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]

Clockhistory.com

Clockhistory.com

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    

Eli Terry Jr 8 Day W/alarm Antique Mantle Clock Original Beautiful/runs Great!Antique 8 Day Striking Carriage Clock - Gorge 1 Piece Case Carriage Mantel ClockLawson Digital Clock Zephyr-p 40-304-machine Age-art Deco-moderne-kem Weber EraExquisite Antique Green Shell Boulle Mantel Clock French Striking Coiled GongAntique Royal Bonn Porcelain Ansonia Mantle Clock W/ Open Escapement MovementKroeber No. 10 Antique Cast Iron Shelf, Mantel Clock (courtland St. New York…)French Antique Art Deco Mirror Glass & Chrome Mantle Alarm Clock Dep SavoyAntique French Architectural Black Marble Slate Mantel Clock Bronze Ormolu MountAntique Stone Case Mantel Clock With French External Escapement Movement PartsRare Unusual Antique 8 Day French Ornate Marble, Bronze & Champleve Mantel ClockAntique Rare Lf & Ww Carter Calendar Clock Double Dial Shelf Mantel Clock 8 DayRare Carved 8 Day French Carriage Clock - Fret Work Cased Carriage Mantel ClockAntique Art Nouveau Crystal Regulator Clock Waterbury Co. Mantle Shelf BeautifulAntique Mantel Clock Disk Pendulm Clock For Spares Repair Spring Ok 360 Day Torsion Mantel Clock - Anniversary Year Going Table Clock - German MadeSmall Antique Hand Painted Miniature French Porcelain Mantle Clock, NrAntique American Clock Co Regulating Mantle Clock W/ Spelter Irish Setter DogSeth Thomas Adamantine 4 Column Mantel/shelf ClockAntique Style Louis Xv German Franz Hermle Mantel Clock Garniture & CandelabraAwesome Antique French Bronze Clock - 19thc Ormolu & Champleve Mantel ClockAntique W & H Winterhalder & Hofmeier, Ting Tang, Bracket, Mantle ClockSuperb Antique French Bronze Mantel Clock Embossed Clock With Ornate DesignsAntique Seth Thomas Mantel Clock Eastlake Style W Columns Painted Wood GrainAntique Rare Ansonia "quality" 1880 Walnut Shelf Parlor Clock Working Well 8 DayAntique French Drum Head Walnut Ebonised Chiming Mantle Clock C1870Antique Ansonia Victorian Rococo Nouveau Bronze Cherub Mantel Shelf Clock YqzAntique Old Vintage Platform Escapement Carriage Clock / Mantle Clock No KeyAntique Vtg Ansonia Clock Company Queen Green Onyx Mantle ClockAntique Eli Terry & Sons Pillar & Scroll Shelf Mantel Clock 19th C. WorkingAntique Seth Thomas Black Gold Marble Adamantine Mantle Clock Antique German Carved Bracket Clock - 19thc Architectual Lancet Top Mantel ClockAntique French Architectural Black Slate Bronze Mantel Clock - Rare Movement1930s Telechron Blue Mirror And Chrome Desk Clock --just ServicedAntique Ingraham Crusader Mantel Clock Eight Day Clock Made In Bristol ConnAntique 19th C French Gilt Bronze Mantle Clock With Stunning Sevres PorcelainAntique 1830's French Empire Paris Porcelain Mantle Clock &base By Raingo FreresLarge Antique Swiss Louis Xvi Style French Boulle Style Mantel Clock Needs Help!Unusual 400 Day Anniversary Clock ~ German By Kern & Sohne ~ Wood Base DecoVintage 1950s Art Deco Numechron Working Digital Old Clock Antique Mid Century Seth Thomas Adamantine Mantel ClockAntique French Architectural Black Marble Slate Mantel Clock - Malachite MarbleHoward Miller 612-436 Thomas Tompion Triple Chime Mantel ClockHammond Gregory Skyscraper Art Deco Style Bakelite Clock W/ Day & Date 19311973 Warmink Dutch Bracket Mantel Clock 10.6 Inch Moon Dial Double BellsFabulous Miniature Antique Black Forest Cottage Mantle Clock C1900Jaeger Lecoultre Atmos Clock Shelf Clock 528 Ser Number 190,831 Works GreatStunning Antique French Empire Bronze Ormolu Horse & Rider Figural Mantel ClockAmazing Vintage Antique Strikes Chime And Alarm Seth Thomas Usa Clock WorkingRare Antique German Junghans Hac Alarm House Mantel Clock Art Deco Machine Age Butterscotch Catalin Electric Clock Mcclintock Co. Runs NrAntique 1880 Victorian Seth Thomas Adamantine 21 Jewel Shelf Mantle Clock W KeyAntique French Japy Freres Figural Mantel Clock Movement Dial Parts RepairAntique Victorian Bronzed Spelter & Onyx Old Pillar Style Mantel Gilbert ClockLawson Clock -cubist Block Design -attributed To Kem WeberRare Antique Hac Weather Station Desk/mantle Clock C1912Vintage Chrome Art Deco Telechron " Luxor " ClockAntique 19thc French Mougin Solid Brass 8 Day Bell Striking Figural Mantle ClockVintage Kienzle 400 Day Anniversary - Bandstand Clock - 1950 Nice ExampleWarmink Vintage Dutch Nut Wood Bracket Mantel Clock Moon Phase Silent Option1872 Seth Thomas Sons & Co. Mantel Shelf Clock, Brass Movement, Works, With Key

