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    

Interesting 1865 Seth Thomas #1 Calendar ClockBeautiful Seth Thomas #4 Double Dial Calendar Clock - RunsSeth Thomas Sonora 5 Bell Chiming Bracket ClockSeth Thomas Calendar Clock; Southern Calendar Clock Co, No 7, Fashion, Double DiSeth Thomas Empire No. 6 Crystal RegulatorSeth Thomas Adamantine Mantle Clock. "sucile" Model----- No Reserve!!!19thc Antique Victorian Stag Seth Thomas Painted Cast Iron Estate Mantel ClockAntique 30hr Seth Thomas Wood Works Clock, C.1835Antique Seth Thomas Mantle ClockSeth Thomas 'brookfield' Model Banjo Clock With Hour & Half Hour StrikeSeth Thomas Antique 4 Column Mantle Clock Adamantine 100%all Original Runs GreatRare Vtg Seth Thomas City Series Deco Stepped Mahogany Wood Mantle Chime Parlor Seth Thomas Nicely Inlaid Sonora Chiming Double Movement ClockSeth Thomas Adamantine Mantle ClockSeth Thomas Adamantine Mantel ClockAntique Seth Thomas Mantle Clock Adamantine Key Bell 8 Day Victorian Shelf 4 1/2Old Antique Seth Thomas Mantle Shelf Clock Feet Trim / Ornament Clock Parts Set Seth Thomas Antique Very Rare Adamantine Mantle Clock W/24 Hour Automatic Alarm!Seth Thomas 124 Clock Mechanism, With Dial, Bezel,pendulum, Back DoorAntique Vtg Seth Thomas 8 Day Mantel Clock 120 Movement For Parts / RepairAntique Seth Thomas Pocket Watch 18s 7j #559418Antique Seth Thomas Kitchen/parlor Mantle Clock Unusual Ornate Star PendulumVintage Seth Thomas Ships Brass Clock Antique Seth Thomas 9" Mini Cottage Clock Mantle Flat Top 30-hour Seth Thomas Vintage Antique Adamantine Mantle Clock Dual Column Lion Head Key Antique Seth Thomas 89c Mantel Shelf Clock Movement Parts RepairFully Restored Seth Thomas 'tiber' Mantel Clock Marbelized Adamantine 89-c1890 Seth Thomas Octagonal Schoolhouse ClockSeth Thomas 8 Day 1880 Adamantine Mantle Clock4 Antique Adamantine Seth Thomas Mantel Clock Columns. Complete Antique Clock Dial Glass Face 6" Gold Gilt (beaded) Brass Bezel By Seth ThomasSeth Thomas Grandfather ClockVintage Seth Thomas Burled Mahagony Mantle Clock 1925?Clock Pendulum Seth Thomas Kroeber WaterburyAntique Running 1928 Seth Thomas Westminster *bugle "chime No. 90" Mantel ClockSeth Thomas Glass Sided Crystal Regulator Circa 1895Antique Seth Thomas Og Weight Driven Clock Case Parts RepairAntique Early Rare 1863 Rosewood Seth Thomas Miniature Non-column Og Clock WorksAntique Nicely Detailed Coin Silver Double Hunter Seth Thomas Pocket Watch Antique Clock Weight For Seth Thomas #1 Regulator19thc Antique Victorian Era Seth Thomas Old Rosewood Wood Veneer Mantel ClockOld Seth Thomas Mantle Shelf Clock Dial Bezel Glass PartsVintage Used Seth Thomas Mantel Clock Face W/attached Door & Convex Glass WindowAntique Seth Thomas Mantel Clock Dial Bezel Parts RepairRare Old Seth Thomas Oak Wood Mantle Column-beehive Chime Wall Parlor City ClockSeth Thomas Adamantine Mantel Shelf Clock, Works, Strikes On Hr., Bell On 1/2 HrAntique Seth Thomas Wall Clock ( Rahatoon Co )Seth Thomas Shelf Clock Striking Hours With Alarm AlsoAntique Seth Thomas 89al Mantel Shelf Clock Movement Parts RepairAntique 8 Day T/s Seth Thomas "fleet Series #1" (ca. 1913)Old Seth Thomas Mantle Shelf Clock Dial Bezel Glass PartsSeth Thomas 1900 Mantle Clock With StrikeAntique Seth Thomas City Series 1879 "nashville" Walnut Shelf Clock Working Antique Seth Thomas Kitchen Clock Dial & Pan Parts RepairAntique Seth Thomas Og Weight Drive Clock Movement Parts RepairAntique 1920's Seth Thomas Hand Carved Mahoganey Tambour Petite Mantle Clock Vtg Antique Original Seth Thomas Adamantine Mantle Clock Estate Find Back LegClock Pendulum Seth Thomas SessionsAntique Seth Thomas 89e Kitchen Clock Movement Parts RepairOld Seth Thomas Mantle Clock Hands & Mounting Spacer & Pin Parts

Recent News: Seth Thomas Clocks

Source: Google News

Editorial: Cheers & Jeers
Quad-Cities Online, March 27th

That's why I hate this specialization of kids when they're playing on these travel squads when they are 12, 13, 14 years old, only dedicated to one thing, traveling all the time, paying an exorbitant amount of money to play baseball with hopes they're...Read more

'We had a job to do'
The Durango Herald, March 23rd

Ferdinando earned his pilot's license after the war and bought a plane, which he would fly off of College Mesa, where the old Durango airport was located. He rebuilt and performed all the maintenance on his plane, a Funk, himself. Because of an...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

Time for city to fix clock
Petaluma Argus Courier, March 2nd

They suggested a clock be put on the building as a sign of progress and prosperity of the 25-year old city. The city, however ... They succeeded and the wooden tower with the Seth Thomas clockworks adorned the new building for all to see. We now refer...Read more

Horology Auction Earns Nearly $1.1 Million
Maine Antique Digest, February 6th

Clock and watch auctions differ from most other antiques auctions in that the material passes, for the most part, from one collection to another. The offerings were vast ... A 75" walnut, walnut veneer, and burl Seth Thomas Regulator No. 19 made for...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

Seth Thomas clock winds up being around 100 years old
Ocala, June 16th

Q: The enclosed pictures are of a Seth Thomas wind-up clock that I acquired at an auction in Sullivan County, N.Y., back in the 1970s. The glass in the door that opens to the clock face is missing. The clock is in working order and when you wind it, it...Read more