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Seth Thomas - US Maritime Commission clock No.32801

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Ships Clocks15 of 26Stopwatch Royal Navy Victoria London 1847Our backwards clock
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Posted 5 years ago


(8 items)

I was working on a ship which was very old, but it has gone through many 'transformations' all its life. One day they were discarding all the old stuff and replacing them with new ones. One of these was an old clock - a Seth Thomas clock heading for the garbage bin. I 'rescued' this clock and kept it until now.
Could someone help identify how old this clock is? And how much is its value now? The only clue is the serial number. There is a number stamped inside the clock that says '43', but I don't know whether it's just a manufacturer's number or the year of make. I'd be really curious to know whether this clock was made, purchased and therefore installed between 1914 - 1949. For years I've been searching for reliable info and sources but to no avail. Many helps thanks!

Mystery Solved


  1. Bruce99 Bruce99, 5 years ago
    Can you provide the dimensions of the clock and dial?
  2. inhammer inhammer, 5 years ago
    The clock face is 6". The minute dial is 2.5". The hour dial is 1.85".
    The whole clock with the wooden casing is 7.7". And it still works, but after a few hours it'll either be a little slower or faster.
  3. Bruce99 Bruce99, 5 years ago
    First of all, I do not collect Ship's Clocks so I can not address some of your questions with personal, hands on experience.

    The closest match to your clock's face and dimensions in my references was to a Seth Thomas Ship's Lever circa 1915, but it's not an exact match and I don't think that your clock is that old. Seth Thomas may have used this same dial layout for a long time. It is distinctive.

    If you go to eBay and enter 320847985823 (Item number) in the search box you can still currently pull up the auction of this exact model Seth Thomas which sold in February 2012 for $177.50. The seller, "Klokkrazy", describes his or her clock as having a "Phenolic Case" and a probable manufacture date code of 9 - 44. With that in mind I would think that your clock was probably manufactured in November of 1943 but I can't say so with absolute certainty. Seth Thomas did have date codes stamped or painted on many of their clocks and they used date code formats which may have changed over time. There are other manufacturer's numbers on both the movement and dial so I don't think that the 11.43 is likely anything other than a date code.

    I have a few more questions if you don't mind:

    How long does it run on a single wind?
    If it was manufactured in the 40's, it should have an 8-day movement which means it should be keeping accurate time for a full week.

    You state that it runs a little slower or faster. Does it do both???

    Regarding the regulation of your clock's time-keeping rate, have you tried moving the lever just below the "12" towards either "S" or "F"? I believe that the lever should make your clock run "S"lower or "F"aster but if your clock is running erratically that obviously won't help. It would need to be serviced.

    I hope this helps. Sorry I couldn't be more definitive.

    Nice save by the way. Thanks for sharing it on Collectors Weekly!
  4. inhammer inhammer, 5 years ago
    Hi Bruce. I don't remember how long it'll last but I do recall after a few days it'll be 'off'. That means if i move it to 's' it'll start to go slower in a few days time and that'll be the same for the 'f'. So I guess the synchronization has gone 'bonkers!' But thanks again for the extra info. Your clarification on those numbers seemed logical..hehe. Good one. Have a good day!!
  5. Bruce99 Bruce99, 5 years ago
    Hi inhammer,

    What you describe is not unusual, or 'bonkers'. These types of clock should, on average, be able to keep time within 3-4 minutes per week.

    Once you have it running where you want to keep it, you will need to do the final regulation to achieve this accuracy.

    To check the clock's accuracy, set the hands to the correct time, and then let the clock run for at least a couple of days.

    Temperature changes, and the lessening tension of the mainspring as it runs down are the main things that result in a change in rate.

    Once your clock is regulated to keep reasonably good mechanical time, you will need to set the hands whenever the time is off by more than a few minutes - perhaps every week or two.

    Take care and enjoy your clock.


  6. inhammer inhammer, 5 years ago
    Ah that makes sense..I have been doing it right after all. After I came home from being at sea, I sent this clock to a friend's clock shop to 'revive' it. They got it to work again. Thanks for the assuring 'tutorial'. Guess I'll be 'winding' it up again then! Anyway thanks for the great insight and best of luck to you.


  7. Bruce99 Bruce99, 5 years ago
    You're very welcome Hamilton!

    Nothing is more frustrating that trying to fix something that "ain't" broke! I know from vast personal experience! :)

    Best of luck to you as well.

  8. Bruce99 Bruce99, 5 years ago
    They're my life Sean! hehehe, naw...I'm just another member over at the NAWCC. I think that may have been what Kerry was getting at when he asked me what my screen name was on their member boards :) !

    I can learn a LOT from some of those folks. Many have made clocks their life's work. Thank you for the nice compliment though even if I'm just a hack amateur newbie hobbyist collector...LOL Bottom line, I've much to learn before I run out of time. Best regards my friend.
  9. Bruce99 Bruce99, 5 years ago
    Sean, you're a serious collector of depth and breadth. You're also very kind. I enjoy and learn a lot from collectors such as you here and that is one the main reasons I keep coming back. That and cool clocks like the one Inhammer just shared! :)

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