Wall clocks represent the largest category of antique clocks and are among the earliest forms of clocks designed for the home. Throughout the years, walls clocks have been produced in an enormous range of styles, from Rococo to Biedermeier, Arts and Crafts to Art Deco, cuckoo to Coca-Cola.

Some of the first wall clocks were the cartel clocks of 18th-century France. Housed in elaborate cast-bronze or gold-leaf-on-wood frames (cartel is French for frame), these wall clocks often featured Roman numerals on white dials surrounded by gilt garlands, figurines, and cherubs.

The cuckoo clocks made in Germany’s Black Forest are another venerable wall-clock form, particularly the house-shape ones made in the 19th century and attributed to Friedrich Eisenlohr.

Picture clocks from the same century, mostly from Austria, inserted clocks into paintings. In many cases, the paintings would depict village scenes—the hands of the real clock would be strategically placed on the painting so that they were positioned on the exterior of, say, a church steeple. Vienna was also a center for regulator wall clocks, which were among the most accurate clocks of their time.

Wall clocks in 19th-century America evolved from these forms, as well as from English wag-on-the-wall clocks, whose weights and pendulums dangled and swung for all to see below the clock’s case. The most famous and sought-after antique American wall clock is Simon Willard’s banjo clock, which was so named for its resemblance to an upside-down banjo.

In the early part of the century, every American clockmaker worth his salt made a banjo clock. They were typically cased in mahogany and frequently had brass ornamentation on their sides to suggest frets on a banjo’s neck. Some were crowned with eagles, others were anchored by boxes that were decorated with paintings of everything from harbor scenes to grand estates. Still other variations replaced the banjo shape with that of a lyre.

The gallery clock was another popular type of American wall clock. Unlike the banjos, which had long cases to hide the clock’s pendulum, these were almost all dial, with hardly a...

Schools got their own design, the so-called schoolhouse clock, first appearing sometime between 1850 and 1860. Similar to a gallery clock but with more framing—usually wood—around the dial, schoolhouse clocks had short cases below their faces, often with a small pane of glass to reveal the pendulum inside.

Mirror clocks were a very popular form of American wall clock, and hard to find today given their fragility. Typically the dial would occupy the top quarter or third of the clock’s rectangular case, with the bottom section devoted to a mirror, behind which swung the clock’s pendulum. Frames ranged from plain birch to gilt pine.

Double-dial wall clocks from makers such as Jerome and Ingraham were another 19th-century favorite. In most cases, a clock giving the hours and minutes would fill the top section of the case, while hands pointing to the date, month, and/or day of the week filled the bottom. In some of these clocks, tumblers with the printed names of the days and months ("Monday," "January," etc.) poked through the dial, giving these antiques an almost digital appearance.

By the 20th century, many of these wall-clock styles were being mass-produced by Seth Thomas and others. With the advent of electrical wall clocks, manufacturers began adding neon to their products and making their clocks out of plastic, steel, and chrome.

For advertisers, electric clocks represented an exciting new way to pitch products to customers. Coca-Cola and Budweiser were some of the first companies to make advertising clocks, as were gasoline companies and manufacturers of radios and other consumer-electronics devices.

While advertisers chose not take full advantage of the miniaturization of clockworks (dials needed to remain large so that products could be promoted), designers did. One of the best and most collected clock designers of the 20th century was George Nelson, whose clever and even humorous Mid-century Modern sunflower, ball, and starburst wall clocks give new meaning to the phrase "wag on the wall."

