClockRare 1920s French Art Deco Nude Ball Dancer Sculpture Mantel ClockBeautiful Antique Mantel Clock - Gilt Ormolu Ornate French Mantle Clock - C1870Antique Mantel Clock Gilt Ormolu Spelter Jesus & Mary Figural Mantle Clock C1860Amazing Verge Neuchatel Bracket Mantel Clock - Circa 1790 14 Day Dutch StrikingVintage French Style Brass & Handpainted Sevres Style Porcelain Mantle Clock SetComitti Regency Lancet 8 Day Mantel Bracket Clock Franz Hermle Westminster ChimeAntique Seth Thomas "sonora Chimes" Mantle ClockJaeger Lecoultre Skeleton Mantel Clock, 16 Jewels, Swiss Movement Art Deco SleekAntique Mantel Clock Gilt - Antique Sevres Panels French Mantle Clock Circa 1880Exquisite Antique Shell Boulle Mantel Clock French Top Bell Striking Clock C1790Antique Seth Thomas Beehive Mantel Clock "48r" Mahogany Inlay Runs "no Reserve"Lovely Art Deco Smith Chrome & Bakelite Electric Mantel Clock 1930s WorkingFancy 1896 Gilbert Bronze & Beveled Crystal Regulator Mantle Clock No ReserveAntique Bronze Ormolu French Candelabra For Mantel Clock 6 Branch Candle SticksAntique Heavy Slate & Marble French Mantle Clock Thieble Pendulum 8-day Vtg Antique Tape Measure Clock Rare Elgin Mid Century Modern Alarm Space AgeBentima Perivale Westminster Chime Mantle Clock Key & Pendulum See Video Rare Lecoultre Viking Ship Art Deco ClockAmazing Swiss Neuchatel Bracket Mantel Clock - Circa 1960 Hand Painted + BracketVintage 1960s Jaeger Lecoultre & Cie Atmos Swiss Mechanical Movement Brass ClockTop Quality Antique French Bronze & Champleve 4 Glass Regulator Mantel ClockJaeger Lecoultre Atmos Mantle 15j Clock Model ? Sn#422548 Works All The Way19th Century Ormolu Bronze Mantle Clock Angelus Foursome Weather Station Travel Clock, Barometer, Calendar & ThermometerSeth Thomas 6 Column Mantle Clock.----- No Reserve!!! #65Antique Junghans Striking Mantel Clock Antique Clock French 1855 Japy Freres Black Sevres Porcelain Bell Mantle ClockRare Antique Lenzkirch German Wood Mantle / Bracket Alarm Clock 1895Lecoultre Vintage Atmos #311941 Perpetual Motion Clock W/booklet Antique Mantel Clock Ansonia "rosalind" Victorian Ornate Runs " No Reserve "Antique Seth Thomas Mantel Clock Red Adamantine Patd Sept 7 1880 Runs No ReserveAntique French Pillar Mantel Clock -nice Inlay/marble Face- Parts Or Fixing UpAntique 1880 Ansonia Mantle Clock Set 2 Statues Musketeers Don Caesar Don JuanBeautiful Antique Mantel Clock - Gilt Ormolu Ornate French Mantle Clock - C1860Bueche-girod Vintage 30mm Miniature Mechanical Alarm Clock Music Machine WatchAntique Junghans Striking Mantel Clock Lecoultre Cie Atmos Clock 528-6 Caliber 15 Jewels With Square Face No ReserveExquisite Antique Mantel Clock - Gilt Ormolu Ornate French Mantle Clock C1880Onyx Ansonia Mantle Clock, Exposed Escapement, Porcelain Face, Roman NumeralsJunghans Wurttemberg Clock German Chime Antique Wooden Mantel/shelfSchatz & Sohne 3.73 / 8 Day Carriage Clock / 7 Jewel -triple Chime / W-germany Zodiac Art Deco Concord Watch Co Desk Mantel Clock 8 Day Swiss 15j Movement NrAntique 1855 French Vincenti Solid Gilt Pierced Bronze Roccoco 8day Mantle ClockAntique Kroeber Metal Mantel Clock With Beethoven StatueAntique Beautiful Dutch Shelf.mantle Clock - Free Shipping - WarminkAntique New Haven Mantle Clock From The Early 1900's #64Antique Ingraham Mantel Clock T&s Lions Claw Foot Original Finish "no Reserve"New England Clock Co 100% All Original Large Mantle Clock Steeple Runs GreatBeautiful & Stunning Jlc "elysee" Atmos Model 540 Just Cleaned & Serviced Nr!Black Forest Mantle Cuckoo Clock - Late 19th CenturyWonderful Vintage Seth Thomas Triple Chime Mantle Clock 8-day Key Wind, Works !Seth Thomas Adamantine Mantel Clock Black Adamantine With Marbelized Trim1800's Antique Seth Thomas Rosewood Column Mantle Clock No Reserve!

Recent News: Mantel Clocks

Source: Google News

The experts hoping to put names to Yorkshire's unknown remains
Yorkshire Post, January 30th

He had dark brown, collar-length hair, wore a beige, khaki, open-necked shirt, and had in his possession a mantel clock in a brown wooden case, as well as copies of newspapers. Daily Record, printed in Glasgow 09/04/73 - pencilled writing 'Maly palec ...Read more

National touring production of 'Disney's Beauty and the Beast' heading to ...
Deseret News, January 23rd

The Tony was a nod to such creative animation-to-stage transformations as a mantel clock with an actual working clock on the actor's face, a teapot, an ottoman, a dustpan, candlesticks, and corkscrews — all working together to create eye-popping...Read more

Local clock repairer shares 30 years of experience
Lancaster Eagle Gazette, January 20th

CANAL WINCHESTER – "A clock is a clock is a clock," said Joe Clark, a local clock repairer with more than 30 years of experience in restoring new, rare and antique clocks. Clark said clocks are largely the same; once he learned the basic principles of...Read more

Weekly Roundup of eBay Vintage Home Finds
Huffington Post, January 11th

As always, buyer beware! Be sure to read the listings closely and contact the sellers with any questions. Don't miss the 1950s Jacob Hermann carved wood birds, the 1920s French mantel clock set, the hand carved cathedral clock, the 1930s chrome peacock ...Read more

Stephen Jendrysik: Chicopee's Gaylord mansion holds rich history, January 7th

My wife's sister, Mary, purchased a Tiffany & Co. mantel clock. Today, on our living room mantel, I have the cherished souvenir of my visit to the Emerson Gaylord's library. Emerson Gaylord was the son of Josiah and Lucinda Smith Gaylord. He was born...Read more

Keeping things ticking with the Maryland Clock Company
Baltimore Sun, December 5th

Time has been good to Rick and Doris Graham. Married for over four decades, their livelihood spans four centuries. They sell clocks at their family business, the Maryland Clock Company located in Davidsonville, and repair some timekeepers that date as ...Read more

Collectibles: Angle lamp, Chinese cabinet and screen, Ingraham mantel clock ..., 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