Recent News: Mantel Clocks

Source: Google News

At Santo Trafficante auction, a chance to buy a piece of Tampa's mob history
Tampabay.com, January 27th

Among the "stuff'' up for bid will be crystal chandeliers, several Oriental rugs, an unopened 1975 bottle of Dom Perignon champagne, a pair of still lifes purchased at a Gasparilla art show and Trafficante's favorite mantel clock. Magnani's own...Read more

Two friends celebrate a very special anniversary together at PSWS
Penn State Worthington Scranton, January 26th

Then and now: on top, Marilee Mulvey and Lynne Fazio pose near a display they created shortly after they started working at PSWS in 1990. At bottom, Marilee and Lynne receive their 25-year PSU chairs, commemorating their landmark anniversary...Read more

Weekly Roundup of eBay Vintage Home Finds
Huffington Post, January 18th

Don't miss the pair of Warren Platner chairs, the 1970s Chapman lamp, the Navajo rug, the vintage spool rack, the French mantel clock, the 1960s Martin H. Miller photograph, the antique set of Windsor armchairs, the 1972 Alexander Calder signed...Read more

In Watches, Coming Events
International New York Times, January 17th

includes more than 100 exhibits — among them, timepieces such as a lady's platinum, gold and diamond pendant watch, a man's gold and sapphire pocket watch and fob, and a gilt bronze mantel clock — owned by the city's wealthiest residents during...Read more

Art Movements
Hyperallergic, January 15th

Art Movements is a weekly collection of news, developments, and stirrings in the art world. Two works were censored at Apres Charlie (After Charlie), a show at the French Institute in Tel Aviv that marked the anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo killings...Read more

Grundy County employees recognized for service
Morris Daily Herald, January 13th

Craig Cassem, Grundy County engineer, was recognized by Grundy County Highway Committee Chairman Eric Rasmusson for 25 years of service and was given a pin, certificate and mantel clock. Cassem then announced those from the Highway ...Read more

Preserving time: Clock repairman brings skills to Maryville
Maryville Daily Times, January 11th

His love of tinkering came in handy after he and his wife Kathy married and he found an old mantel clock among her belongings. It had been in her family and was taken apart at some point but never put back together. All of the pieces were there in the...Read more

Maplewood Kids Star in Beauty & the Beast Jr. at The Woodland January 22, 23 & 24
The Village Green, January 9th

With the help of the castle's enchanted staff, including a loving teapot, a charming candelabra, and a nervous mantel clock, Belle and the Beast find a beautiful friendship and love that neither knew was possible. Beauty and the Beast JR. features...Read more