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 E. Howard Regulator Number 70 Weight Driven Wall Clock Needs Tlc52" Grand Sonnerie - Vienna Regulator Wall Clock - 3 Weight 1889 Baroque StyleOpen Escapement Vienna Weight Regulator Clock Movement @1890 Unsigned Lenzkirch?Regula Waterwheel Sawmill Musical Three Weight German Black Forest Cuckoo ClockRare Antique Kuehl Cuckoo Clock Double Bird Quail Three Weight Parts Or RepairChelsea Weight Driven Banjo Clock (running)Gorgeous Large Size 2-weight Antique German Wall Clock- Signed MovementVintage Seth Thomas No.6 Regulator Single Weight Wall ClockGorgeous, Rare Antique Gustav Becker Two Weight Wall Clock At 1880/1890Regula Waterwheel Sawmill Musical Three Weight German Black Forest Cuckoo ClockBeautiful Large Size German Two-weight Wall Clock- 1880 GermanyAntique Weight Driven Wooden Works Riley Whiting Clock Parts RepairWaterbury Clock Co Weight Driven Banjo Clock Case Original1860's Seth Thomas Empire Triple Decker 8 Day Weight Clock Working CompleteGustav Becker 2 Weight Clock Movement & Dial @ 1900Dutch Vintage Dutch Weight Driven & Strikes To Bell Zaanse Wall Clock See VideoVintage West German Weight Driven Cuckoo Style Owl Wall Clock With Moving Eyes Gustav Becker Weight Vienna Regulator Wall Clock Beveled Glass Wood Case Only NrAntique Seth Thomas Og Weight Driven Clock Case Parts RepairGustav Becker Vienna Weight Regulator Clock Pendulum Only @ 189057"h Vienna Laterndluhr One Weight Driven One Year Movement Regulator Wall ClockAntique Og Weight Driven Clock Key & Pendulum Set Parts RepairPair Of Antique Og Weight Driven Clock Weights PartsVtg Kieninger Grandfather Wall Clock Movement Chime Weight Pendulum Partsrepair Ridgeway Grandfather Grandmother Weights Shells Weight Shell Set Clock PartsOriginal German / Vienna Regulator 3 Weight Clock Movement PartsAntique Seth Thomas Og Weight Driven Clock Case Parts RepairJ. C. Brown Weight Driven Ogee Clock. Working, Original Dial And Glass PanelsRidgeway Co Grandfather Weights / Shells Brass Weight Shell Set Nos Clock PartsVery Old Nice Antique 30 Hour Daniel Pratt Jr. Wood Works Weight Clock Dial 30 Feet Of Braided Weight Cord For Weight Driven Antique Clocks For Parts/repair1847 Seth Thomas Weight Driven Mantle Clock,column Front,ogee,30 HourAntique Old English Or Grandfather Clock Weight 14.1 LbsBanjo Clock Weight - Willard StyleLarge Brass Weight Shells For ClockMusical 3 Weight Hunter Style Black Forest Cuckoo Clock Thorens Plays EdelweissAntique Brass Vienna Regulator Weight Driven Wall Clock Single Weight PartsHuge Zaanse Fhs Dutch Bronze Art Figural Atlas Bell Chime 2 Weight Wall Clock NrAntique Silver Clock Weight ShellsAntique Og Weight Driven Clock Hands Set For Parts RepairAntique Working Kienzle German Art Deco Mid Century 2 Weight Teak Wall ClockLarge Black Forest Musical 3 Weight Cuckoo Clock Parts Or RepairVintage Wood Gear, Weight Driven Clock, Buco Style, Needs Work, Project Item!19th Century Mahogany Weight Driven Banjo Clock (running)Digital Food Kitchen Glass Weight Scale Clock Timer Red