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    

Gorgeous Antique German Gustav Becker 3 Weight Wall Clock At 1900 Grand SonnerieBeautiful German Kienzle 2 Weight Wall Clock With Movement At 1900 Beautiful Antique Austrian Resch Remember Two Weight Wall Clock At 1880Attic Find,victorian Fusee School / Wall Clock Circa 1890 & Just. 99p Start !Antique Fusee Wall Clock Victorian Railway Station School 8 Day London C1890Old Wall Clock Regulator Particular Skeleton Clock Made In Germany Tempus FugitA Superb Quality Junghans 12" School / Wall Clock,good Working Order 99p Start !Antique 19thc Viennese Ebonised Single Weight Driven 8 Day Vienna Wall ClockAntique Seth Thomas Hanging Eclipse Wall Clock Parts Repair Gustav Becker Large Decorative Veinna Regulator Wall Clock CaseBeautiful Antique German Lenzkirch Two Weight Wall Clock At 1897Austrian Or German 3 Weight Grand Sonneire Enravaed Dial Wall Clock MovementSeth Thomas Large 30 Day Wall Regultor Wall Clock Antique Original Elgin Starburst Sunburst Wall Clock Mid Century Modern Atomic Teak Wood EamesAntique-wall-clock- Regulator 19th Century Vienna Clock * Junghans *Seiko Melodies In Motion Collector Edition Wall ClockVintage E. Ingraham Figure 8 Wall Clock Ionic Working GreatRare Beautiful Antique German Neuhaus & Becker Free Swinger Wall Clock At 1900 Vintage Electric Neon Wall Clock Large Original Gas Station Non WorkingVintage Antique Ingraham Mason's Wall Clock In Good Condition (masonic) ReverseVintage Starburst Sunburst Wall Clock Atomic Eames Era Mid Century Modern 1950'sAntique Wall Clock Regulator 1900th Westminster Melody *Rare Antique 19thc German Gustav Becker Walnut 8 Day Striking Vienna Wall ClockAntique 19thc Viennese Walnut Single Weight Driven 8 Day Vienna Wall ClockBeautiful Antique German Junghans Keyhole Wall Clock At 1912 Showroom Display Watch Dealer Advertisement Wall Clock Patek Philippe CalatravaVintage Regulator A Wood Wall Clock Gingerbread Style Wind Pendulum Working Antique French Rococo Style Bronze Floral Japy Freres Old Victorian Wall ClockAntique E. Ingraham Regulator Hanging Pendulum Wall Clock - Working RunningJunghans Free Swinger Wall Clock Circa 1885Vintage Snap-on Tools Pin Up Girl Wall Clock 16x19 Inch (girls In Thongs)Old A Wall Clock Regulator *belcanto*particular With Man Who Beats On The BellAntique C.1890 Austrian Gold Gilt Accent Vienna Regulator Wall Clock: Working Antique-wall-clock-regulator-19th-century-vienna- Reinhold Schnekenburger Vintage Dutch Zaanse Wall Clock Delft Blue Dutch 60cm Big Vintage G.e. Telechron School/industrial Wall Clock, Model 1ha1608, Ex. CondVintage Starburst Westclox Sunburst Wall Clock Atomic Eames Era Mid Century 50'sAntique/vintage Anno 1750 German Gravity Saw Tooth Wall Clock**old Wall Clock Shaped Dutch Saarlander Clock With Moon Phase Warmink Wuba**Patek Philippe Calatrava Watch Dealer Showroom Display Advertisement Wall ClockGerman Deco 1910 Westminister Chiming Wall ClockA Rare Scottish Rosewood 8" Fusee Wall Clock Signed Robert Burns MelroseOld Wall Clock Little Regulator Baby Clock Westminster Melody **made Germany **Antique Lenzkirch German Wall Clock Movement Dial Hands Parts Or Repair Wag Box Rolex Display / Advertisement Wall Clock Vintage Elgin Starburst Wall Clock Mid Century Modern Atomic Walnut Wood & Metal Old Particular Wall Clock Regulator Comtoise Clock Westminster Xl Clock 138 Cm Seth Thomas Brand New (old Stock) Wall Clock Cases--(15)-- See Pic's!!Vtg 1957 Standard Electric Time Co. Industrial School Wall Clock Rmt-12 Gr WorksHoward Miller Daniel Wall Clock 620-232. Key-wind Oak "drink Coca Cola In Bottles" Wall ClockGustav Becker Free Swinger Wall Clock Circa 1900Royal Visible Escapement Gallery Wall ClockAudemars Piguet Royal Oak Wall Clock AuthenticOld Wall Clock Pendulum Regulator Old Wall Clock Regulator 31 Day Wall Clock OrologioOld Wall Clock Pendulum Regulator Original Kieninger N°80***antique Wall Clock Regulator Clock***Old Wall Clock JunghestilOld Wall Clock Regulator Particular Skeleton Clock Made In Germany Tempus Fugit