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 Bronze & Sevres Style Porcelain 3 Piece 8 Day Mantle Clock Garniture SetHarding & Bazeley Mantel Clock - Rolling Ball Sinclair Harding Clock - ClocksSeth Thomas Antique Large Gilt Mantle Clock 100% All Original Runs Great! Vintage Jaeger Lecoultre Atmos Barometric Driven 15j Mantle Shelf ClockAntique French Serves Type Porcelain Panel Gilt Striking Mantel Clock On Bell Stunning 1920s French Art Deco Nude Lady & Dog Mantel Clock With Garnitures1950's Art Deco Glass And Bakelite 8-day Mantle Clock By Smiths. WorkingLarge Boulle Clock - French Shell & Inlay Mantel Clock - Antique ClocksAntique Junghans Inlaid Mahogany Mantle Bracket Clock W/ Chimes, No Reserve!Antique Ansonia Mantel Clock Rosewood Weight Driven Original Finish"no Reserve"Vtg Lecoultre # 65310 Tuxedo Atmos Perpetual 15 Jewels Mantle Shelf Clock NpaFarcot Mantel Clock - Swinging Dole Clock - Antique ClocksStriking Carriage Clock - Repeat Mantel Clock - Antique ClocksVintage Rare Schatz 400 Day Anniversary Dome Clock Green Enamel Brass GermanyShakspear Mantel Clock - French Ormolu Empire Clock Case - Antique ClocksMusical Mantel Clock - Westminster Chime 5 Gong Bracket Clock - Antique ClocksVintage 1960's Swiss Jaeger Lecoultre 444 Square Skeleton Desk Clock 16j Gwo McmAntique Seth Thomas Mantle Clock Working Lion / GriffinsFancy Antique Ansonia Pompeii Iron Mantel Shelf Clock W/ Egyptian Ibises NrGorgeous Ansonia Circa 1850's Cast Iron Mantel Clock In Excellent Condition!Antique 11" Mantle Clock Case & 3.5" Dial - Alabaster - French -w/top Trophy/cupSevres Mantel Clock - French Gilt Clock - Antique Clocks19th C French Japy Freres White Marble & Sevres Porcelain 8 Day Mantle ClockJob Lot Of Antique Clocks - Collection Of Antique Mantel Clocks - Antique ClocksBeautiful! 1950 Jaeger Lecoultre *519* Atmos Mantel Clock- Working!Antique Clock -19th C French Japy Freres Gilt Bronze Cubed 8 Day Mantle ClockBeautiful Jaeger Lecoultre Atmos Clock Just Cleaned, Serviced & Timed No Res!Antique French 1880s Japy Freres Marble Mantle Or Shelf Clock Repair Or PartsAntique French Striking Mantel Clock Beautiful Antique French Gilt & Marble Classical Figural Mantle Clock Under DomeWaterbury #10 Eight Day Ship's Bell Clock - Nice Heavy Brass CaseVintage French Portico Mantel Clock Quality Antique French Mystery 8 Day Oscillator & Cherub Figural Mantle ClockAntique Tiffany Mantel Clock With French Movement 1860 Large Size Rare Antique Seth Thomas Walnut Burl Wood Beehive Westminster Chime Mantle ClockAntique Clock -19thc French Marti Marble & Gilt Ormolu Bronze 8 Day Mantle ClockBeautiful! Early 1980's Jaeger Lecoultre Round Dial Atmos Clock- Works!Beautiful Antique French Gilt Metal & Pink Sevres Cherub Figural Mantel ClockTiffany & Co Mantel Clock - French Ormolu 4 Glass Clock - Antique ClocksPetite Boulle Clock - French Shell & Inlay Mantel Clock - Antique Clocks1950's Art Deco Chrome And Bakelite 8-day Desk Mantle Clock By Smiths. WorkingAntique Chelsea Clock Co. Mahogany "chippendale" Bracket Striking Mantel ClockAmerican New Haven Westminster Chime Mantle Clock Vintage Jaeger Le Coultre Atmos Model 540 13 Jewels V.g. Cond. Works! Clean!60s Howard Miller Table Clock-arthur Umanoff-nelson Era-ex!-nr!Vintage Art Deco Luxor Blue Warren Telechron Mirror Clock Shelf MantelAntique Boulle Mantel Clock Antique French Marble Pillar Mantel Shelf Clock Parts RepairAntique Ingraham Gingerbread Kitchen Or Mantle Clock, Circa 1915 Working GreatAntique Vintage French Brass Carriage Mantel Clock 8 Day & Key Depose Ab Paris(2) Antique Victorian Era Mantle Clock Statue Figural Greek Man & Lady SculptureWalnut Mantel Clock - Maple Eye Walnut Boulle Clock - Antique ClocksSevres Mantel Clock - Ormolu & Porcelain Clock - Antique ClocksAntique Seth Thomas Adamantine Marbelized Case/onyx Trim Mantle Clock~works! YqzGreat Working Condition Antique Seth Thomas Mantle Clock Pat. 1880 Antique French Gilt Striking Mantel Clock , Marble Base Vintage Old Antique 400 Day Jahresuhrenfabrik Torsion Anniversary Mantle ClockSkeleton Mantel Clock - Franz Hermle Mantel Clock - Antique ClocksVintage Gilbert Curfew 8 Day Mantle Clock With Large External Brass Bell On TopSeth Thomas Mantle Clock Arno

Recent News: Mantel Clocks

Source: Google News

Auction Systems Auctioneers & Appraisers Inc to Host American Life Auction in ...
Consumer Electronics Net, July 30th

Casio LK-160 electric keyboard with stand, Daniel Dakota Westminster Chime mantel clock, Lladro boy soccer player porcelain figurine, Orrefors signed crystal bowl, four boxes of collectible baseball cards, Samsung HT-DS610 DVD home theater system, ...Read more

Pickin' in Pa by Ellen Geisel Time is relative!
Boyertown Berk Montgomery Newspapers, July 29th

If you are fortunate enough to have an antique grandfather's clock, a gold pocket watch, a cuckoo clock from the Black Forest in Germany or a mantel clock passed down to you from an older relative, take good care of it! Whenever I hear an old clock...Read more

Marking Time
Bangalore Mirror, July 13th

My father manufactured the parts,re-assembled the clock in 30 days and took it to Delhi where he presented the working Mantel Clock to its owner, the Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi. He charged only `3000 for the job" says Syed Mahmood "but Mrs...Read more

Terryville resident's antique clocks on exhibit
Bristol Press, July 12th

PLYMOUTH — Tom Vaughn became interested in clocks when he was 14 and began tinkering with an old broken timepiece in his family's living. He bought new parts for it but still couldn't get it to work, so he found the same model online and bought it for...Read more

Finalists announced for VIVID emerging design competition
Architecture and Design, July 3rd

Vibrant Vision in Design (VIVID) will return to Decor + Design from 10 July to 13 July 2014 with over 80 innovative pieces by 58 shortlisted designers to be put on display at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre, Southbank. Once again, VIVID 2014 will give...Read more

Auction Systems Auctioneers & Appraisers Inc. to Host "5th of July Auction" in ...
PR Newswire (press release), July 1st

Courtship International set of two sterling candle holders, Velocity Micro Cruz Reader tablet with charger, Jane Wooster Scott pencil signed "School Days" matted and framed serigraph, decorative Samurai sword, Antique style mantel clock featuring...Read more