Seth Thomas (1785-1859) began his clockmaking career in 1807 as an apprentice to renowned clockmaker Eli Terry. In 1810, he bought Terry’s Connecticut factory and began making tall clocks with wooden movements.

Thomas added wooden-movement shelf and mantel clocks in 1817. The first of these had pillar-and-scroll cases, usually with a scene painted on the bottom third of the case below the clock’s face. Around 1830, antique Seth Thomas mantel clocks were frequently framed in carved mahogany.

Brass movements replaced wooden ones in 1842 (wood was phased out entirely in 1845), which was also the first year that Thomas made mantel clocks with ogee cases—the style was produced until 1913.

Though an innovator when it came to production techniques and business, Thomas was rather conservative when it came to the appearance of his clocks. So, after his death in 1859, Thomas' sons were quick to introduce new clock styles—from handsome wall clocks to regulators to spring-driven clocks to clocks with calendars.

Of the calendar clocks, the Seth Thomas antique wall clocks for kitchens were particularly popular. One early double-dial calendar clock made shortly after the founders’ death had a rosewood-veneer case that came to points at the top and bottom to earn itself the nickname of "Peanut." Walnut kitchen clocks were produced from 1884 to 1909.

One of the toughest competitors for U.S. clockmakers in the second half of the 19th century were the French, whose clocks cased in onyx and marble were all the rage. In response, U. S. manufacturers made clocks that resembled those of the French, except instead of marble, they made their cases from less expensive iron or wood.

Thomas responded to the French challenge with its own line of marble clocks (1887 to 1895) and iron clocks finished in black enamel (1892 to 1895). But the Thomas response that i...

Adamantine was a veneer developed by the Celluloid Manufacturing Company—Thomas licensed the veneer because it could be produced in black, white, and a variety of patterns to replicate the look of wood, onyx, and, most importantly, marble. The Seth Thomas Adamantine mantel clocks were popular enough to remain in production until 1917.

Another trend from the late 19th century was the practice of naming a clock after international cities. Thomas did that, too, using names like Milan, Genoa, and Naples to evoke the style of a particular clock. Thomas also had a City Series of clocks named after U.S. cities. The Atlanta clock, for example, had a rosewood case with gilt details and a glass door that had been etched in a leaf pattern. Even Utica got its own clock. The City Series was produced for roughly 40 years.

Thomas clocks were also named after presidents (Lincoln, Garfield) and royalty (Victoria). Others were named after universities, from Cambridge to Cornell.

In the 20th century, Thomas introduced its first tambour clock in 1904. The low, wide profile of these mantel clocks made them perfect above fireplaces. Chime clocks followed in 1909, and electric clocks were added to the company’s catalog in 1928.

Of the pre-war, 1930s Thomas clocks, the Art Deco alarm clocks (wind up or electric) made of a colored plastic called Catalin are highly collectible. Unlike Bakelite, which was opaque due to its fillers of sawdust or carbon, Catalin is transparent, which made it easy to mix with dyes to produce rich colors. It could even be marbleized, which, for Thomas, recalled the company’s Adamantine clocks produced just a few decades earlier.

Key terms for Antique and Vintage Seth Thomas Clocks:

Ogee: A type of molding whose profile resembles an S-shape curve.

