There are two basic types of mechanical clocks, those powered by weights and those powered by springs. Weight-driven clocks came first, used in churches and monasteries beginning in the 13th century. The heaviness of a clock’s weights powers its movement (the network of gears and pins that move the hands of the clock), which is regulated by the escapement. In 1650, pendulums were added to clocks to make them more accurate.

Weights were used on all manner of clocks, from grandfather clocks to regulators to wall clocks, including cuckoo clocks. In the United States, one of the earliest weight-driven clocks was made in the late 18th century by Simon and Aaron Willard, whose Massachusetts Shelf Clock, as it was known, was basically a smaller version of a tall-case clock, with a brass dial and a mahogany pedestal base. In 1802, Simon Willard would cement his name in horology history when he created the banjo clock.

Even more influential was Eli Terry’s 1816 pillar-and-scroll weight-driven shelf clock, which took its name from the vertical, finial-capped pillars on the sides of the clock, as well as the decorative scrolls at the top. Introduced in the early 19th century, Terry’s earliest model exposed the escapement and pendulum on the front of the dial; subsequent models hid these mechanical features inside with the rest of the clock’s wooden movement.

Numerous Connecticut clockmakers, including Seth Thomas, quickly copied Terry’s basic design. Thomas’s wooden-movement shelf and mantel clocks first appeared in 1817. These, too, had pillar-and-scroll cases, usually with a bucolic scene painted on the bottom third of the case below the clock’s face. Later in the century, another Connecticut clockmaker, Ansonia, manufactured an extensive line of weight-driven mantel clocks with elaborately painted china cases, along with weight-driven regulators like the General.

By the middle of the 19th century, springs had largely replaced weights as the primary means to power a clock. Movements were also upgraded. Once made of wood, the wheels and pinions were now made of tougher brass, which made their leaves, or teeth, less susceptible to chipping or breaking outright.


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    

Rare Antique Seth Thomas Oak Wood Weight-driven Regulator #3 Hanging Wall Clock Seth Thomas No. 2 Regulator Single Weight Wall Clock As ShownGorgeous 3-weight Quarter Gustav Becker German Wall Clock- Carved Case+ornamentsBeautiful Antiquevienna Resch 3 Weight Wall Clock At 1893 With Grand SonnerieEnglish Vintage Brass Weight Driven Lantern Wall Clock John Smith LondonDouble Weight Wall Clock Movement Twin Weight Vienna Remember Wall Clock SparesPair Of Antique Vienna Regulator Weight Driven Wall Clock Weights PartsLarge German 2 Weight Wall Clock Striking Regulator Very Large 30" Schneider Musical Hunters Cuckoo Clock Dancers Three Weight!!!!!!Two Weight Walnut/ebony Slim Vienna Regulator Wall Clock Movement Restored.Double Weight Wall Clock Movement Twin Weight Vienna Remember Wall Clock SparesStunning Antique German Vienna Regulator Wall Clock , Remember S/weightAntique Twin Weight Wall Clock Case - Monumental Walnut Vienna Wall Clock CaseOriginal Warmink Vintage 8 Day Weight Driven English Style Lantern Wall ClockAntique Grandfather Tall Case Clock Weight Set Of 2 7 - 8 Lbs CastDouble Weight Wall Clock Movement Twin Weight Vienna Regulator Wall Clock OnlyDouble Weight Wall Clock Movement Twin Weight Vienna Regulator Wall Clock OnlyKilbourne & Proctor Banjo Weight Driven Regulator Clock Movement PartsAntique Twin Weight Wall Clock Slimline Walnut Vienna Wall Clock Rocket CaseVintage German Black Forest Musical Cuckoo Clock 3 WeightAntique Twin Weight Wall Clock Case Slimline Walnut Vienna Wall Clock CaseJunghans Mid-century Modern Art Deco Weight Driven Westminster Chime Wall ClockLarge 1-2-3 Weight Regulator Mahogany Clock CaseAntique Clock -19th C German Wood Dial Twin Weight Cuckoo Wall ClockRare Pr. Antique Heavy Weight Driven Clock Weights - Weight Set - David Dutton Antique Vienna Regulator Weight Driven Wall Clock Single Weight PartsRegulator Clock Weight - ContemporaryVienna Regulator Clock WeightAntique Gustav Becker Art Nouveau Clock Weight 1880-1890 1 OnlyVintage Black Forest Bird House Cuckoo Clock Leaves Germany Weight & Pendulum X1Mint In Box Very Rare Old Hand Carved Wood Weight Driven Folks Wall Clock!Lot Of 218 Antique Clock Movement Parts Weight 260 GramsAntique Vienna Regulator Weight Driven Wall Clock Single Weight PartsAntique 3.8 Lb Lead Weight W Embossed Brass Case For Tall Case ClockOriginal Antique Victorian / Georgian Longcase Grandfather Clock Weight. Old Original Seth Thomas Ogee Brass Movement Weight Clock Dial !!Antique Cast Iron Clock Weight Parts Repair Ogee, Seth Thomas? (86j)A Vienna Regulator Weight Driven Clock MovementEngraved Weight Brass , Wall Clock Napa Auto Parts Lot Of Advertising Collectibles Shirt Paper Weight Clock & More