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]

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    

Antique 25" Seth Thomas Sonora 4 Bell Chime Mohogany Wall Clock Pat. 1908 N/rAntique Gilbert Calendar Regulator Standard Store School Seth Wall Clock ThomasRare Antique F Kroeber No 182 Jacot Regulator Clock Seth Cast Iron Parlor Thomas Seth Thomas Early Omaha 1886 City Series Fine Antique Cabinet Clock In Walnut Seth Thomas Atomic Starburst Wall Clock Vintage Retro Mid Century Seth Thomas Sonora Chime 8 Bell Antique Clock Early 1900sWwii Seth Thomas U.s. Maritime Commission Ships Bell Clock Dated Jan 1944Antique Adamantine Seth Thomas Mantel / Shelf Clock. 1900 1820 Eli Terry, Seth Thomas Pillar And Scroll Clock, Works!Seth Thomas 4 Bell Sonora Chime Behive Style Mantle ClockSeth Thomas 4 Glass Crystal RegulatorRare Antique Seth Thomas "kent" Oak Wood City Series Mantle Parlor Chime Clock !Seth Thomas Walnut 'lincoln' Case Complete With Label, Gong, Bracket & Pend Ind.Vintage Seth Thomas 7 Jewel Ships Bell Clock & Barometer Working Solid Brass NrOriginal Antique Seth Thomas & Son Statue Clock No 8043 1876 Mitchell Vance & CoWwii Seth Thomas U.s. Maritime Commission Clock Radio Room 6" Silvered DialAntique Seth Thomas Parlor Shelf Clock Parts RepairOriginal Antique Seth Thomas & Son Statue Clock No 8025 1872Antique Ansonia Gingerbread Mantel Kitchen Shelf Clock Seth Wood Thomas ParlorSeth Thomas Adamtine Mantle Clock "attic Find In Old House"!!!Beautiful Marbleized Antique Seth Thomas Mantle Clock No Resv Needs Little HelpAntique French Crystal Regulator Mantel Carriage Clock Thomas Brass Glass SethRare Antique Seth Thomas Mantle Shelf Clock Tambour Westminster Chime VintageAntique Seth Thomas Ships Bell Clock Day Lever Engine 8 Day(pat.1870)works-lookAntique 35" Seth Thomas Oak Regulator Calendar Wall Clock N/rRare Antique Ad Mougin French Beehive Regulator Mantel Clock Seth Parlor ThomasRare Antique Ansonia Cast Iron Figural Mantel Clock Seth Kroeber Parlor ThomasAntique Seth Thomas 8 Day Schoolhouse Regulator Wall Clock, Oak, School House Seth Thomas A 43-002 Movement Chime Mantle Bracket Clock !Rare Antique Seth Thomas Red Adamantine Parlor Clock Shelf Mantel Pillar ScrollAntique Seth Thomas No. 89 Tambour 8 Day Mahogany Footed Shelf Clock N/rAntique St Seth Thomas ? Mantle Clock, As Is, Pendulum, Wind-up No ReserveSeth Thomas Mantle Clock ArnoMid Century Seth Thomas Starburst Sunburst Atomic Wall Clock Vintage Retro Seth Thomas Mantel ClockThree Chime Movement Seth Thomas Mantel Clock 2 Jewels Made Germany WestminsterOld Seth Thomas Clock MovementSeth Thomas Ships Clock With KeyAntique Ca. 1917 Seth Thomas Dundee 8 Day Oak Shelf Mantel Clock ~ RunsRare Seth Thomas Walnut Wood Gold Dial Chime Tambour Mantle Parlor Wall Clock !!Antique Seth Thomas Rosewood Beehive Mantle Bracket Clock, No ReserveSeth Thomas M2 Pocket Watch, 18-size, 15 Jewel, Gold Filled Hunting Case-rf16846Beautiful Antique Seth Thomas Bell Gong Chime Mantle Parlor Clock Rare Model NrAntique American Seth Thomas Sonora Chime Clock No.11 Model Musical Parlor ClockBeautiful Seth Thomas Mantle Clock Inlaid Wood & Porcelain Dial - L@@k!Antique Seth Thomas Oak Mantel Clock RareAntique Seth Thomas 8 Day Time Strike Mantle ClockSeth Thomas #124 8 Day 1/4 Hr Westminster Front Chime Control Mantel Clock W/keyAntique Seth Thomas Parlor Shelf Clock Parts RepairRare Antique Seth Thomas Red Adamantine Parlor Clock Shelf Mantel Pillar ScrollSeth Thomas Triple Chime Bracket Clock Wwii Seth Thomas U.s. Maritime Commission Clock 6" Silvered DialVintage World War Ii Seth Thomas Ship ClockSeth Thomas Westminster Strike & Chime Medbury 6w Mantle ClockBrass Weight For Antique American Clock (seth Thomas/waterbury/gilbert Etc)Old Antique Seth Thomas Brass Wall Clock Circa 1876Mcm Sunburst / Starburst Atomic Clock Lot Of 4, Welby / Seth Thomas / ElginSeth Thomas Clock Movement Regulator Schoolhouse Parlor WallSeth Thomas M 282 Pocket Watch, 18-size, 17 Jewels, Open Face - Rf16847Seth Thomas Antique Mantle Clock Rare 15 Minute Strike 100% All Original!

Recent News: Seth Thomas Clocks

Source: Google News

Groundbreaking scheduled for courthouse clock improvements
The Cass County Democrat, July 24th

The Cass County Courthouse clock should be keeping time again within the next year. The Cass County Historical Society, in partnership with the Cass County Commission, will be conducting a groundbreaking ceremony at 11 a.m. Thursday, July 31, for the...Read more

This week in print – A glance at the past
Moultrie News, July 24th

In 1981, the antique store was owned by Linda and her brother Michael. She told ... Eight years prior to this story on the front page of the Moultrie News, Carl Page bought a large Seth Thomas Street Clock in Pennsylvania, originally from McGee Museum...Read more

7-18 Community Calendar
The Cass County Democrat, July 17th

Written appraisals on new and antique quilts are $45. Verbal appraisals on antique quilts only are $25. Walk-ins will be accepted if there are no ... The Cass County Historical Society, in partnership with the Cass County Commission, will be hosting a...Read more

Clock doctor has a timeless profession
New Jersey Hills, July 15th

During a Friday, June 27 presentation on antique clocks inside of a pre-Revolutionary War-era barn at the Readington Museum's Bouman-Stickney Farmstead, Ridder examined clocks and quickly identified the name of the manufacturer, the year it was made...Read more

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

“They couldn't change the press when they made the movements so they're all still stamped 'Plymouth.' Just about all the Seth Thomas clocks that I have say both 'Thomaston' and 'Plymouth,'” explained Tom, who attends Waterbury Art Magnet School...Read more