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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Fine art sale attracts international bidders
Driffield Today, September 18th

A rosewood cased mercury barometer sold for £100 and an Edwardian inlaid mahogany mantel clock £110. Furniture buyers were very selective with the highest price of £1,450 for a Victorian walnut credenza. Two modern cabinetmaker lots, an eight piece ...Read more

Brice Stump: With antiques, memories are what matter
Delmarva Daily Times, September 13th

It seems, when their parents or grandparents passed and their houses were cleaned out, one of the dearest things family members wanted to take home was the mantel clock, the mixing bowls, rolling pin, grandmother's dishes, carnival glass and those ...Read more

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????????????????????(Longcase Clock)???(Wall Clock)????(Mantel Clock)???(Table Clock)????????????????????????????????????????????...Read more

Oak furniture goes under the hammer in Shrewsbury, September 4th

Similar examples of both feature in Bebb's book, with all three pieces believed to originate in Carmarthenshire, Cardiganshire and Brecknock. A potential individual star lot will be a mid-19th century French gilt bronze figural mantel clock by E...Read more

Rhode Island Auction
Maine Antique Digest, August 28th

A large English gilt brass mantel clock fetched $1680. A gimbaled stick barometer sold for $1560 to the trade, and a dressing stand and mirror with a fitted interior with drawers was also sold to the trade for $600. A tole box went to the phones for...Read more

The time lords
St. Albert Gazette, August 22nd

The shorts are seasonal, he adds. Inside, a treated patient – a dollop-shaped dark brown mantel clock – happily ticks away alongside other broken models awaiting repair. It and about a half-dozen other clocks sound a cacophony of chimes every hour...Read more

Bygones: Market Hall was always interesting
Derby Telegraph, August 19th

I still have the mantel clock presented to him by his fellow butchers. My father was a licensed timekeeper for the British Boxing Board of Control. The Market Hall was a very interesting place. Under the Guildhall arches I recall the Monks family who...Read more