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 No. 2 Regulator Clock. Antique American Weight Wall ClockSeth Thomas Adamantine 4 Column Mantel/shelf ClockAntique Seth Thomas Mantel Clock Eastlake Style W Columns Painted Wood GrainGorgeous Antique Seth Thomas Mantel Clock - C1900 - Very Good Cond. Runs GreatAntique Seth Thomas Black Gold Marble Adamantine Mantle Clock Antique Brass Seth Thomas Ships Clock W/ Double Strike Bells & Barometer N/rAntique Seth Thomas No 2 Regulator Clock Not Working For RepairSeth Thomas Adamantine Mantel ClockOriginal Early Cast Iron Antique Seth Thomas & Sons Co. Clock Amazing Vintage Antique Strikes Chime And Alarm Seth Thomas Usa Clock Working19th Century Antique Seth Thomas Ships Bell Wall ClockAntique 1880 Victorian Seth Thomas Adamantine 21 Jewel Shelf Mantle Clock W KeyShip’s Clock, Seth Thomas, Talley Industries, Company, Thomaston, Conn.Brass Seth Thomas Ship Clock With Ship's Bell StrikeSeth Thomas Adamantine Mantel Clock Case1872 Seth Thomas Sons & Co. Mantel Shelf Clock, Brass Movement, Works, With KeyAntique Seth Thomas Southern Fashion Calendar Clock MovementSeth Thomas Walnut Parlor Clock Circa 1890Antique Rare Seth Thomas.1884 Black Marble Visible Escapement Clock Working WellVintage Mid Century 1960s Seth Thomas Teak Starburst Wall Clock WorkingRare 1887 Seth Thomas 15 Jewels Pocket Watch - Mint Dial - Size 18 - RunsSeth Thomas "blanche" Antique Clock White Adamantine In Great Working ConditionAntique Seth Thomas Weight Driven Triple Decker Clock Case Parts RepairSeth Thomas 1 Weight Calendar Wall ClockSeth Thomas Large Weight Driven Antique Mantel Clock Looks/runs GreatSeth Thomas Eagle Crested Banjo ClockAntique Seth Thomas 89e Kitchen Clock Movement W/alarm Parts RepairSeth Thomas Running Fancy Gold Filled Case Large Size Running Pocket Watch Antique Seth Thomas Adamantine Mantel Clock – 1908 - Very Nice - Runs - 8 Day Seth Thomas Clock Seth Thomas Adamantine Mantle Clock No.102 Patented Sept 7, 1880 WorkingAntique 19thc Seth Thomas Crystal Regulator Porcelain Dial Key Wind Clock PartsAntique Seth Thomas Southern Fashion Calendar Clock DialVintage Mid-century Seth Thomas Art Modern E515-003 Mantle Clock & ChimesAntique Seth Thomas Og Weight Driven Clock Case Parts RepairAntique Seth Thomas Mantle Clock Case Parts/repair As-is *b9*Antique Seth Thomas 89 Mantel Shelf Clock Movement Parts RepairSeth Thomas No. 86t 30 Day Movement ... W/ Second Sweep --as Found !!!! Seth Thomas Banjo Clock Circa 1949Antique Seth Thomas Southern Fashion Calendar Clock DialAntique Vintage Wooden Seth Thomas Metronome De MaelzelSeth Thomas Adamantine Clock DialSeth Thomas No. 86 Ak M Movement Antique Seth Thomas 89al Mantel Shelf Clock Movement Parts RepairAntique Seth Thomas 8 Day Qtr Hr Strike #89l Chime 1920's Mantle Clock CompleteSeth Thomas 18s Pocket Watch Of 9j RunningAntique Seth Thomas Kitchen Clock Dial & Pan Parts Repair1909 Seth Thomas-eagle Series 210-17jewel-18 Size--illinois 10k Gold Filled CaseSeth Thomas Wall ClockAntique Vintage Seth Thomas Mantle Clock, Westminster Chimes, Working, KeysVintage Seth Thomas Metronome 6402 - Works GreatSeth Thomas 8 Day Automatic Long Alarm Mantle Clock Running OrderAntique Seth Thomas Adamantine Mantel Clock As IsVintage Seth Thomas 89ad Clock Movement Clean And Complete Antique Seth Thomas 8 1/4 Mantel Shelf Clock Movement Parts RepairAntique Mantle Clock Case Parts/repair As-is Ansonia-warterbury-seth Thomas *b11Seth Thomas 1935 U.s. Us Shipping Board Ship's Clock Vtg Seth Thomas 8 Day Mechanical Side Table Alarm Clock Swiss Made 7 Jewel NiceSeth Thomas Deco Mantle Clock Circa 1950'sOriginal Vintage Seth Thomas Metronome #7 5508

Recent News: Seth Thomas Clocks

Source: Google News

Annual youth ministry benefit auction Friday
Bristol Press, January 30th

Other antique clocks at the auction will include a weight driven country grandfather clock by Riley Whiting of Winsted, with wooden works and original finish; a New Haven banjo clock; a Seth Thomas schoolhouse clock; a Lewis Perpetual Calendar Clock by ...Read more

Museum of Northwest Colorado: Small-town business dedication
Craig Daily Press, January 8th

#Helen, meanwhile, became involved in the antiques business in the 1960s and 1970s. During the summer months, she ran a little antique shop out of the garage at the Nelsons' home at 1931 West Victory Way. Dan Davidson, Director of the Museum of...Read more

Down With Alarm Clocks!
Slate Magazine (blog), November 25th

By 1876, when the Seth Thomas Clock Company patented the mechanical, adjustable bedside alarm clock, the marketplace was ready for this invention. By now, waking up had nothing to do with the sun's rise or the seasonal demands of agriculture and ...Read more

Beaver wrestlers hit the road, face early-season gut check at Northeast Duals
OregonLive.com, November 12th

Oregon State's Kegan Calkins pinned Southwestern Oregon's Chris Ungerecnt in 2 minutes in his opening match at the Mike Clock Open, the first of four wins on the day. A redshirt freshman from Wheaton, Illinois, Calkins upset teammate Ronnie Bresser 5-4 ...Read more

Fall Back And Rewind With Clock Museum's Time Travelers
Hartford Courant, October 30th

He bought a grist mill, hired expert woodworkers Seth Thomas and Silas Hoadley, designed and outfitted a factory, trained workers — and made clocks so affordable that just about anyone could get one. Inevitably, people jumped into the industry and...Read more

Bromo Seltzer tower's clock loses its hands as major restoration begins
Baltimore Sun, October 12th

The hands of the clock atop Baltimore's landmark Bromo Seltzer tower moved for the first time in nearly two years Monday — right off the timepiece's faces. A crew of ... Prominent Connecticut clockmaker Seth Thomas Co. built the tower's focal point...Read more

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

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 clock. "It came from my mother-in-law and father-in...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