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    

Antique Authentic Killam & Co. Pawtucket Ri Weight Driven Banjo Wall Clock, Nr2 Weight Vienna Regulator Fancy Clock Case Only @ 1870 Early Gustav BeckerGorgeous Large Size Gustav Becker 2-weight Wall Clock- 1890 GermanyAntique Vienna Regulator Clock Movement, Dial, Weight, Pendulum, Pulley, CrankGustav Becker 2 Weight Clock Movement & Dial & Bracket @ 1870 Excellent EarlySuperb Antique Gustav Becker Walnut 2 Weight Rocket Vienna Regulator Wall ClockBeautiful Large 2-weight Antique Gustav Becker German Wall Clock- 1890 GermanyBeautiful Large Antique German 2-weight Gustav Becker Wall Clock- 1890Assembled Set Of 3 Vienna Weight Regulator Clock Finials @ 1890s Original Gustav Becker Vienna Weight Regulator Clock Pendulum Only @ 1870 EarlyAntique Gustav Becker Complete Twin Weight Vienna Regulator Wall Clock MovementVienna Clock Twin Weight Movement Lenzkirch For Spare Or Repairer Vienna Clock Antique Og Weight Drive Clock Movement Parts RepairComplete Antique German Twin Weight Vienna Regulator Wall Clock Movement Antique Seth Thomas Og Weight Driven Clock Case Parts RepairAntique English Weight Driven Longcase Grandfather Clock Movement Spares/repairNos Hermle 351-850 / 85cm Cable Weight Driven Clock Movement Westminster ViennaAntique Seth Thomas Og Weight Driven Clock Case Parts Repair46" Highly Brass Decorated Ansonia Antique Hanging 2 Weight Driven Wall ClockVery Nice Antique Vienna Regulator Single Weight Hanging Wall Clock - RunsAntique French Weight Driven Wall Clock Parts RepairGerman Weight Driven Clock Movement With Fancy Porcelain Dial & Hands Parts NrPair Of Antique Og Weight Driven Clock Weights PartsNew Set (3) Grandfather Clock Brushed Brass Weight Shells 2" (50mm) X 10"Antique Seth Thomas Og Weight Driven Clock Movement Parts RepairThree Brass Plated Cylinder Weight Shells For Grandfather Longcase Clock Nos Old 1800s Terry Andrews Ogee Lg Shelf Mantle Weight Driven Clock Movement PartsAmerican Style Howard No. 5 Single Weight Driven Movement Banjo Wall ClockAntique Og Weight Driven Clock Dial Parts RepairAntique Seth Thomas Og Weight Drive Clock Movement Parts Repair1800s Weight Driven Column Pillar Scroll Ogee Shelf Wooden Pulleys Clock PartsNew Set (3) Grandfather Clock Polished Brass Weight Shells 2" (50mm) X 10.5"Antique Og Weight Driven Clock Key & Pendulum Set Parts RepairAntique Waterbury Og Weight Drive Clock Movement Parts RepairOld Column Pillar Ogee Lg Shelf Mantle 8 Day Weights Weight Pair Clock PartsLot Of 8 Old Cuckoo Clock Pine Cone Weights Weight Clock PartsAntique Og Weight Driven Clock Case Parts RepairAmerican Weight Driven Wall Clock Movement Mounting BracketsAntique / Vintage Silver Vienna Regulator Clock Weight. *7.4 Pounds* --single--Old Weight Driven Dutch Windmill Novelty Wall ClockAnimated Wall Weight Driven Cuckoo Pendulum Clock- Japan- WorkingAntique Seth Thomas Og Weight Driven Clock Case Parts RepairAntique Og Weight Driven Clock Key & Pendulum Set Parts RepairOld Column Pillar Ogee Lg Shelf Mantle Clock Weights Weight Pair Clock PartsGrandfather Grandmother Weights / Shells Brass Weight Shell Set Nos Clock PartsKit Clock 14 Inches Complete Except For Weight No ReserveAntique Og Weight Driven Clock Hands Set For Parts RepairAntique Sessions Og Weight Drive Clock Movement Parts RepairRunning Dutch Windmill In Tulip Field Wall Clock Miniture 60" Chain 1 Weight Two Weight Vienna Regulator Clock Movement Mounting BracketsVintage Cuckoo Clock Small Bluebird Made In Germany Pine Cone Weight WoodGrandfather Clock WeightNice Antique Wall Clock Weight In Good Condition. Solid Cast Iron Plus Hook.Antique Clock WeightAntique Og Weight Driven Clock Hands Set For Parts RepairGrand-father Cuckoo Clock Tripple Weight Chain Set