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    

Antique Westerstrands Swedish Carved Wood Cartel Wall Clock W/ Bells, NrAntique 36" Regulator Single Weight Driven Railroad Wall Clock W/ Second Dial NrAntique 33" Walnut Seth Thomas Regulator Wall ClockAntique Ansonia €Antique 39" 1860s Era E. Howard Style Weight Driven Boston Banjo Wall Clock NrAntique German Black Forest Friedrich Mauthe Free Swinger Wall Clock At 1900Ithaca Calender Clock, Wall ClockSeth Thomas Eclipse Wall ClockRare Dent Fusee 9 Inch Dial Striking Wall Clock, Gallery ClockAntique Ansonia Queen Elizabeth Wall Clock - Amazing Original Label On ClockBeautiful Antique German Carl Werner Wall Clock At 1900Antique American Walnut Inlaid 12" Wall Clock, Circa 1890 & Just 99p Start!Twin Weight Vienna Regulator Wall Clock Movement By Lenzkirch - Antique ClocksAntique Oak Ansonia Schoolhouse Wall Clock With Calendar - For Total RestorationMagnificent Glazed Inlaid Drop Dial Wall Clock - Original Antique ClocksAntique E. N. Welch 8-day Time & Strike, Mahogany Wall Clock - "sembrich" ModelAntique 1800's 2 Weight Vienna Regulator Wall Clock With KeyRare Genuine Dealer Display Tag Heuer No. 55 Monaco Wall Clock In Ltd Black DialOld Wall Clock Shaped Dutch Clock With Moon Phase Frisian Clock Large Warmink Dutch Sallander Wall Clock Oak Wood Weight Driven Striking To BellBeautiful Antique German Junghans Wall Clock At 1906 With R=a PendulumAntique From Germany Beautiful Friedrich Mauthe Vienna Regulator Wall Clock 1890Vintage Circa 1900 Seth Thomas World Clock Schoolhouse Regular Wall ClockBeautiful Antique German Junghans Wall Clock At 1900 With R=a PendulumBeautiful Antique Kienzle Carved Walnut Deer Wall Clock- 1910 GermanyVintage Midcentury Modern 26" Starburst Atomic Teak & Meta Eames Era Wall Clock Beautiful Antique German Free Swinger Wall Clock At 1900Antique Junghans German Regulator Wall ClockGorgeous Antique German Balcony Freeswinger Wall Clock With Bronze Approx.1900Nice Looking Howard Miller Westminster Chime Wall Clock-works GreatOriginal Standard Electric Time Company Wall Clock School Factory Large, Nice!! Smiths Sectric Mains Powered Wall Clock. -pre 1950 As It Has Made In England Beautiful Antique 19thc Walnut & Ebonised 8 Day Vienna Regulator Wall ClockHoward - Seth Thomas - Wall Clock Pendulum Bob 8" DamaskedAntique Victorian German Junghans Wall Clock Vienna Gong Striking Wallclock 1890Vintage Black Forest German Regula Cuckoo Wall ClockVintage Wall Clock Stamped Warming With Pulley And 2 Weights Antique Oak Sessions 8 Day Calendar Regulator Wall Clock W/ Key Circa 1900 Mod 2Vintage Mid Century Retro Atomic Teak Sunburst Starburst Ingraham Wall ClockVintage Anno 1750 Black Forest German Gravity Saw Falling Wall Clock Running Antique Vtg Early 1900's Sessions Eclipse Regulator Oak Wood Wall Clock W/ KeyAntique French Morbier Weight Driven Wall Clock For Parts, Or Restoration.Old Comtoise Wall Clock Marked Mesaize Cagnes Vintage Mid-century Modern Eames Atomic Retro Elgin Starburst Wall ClockVtg 60s Mid Century Modern Wood Atomic Boomerang Wall Clock With Side Plaques Old Friesian Wall Clock Warming Wuba Westminster Antique Wall Clock Regulator Art DAntique German Junghans Freeswinger/wall Clock Approx.1900Luminor Panerai Showroom Wall Clock DisplayAntique Seth Thomas Ogee Wall Clock, Weight Driven, WorkingHuge Antique New Haven Banjo Wall ClockScottish Double Fusee Wall Clock Movement / Dial / Pendulum J. Berry AberdeenVery Rare, Q-strike 4 Melody Lcb 4 Airs Antique French Wall Clock- 1920 FranceDutch Schippertje Friesian Wall Clock Automaton Vintage Wood Wall Clock German 1950's Blacksmith Anvil Strike AutomataRare Maranville Calender Wall Clock Year 1861.Gorgeous Patek Philippe Mechanical Wall Clock Display Mint Condition!English Fusee Double Faced Potts & Sons King George V Railway / Pub Wall ClockBeautiful Antique Gustav Becker German Wall Clock- 1890 Germany Old Wall Clock Lanternclock Warming Wuba