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    

Seth Thomas 8 Day Perpetual Calendar Clock--month, Date And Day--thomaston, ConnC 1880 Seth Thomas #2 Oak Weight Driven Regulator Clock Signed Works Orig LabelVintage Seth Thomas Pendulum BobSeth Thomas Candle Stick Clock Circa 1875Antique Seth Thomas No.68 Weight Regulator Clock Movement - CompleteRare Original 8 Day Seth Thomas Wall Clock - 8 Day Ogee Wall Clock Painted PanelVintage Seth Thomas Heavy Brass Nautical Ships Bell Clock W Wood Stand18s, Ls, Of, Seth Thomas 21j, Railroad Pw, Massive Sterling Silver CaseCa. 1900 Antique Victorian Era Seth Thomas Hanging School House Old Wall ClockAntique Seth Thomas Ships' ClockHuge Lot Of Vintage Antique Clock Pendulums Bobs-seth Thomas Sessions WaterburyAuthentic Vintage Seth Thomas Brass Ships Bell Clock With Outside Bell Made UsaSeth Thomas Lion's Head Adamantine Mantle Clock " Working "Old Seth Thomas 89 Mantle Shelf Clock Movement Clock Parts W/ Pendulum Seth Thomas 18 Size 15 Jewel Beautiful 2-tone Model 5 Pocket Watch MvtAntique Seth Thomas Adamantine Mantle Clock Feb 1894 **to Restore** Seth Thomas 1865 Shelf Clock With Transitional Movement/caseAntique Seth Thomas Adamantine Mantle Clock Dated 1880 Seth Thomas Beautiful Original Painted Full Column Case ClockAntique Seth Thomas Adamantine Clock 6 Pillars, Lions, Claw Feet - Working 19thcFully Restored Seth Thomas Mantel Clock Black Adamantine Marbelized Trim 1890Antique Seth Thomas Adamantine 8-day Time & Strike Mantle ClockSeth Thomas Mantle Clock For RepairVintage Seth Thomas Mantle ClockSeth Thomas Mantel Clock Westminster ChimesSeth Thomas Mantle Clock Movement (4 1/2) With GongSeth Thomas 8 Day Weight Clock--thomaston, Conn. Antique Seth Thomas Adamantine Mantle Clock " Beautiful & Restored -1891"Rare Antique Seth Thomas C1882 Adamantine Mantle 4 Column W/lion Heads & Key Wwii Era U.s. Navy Seth Thomas Deck Clock Running ConditionAntique Seth Thomas Early 1865 "octagon Top" Rosewood Shelf Clock 8 Day Works Seth Thomas Mantel Clock DialSeth Thomas 1885-1890 Adamantine Mantle ClockAntique Seth Thomas Open Escapement Clock Movement Porcelain Dial Bezel PartsAntique White Seth Thomas Mantel Clock W Lion Handles AdamantineAntique Seth Thomas Oak Wood 8 Day School House ClockAntique Seth Thomas 89 Mantel Shelf Clock Movement Parts RepairSeth Thomas Double Column Adamantine Mantle ClockSeth Thomas Sonora Chime 4 Bells Antique Clock-circa 1915-model16-westministerSeth Thomas Exeter-w Model E538-001 Bracket Style Clock Works!1885 Seth Thomas Column Weight Clock--thomaston, Conn. Antique Seth Thomas Adamantine Mantel Clock Case Made In UsaSeth Thomas Mantle ClockAntique Seth Thomas Adamantine Mantel Clock – C1900 - Running - Estate, GorgeousRare Seth Thomas Mahogany Wood Mantle Beehive Cathedral Chime Parlor City Clock Antique Seth Thomas Mantle Clock Movement For Parts #14 Antique Seth Thomas Small Wooden Self Clock-as Is-restoration Or PartsVintage Seth Thomas 48n Key Wind Movement & 4.5" DialAntique Seth Thomas Long Drop 8-day MovementSeth Thomas No. 2 American Wall Clock Dial Antique OriginalAntique Seth Thomas Regulator Clock Dial - Weight DrivenOld Seth Thomas Mantel/shelf Clock- Time And Strike- VgcMahogany Seth Thomas Smith Patterson Mantle Shelf Wood Dome Top Clock ~ "as Is"Seth Thomas Catalin Bakelite Art Deco Alarm Clock Black With Gold Swirl NiceVintage Seth Thomas Wood Metronome E899-575 1ss-1 De Maelzel Music Timer ToolSeth Thomas Mantel Clock CaseSeth Thomas Mantel Clock MovementSeth Thomas Adamantine Dial Glass BezelSeth Thomas Column Og Clock With StrikeAntique Seth Thomas Adamantine Mantle Clock Ornamentation, Statuesque Working

Recent News: Seth Thomas Clocks

Source: Google News

117-year-old clock, bell to go home
Post-Bulletin, June 30th

The Central Fire Station clock and bell were originally installed on the south side of Fourth Street and South Broadway Avenue in 1898. The Seth Thomas clock was a primary timepiece for the city, and the 1,200-pound bell sounded the alarm for firefighters...Read more

Rare antique lamps, clocks, coin-ops and more will be at Fontaine's three ...
ArtfixDaily, June 15th

One is a Pennsylvania tall case clock, 105 inches tall, having a 14-inch painted iron dial with center seconds sweep and a pendulum signed and dated “L. Masgreave, 1797.” The other is a Seth Thomas off-center pillar and scroll clock with inside/outside ...Read more

Family clock repair business stands the tests of timepieces
Charleston Gazette, May 30th

The couple was aided in their decision by the fact that it's harder and harder to find someone who can fix classic old clocks like those made by Seth Thomas, Waterbury and Ansonia, not to mention the wide variety of cuckoo clocks that come into the...Read more

Clock collector donates more than time to Cleveland church (photos)
cleveland.com, May 14th

You can't miss the first gift because it is an accurate, operating clock in the steeple, a Seth Thomas installed in 1896. The second gift will be more ... The new one will have 1,892 pipes, where the old one had no more than 500, he said. Del Greco and...Read more

Tiffany scenic leaded window and lamps, plus Howard & Davis and Seth ...
ArtfixDaily, May 12th

PITTSFIELD, Mass. – A one-of-a-kind Howard & Davis astronomical regulator clock and a rare Seth Thomas No. 20 standing regulator clock with Grande Sonnerie strike and repeat could both reach or surpass $100,000 at a cataloged antique auction ...Read more

Antique wall clocks targeted by thieves at Northwest Fresno law firms
ABC30.com, March 16th

The criminals didn't stay inside the buildings long. The victims say they broke through the door and went right for the antiques on the wall. Attorney Michael Margosian's office wall now has an empty spot that used to house an antique Seth Thomas No. 2...Read more

Antiques & Collectibles: Seth Thomas regulator clock a timeless favorite
Press of Atlantic City, March 6th

Question: What can you tell me about an old oak wall clock left in an office building I recently ac-quired? It is 37 inches long, 16 inches wide and 5½ inches deep with a brass pendulum and weight. Its metal dial is painted white, has Roman numerals, a...Read more

Street clock coming home: City to buy historic timepiece, install it in ...
GazetteNET, January 25th

Photo courtesy of the Northampton Office of Planning and Sustainability The city is buying this Seth Thomas clock, which stood at the corner of Main Street and Strong Avenue from 1910 to 1996, with plans to having it restored and reinstalled next year...Read more