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    

Antique Seth Thomas Adamantine Mantel / Shelf Clock W/ Lions HeadsAntique Seth Thomas Clock Adamantine Mantel 8 Day Model Berri RestoredSeth Thomas Woodworks Column And Splat ClockTop Off A Seth Thomas Wood Works Pillar & Scroll Clock W/3 Solid Brass FinialsAntique Seth Thomas Adamantine Chiming Mantle Clock No. 260Seth Thomas Office Calendar No. 6 Oak Double Dial Calendar Clock -- OriginalAntique Seth Thomas "column" Model 8 Day Time Strike Parlor Clock Antique Seth Thomas Mantel Clock, Bronze And BrassLarge Seth Thomas Adamantine Mantel Clock(milo)Antique Seth Thomas 8 Day Time Strike Mantle Clock Henley Circa 1915Antique 19th C Seth Thomas Office #5 Lobby Gallery Regulator Wall Clock Rare 23"Antique Seth Thomas Nautical Ships Clock Wood Brass Vintage Ww2 Made In Usa Antique Seth Thomas Plymouth George Washington Banjo Clock 8 Day Time & StrikeAntique Seth Thomas Westminister Chimes Like Sonora Gothic Style Mantel ClockBeautiful Seth Thomas Mantle Clock 8-day Key Wind W/ Westminster Chimes, Works !1876 Seth Thomas Parlor Calendar Clock #3Antique Black Seth Thomas Admantine Mantle Clock - Mfg. March 1902Antique American Seth Thomas "ideal Model Fine Parlor Clock. Clean, Runs FineRare And Beautiful Seth Thomas Adamantine ClockUnusual - 1910 Seth Thomas - Automatic Long Alarm - Advance Mantel Clock WorkingSeth Thomas Ships Clock & BarometerAntique Seth Thomas And Sons Mantle Clock 1876Antique Seth Thomas Og Weight Driven Clock Case Parts RepairSeth Thomas Adamantine Mantel Clock, Restored,cleaned&oiled. Original Finish. 1898 Seth Thomas 15 Jewels Double Sunk Porcelain Dial 18 Size Pocket Watch Antique Seth Thomas Cymbal #8 Seth Thomas Tambour Mantel Clock - Great ChimesSeth Thomas Adamantine Mantle - As Mint As You Will Ever Find. - Ca 1920 - WorksVintage Seth Thomas Wall Clock 30" Round Wood FrameVintage Seth Thomas Brass Maritime Ship Clock And Airguide Barometer Runs!Antique Seth Thomas Adamantine Mantle Clock, Needs Tlc Antique Seth Thomas No 124 Westminster Chimes Brass Mantle Clock Movement 8 DayVintage Seth Thomas Travel Alarm Clock Made In Germany - L@@k!C1880 - Antique New Haven Clock Company Crank Clock With Seth Thomas MovementSeth Thomas Adamantine Mantel Clock, Restored,cleaned&oiled. Mahogany Finish Seth Thomas Dana No.1 Adamantine 8 Day Time Half Bell 89c Mahogany Mantle Clock Antique Seth Thomas Mantel Clock With Westminster Chimes Beautiful Works GreatSeth Thomas Ships Bell ClockVintage Seth Thomas Metronome - Beautiful Wood Grain - Works Great - No ResOld Seth Thomas Chime Humpback Mantle Clock No. 124 Parts? Or Repair?Antique Original Seth Thomas Gallery Clock Pendulum...excellent Condition #2Seth Thomas No 124 Westminster Mantle Shelf Clock Movement Clock Parts1895 Seth Thomas Brass Case Crystal Regulator Ready For Restoration1920 Seth Thomas Mantle Clock No. 124Old Seth Thomas Tambour Humpback Mantel Mantle Clock Working FineVintage Seth Thomas Figural Spelter Clock Mother & Child Antique 1890 Seth Thomas Cottage Style Shelf / Mantel Clock 30 Hour W/ Alarm Seth Thomas No. 10 8 Day Ships Clock Movement.Old 1800s Seth Thomas Mantle Large Shelf Clock Movement & Hands Clock PartsSeth Thomas Mantle Clock Movement (4 1/2) With GongAntique Original Seth Thomas Gallery Clock Pendulum...excellent ConditionSeth Thomas Mantle Clock Movement-89c.* Vintage Original Seth Thomas Outlook No. 4 Mantle Clock - 120 Movement - Nice*Vintage Kieninger Obergfell Seth Thomas Acquisition Electronic Glass Brass ClockAntique Original Seth Thomas Gallery Clock Pendulum Excellent Condition#3Antique Seth Thomas Mantel Clock Dial Bezel Parts RepairVintage Seth Thomas Wall Banjo Clock Movement 1120 J Clock Parts Vtg 84' Seth Thomas "royal Seth" 1325 Triple Chime Mantle Clock Repairable Seth Thomas Mantle Clock Wood Case " Legacy " 1981 Key Wind Cat # 1305 W/ PapersAntique 1890 Seth Thomas Pocket Watch Movement Model 5 W Dial, Hands 17j WorksAntique American Seth Thomas Ships Wheel Fine Wall Clock Clean And Running

Recent News: Seth Thomas Clocks

Source: Google News

County historical society's street clock frozen in time
The Times (subscription), August 29th

He thought road clocks have been old style." Becker had targeted his purge on Grand Ave., so a couple of road clocks survived the destruction, together with a Seth Thomas-brand clock in entrance of the Milton H. Klopf jewellery retailer at 2367 S...Read more

Milwaukee County Historical Society's street clock frozen in time
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, August 27th

"He just thought that made Milwaukee more modern. He thought street clocks were old-fashioned." Becker had focused his purge on Grand Ave., so a few street clocks survived the destruction, including a Seth Thomas-brand clock in front of the Milton H...Read more

Clock donated to Pequot Lakes Historical Society
The Lake Country Echo, August 26th

Anyone who watches "Antiques Roadshow" is familiar with the word "provenance" as it relates to authenticity. A picture of the interior of the hardware store or the depot, for example, with the clock on the wall, would be perfect. If such a photo ...Read more

Auchampaugh: The mystery of the Owasco Reformed Church tower clock
Auburn Citizen, August 15th

The consistory records over the years record the many efforts to restore and maintain the steeple bell with the antique clock attachment. When the midsection of the damaged ... In Connecticut, the family had ties with Seth Thomas. • This places the...Read more

Kinsler cashes in all his husband points at once
Lancaster Eagle Gazette, August 7th

I needed some scrap clock parts to prime my clock-repairman's junk box — old gears, odd bits of brass with holes in them, weird screws and springs, and even semi-complete clock movements to be torn down for parts that might restore another clock to...Read more

Texans' Clock Collection Sells in Massachusetts
Maine Antique Digest, August 6th

The Brothertons are well known in antique clock circles, and Terry has held important national and local positions with the NAWCC. Overall, according to Cheney, they ... The Brothertons had early examples by Silas B. Terry, who produced unusual and...Read more

Bedford courthouse gets weather vane back
Roanoke Times, August 3rd

Bedford residents wondering which way the wind is blowing at the courthouse now can learn by looking up. On Monday, a free-spinning restored vane was put back atop the copper-domed tower, where it has perched since 1930...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