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 Seth Thomas Mantle Clock Carved Mahogany Case Beautiful LeavesSeth Thomas Fashion #2 Style Calendar Clock With Original KeySeth Thomas Sonora Chime Antique Mantle Clock Chimes On 4 Tuned Bells Runs GreatRare Black Pillars Seth Thomas Shasta Adamantine Mantle Clock Bell & Gong ChimeAntique Rare Seth Thomas 1913 Fleet Series # 2 8 Day Shelf Clock Working WellBeautiful Seth Thomas 8 Day Red Adamantine Mantle Clock 18851902 Seth Thomas New Long Model Alarm Clock W Ornate Case Runs GoodSeth Thomas Ships Watch Eight Bell Chiming ClockAntique Seth Thomas Shelf Mantel Clock Beautiful!!-restored-- Nr.877Antique Seth Thomas Ornate Alarm Ornate Bronze Mantle Shelf Clock Parts / RepairSeth Thomas Oak Case 1885 Striking Mantel ClockAntique Seth Thomas Mantle Clock 5-rod Westminster Chime 124 Movement 8 DayWw2 Usn Us Navy Ships Sea Clock Seth Thomas Bakelite 100% WorkingSeth Thomas Brass Engine Lever Ship's Ship ClockAntique Miniature Seth Thomas Og Ogee Shelf Mantel Clock Circa Mid 1860'sSeth Thomas Eight Day Brass ClockStunning Early 18s Seth Thomas 7j Kwks Coin Silver Pocket Watch - (n29)Rare Antique Seth Thomas Octagonal Hanging Wall Clock Working VintageAntique Seth Thomas "sucile" 1904 Column Mantel Clock Working Well Ornate Large Seth Thomas Adamantine Mantel ClockAntique Seth Thomas Adamantine Mantel Clock Case Parts Repair* Rare C1894 Seth Thomas Grade 206 Model 8, 18s 15j In Working OrderSeth Thomas Ball-top Eclipse TopperSeth Thomas Dramascene Pendulum Bob - Very RareSeth Thomas Banjo Style Wall Clock Antique Excellent ConditionAntique Seth Thomas Statue Mantel Clock 100% All Original! Runs Great!Unusal Two Tone Brass & Copper Seth Thomas Crystal Regulator Seth Thomas Rare Lafayette 1928 Fine Antique Cabinet Clock In Mahogany & Burl Vintage Seth Thomas Miniature Banjo Wall Clock Seth Thomas Rare Lowell Fine Antique Cabinet Clock In Mahogany And Burl Inlay Old 1800s Seth Thomas Column Cottage Lg Shelf Mantle Clock Case PartsRestored Seth Thomas Adamantine Mantel ClockSeth Thomas Brass Crystal Regulator Circa 1915Seth Thomas White Adamantine Mantel ClockAntique Seth Thomas Adamantine Mantel Clock Case Parts RepairAntique Walnut Seth Thomas Steeple Parlor Shelf Clock Parts RepairSeth Thomas 18 Size 15 Jewel Pocket Watch. Gold Filled Full Hunter Case!!Seth Thomas Antique Adamantine Mantle Clock 100% Original Beautiful Runs GreatAntique Seth Thomas 89c Mantel Shelf Clock Movement Parts RepairRare C1915 Arts & Crafts Seth Thomas Owl Alarm Metal Mantle Balloon Clock MasksAntique Seth Thomas Mantle Clock Dial And BezelJ.m. Paterson Hamilton Canada West, Made By Seth Thomas 30 Hour Column ClockAntique Seth Thomas 8 1/4 Kitchen Clock Movement With Alarm Parts RepairAntique Vintage Seth Thomas 6 Pillar Adamantine Mantel ClockAntique Seth Thomas 3 5/8 Kitchen Clock Movement Parts RepairAntique Seth Thomas Clock Weight Ogee Half Column Movement Parts Repair Seth Thomas Figural Spelter Clock Mother & Child For Parts Restore As ShownAntique Seth Thomas Adamatine Mantle Clock - Basement FindSeth Thomas Mantle Clock Movement (4 1/2)Antique Seth Thomas 89c Mantel Shelf Clock Movement Parts RepairVintage Seth Thomas Miniature Banjo Wall ClockAntique Seth Thomas ClockAntique Miniature Seth Thomas Shelf Clock1890 Seth Thomas Brown Adamatine Mantle ClockAntique Seth Thomas Og Weight Driven Clock Case Parts RepairSeth Thomas "dover" Walnut Antique ClockSeth Thomas Cottage Clock 1860's - 1870's With Brazilian Rosewood CaseAntique Iron Seth Thomas Clock/alarm Turn Of The CenturyAntique Seth Thomas Mantle Clock Columns With Capitals And BasesSeth Thomas Sonora Chime Clock

Recent News: Seth Thomas Clocks

Source: Google News

Auction watch: Sales slow for summer, but values remain plentiful
Tribune-Review, July 26th

This night and day affair opens with a 5 p.m. sale loaded with collections of collectibles on the evening of July 31 and hits a high note the next morning with an auction packed with antique musicboxes, clocks and glassware. The July 31 sale features...Read more

Historic Fort Monroe post office gets makeover
Daily Press, July 23rd

at Ingalls and Fenwick roads in a building identifiable by its red brick and clock tower. The authority had operated out of a building inside the stone citadel's moat known as Old Quarters One in a building that will eventually be transferred to...Read more

Time well spent: Clockmaker cherishes stories from each timepiece
Hickory Daily Record, July 21st

HICKORY – A modern-day Geppetto, David Pendley spends his days surrounded by clocks of all types and description. He spends almost two hours twice a year honoring Ben Franklin by springing forward or falling back until his last clock is set...Read more

No raining on this parade!
Foster's Daily Democrat, July 20th

The Paul Revere Bell chimed the hour as Golden described the Tiffany windows, serving as a timely reminder to mention the church?s Seth-Thomas clock. Visitors from near and far were reminded to sign the guest book and records show a ... Beal?s other...Read more

Home of the Week: A kinetic home of sculptures and global memories, July 17th

A house filled with memories of a romance begun in Peru, with a wedding in Turkey. See photos and video. Couple's love led them around the world – their travels are on display in their home. See photos and vid. As a 14-year-old, Rosario dreamed one...Read more

Collectors seek milk glass with hens, squirrels, cows, July 14th

Question: My mom and dad were married in 1943. They received several pieces of milk glass as wedding presents and I inherited them. I have no intention of selling them but would like to know more about this type of glass and if it is considered...Read more

Courthouse clocks fully functional for first time in years
Daily Journal Online, July 11th

After several months of cleaning, repairing and synchronizing the four large Seth Thomas clocks, all four were back in working order sometime around Christmas of 2003. But without any kind of ongoing maintenance agreement for upkeep, the clocks stopped ...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