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]



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    

German Franz Hermle Wall Clock Westminster Chime Weight Driven Vienna RegulatorSuperb Antique 19thc French Pierced Gilt Bronze Ormolu 8 Day Cartel Wall ClockAntique Fusee Wall Clock Railway Station School Stockall Marples Stokmar 8 DayWaterbury Calendar No. 36 Wall Clock Antique Oak Case Runs 8 Day Wind PendulumVintage 1950-60's Coca-cola Refresh Yourself Have A Coke Pam Lighted Wall ClockVintage Walnut Waterbury Wall ClockBeautiful Waterbury Lawrence Antique Walnut Wall Clock-runs And Looks GreatLg Antique French Victorian Era Bakers Style Mop Inlay Old Wood Wall ClockMcm Modern Syroco Starburst Atomic Sunburst Wall Clock 22"Antique German Junghans Spring Driven Wall Clock Approx. 1900Antique Ingraham Gingerbread Wall Clock - C1895 - Barn Find - RunsGood Antique 19thc Marquetry Walnut Drop Dial Wall Clock Station Public Clock1940's /50's Antique Coca-cola Old Diner Style Soda Advertising Coke Wall ClockGizaun Art Wsc30 Warm Sunflower Cedar Wall Clock, 30-inch Retails $249.00Large Vintage Dutch Wall Clock Friese Tailed 1972 Oak 8 Day Moon Dial Hermle 1950's 1960's Mid Century Starburst Sunburst Wall Clock Large 31 In AtomicVintage Starburst Robert Shaw Lux Atomic Mid Century Battery Wall Clock 36" NiceLarge Vintage Oak Pendulum Wall ClockAntque Clock 19c Hand Decorated Porcelain French Wall Clock With Key Needs WorkAntique Vienna Or German Figural Regulator Wall Clock Case Vienna Regulator Wall Clock Case - Antique - Case Only With Glass. No MovementVintage Lux Mid Century Atomic Starburst Electric Wall Clock WorksAntique German Wood Wall Clock Has Key Free Swinging Pendulum Glass Nice CondBeautiful Delft Tile Dutch Zaandam Zaanse Wall Clock In Great Working ConditionRare Welch-sessions Mission Old Oak Wood Footed Mantle-parlor Chime Wall Clock!!Antique Seth Thomas Wall Clock-large!Vintage Starburst Sunburst Wall Clock Forestville Atomic Eames Era Mid CenturyLux Lil Abner Shmoo Wall Clock Wind Up Vintage 1950s Little Abner CharacterVintage Art Deco Ingraham Kitchen Wall ClockSchatz Royal Mariner Wall Clock 8 Day Ships Bell Clock German (for Repair)Antique Seth Thomas Advertising Regulator Wall Clock- S Kind & Sons PhiladelphiaAntique 8-day Time & Strike German Regulator Wall Clock---needs Some WorkAls Automotive Leasing Systems Autorized Broker Wall Clock Advertising #ba36Vintage Schatz Queen Anne Elexacta Swinging Wall Clock ~ Vintage German 1950'sAntique Gustav Becker Regulator Wall Clock For Parts P42 SilesiaSeiko Melodies In Motion Jeweled Wall Clock - #035942 (16.5"l 17"w 4"h)Seiko Melodies In Motion Wall Clock Plays 18 Tunes Including 6 ChristmasVintage Regent Jewelers Hillcrest Arcade Wall Clock Original Light & Clock WorkLot Of 5 Assorted Antique Regulator Wall Clock Weights---for PartsAntique Large Oak Art Deco Kienzle German Wall Clock 8 Day Working Well Wall Clock Top Or Crown Parts SparesGerman Veinna Regulator Wall Clock CaseBell & Ross Br 01-92 Aviator Cockpit Wall Clock Advertising Display Vtg Mid Century Seth Thomas Atomic Starburst Wall Clock, Picturesque E626-001Black Forest 30 Hr J. Engstler W-german Hunter Stag Cuckoo Wall Clock Vintage Poppo Novelty Owl Wall Clock Cuckoo Clock Parts RepairVintage Retro Telechron White & Green Kitchen Wall Clock Electric Art Deco Hammond Electric Wall ClockElgin Eames Era Starburst Sunburst Wall Clock -mid Century #2Antique Banjo Style Neptune Wall Clock Ingraham Clock Co. Works Vintage $1 As IsAnsonia Gold Medallion Triple Chime Wall Clock Model 625 31"x13.5"x6.5" "rare"Patek Philippe Calatrava Wood Showroom Display Wall ClockOld French Romantic Wall Clock About 1960Schatz Royal Mariner 8 Bell Wall Clock, German Made, Works Great, Nr!!!Vintage Ge General Electric " Kitchen Wall Clock 2f02Vintage Westminester Chimie Usa Alarm Wall Clock With Antique Wood Case WorkingLarge Original Antique Victorian Wall Clock Pendulum Bob Jl Audio Wall ClockBuco 1320 Swiss Made Wood Wall Clock Original BoxSeiko Quartz Wall Clock Octagon Moon Phase Minisweep Second Hand Euc Oak Wood