A compact guide on mantle clock makers from vintage to contemporary
Known also as mantle or shelf clocks, the earliest models of mantel clocks were made between 1750 and 1760 in France. The English mantel clocks followed in production a decade later.
As the name implies, mantle clocks were specifically designed by clockmakers partly for home decoration and partly for practical means of keeping the time.
The first mantel clocks were sold inexpensively so that most people during those times could afford to buy for them, making the clocks very popular and pretty much common in many households.
Well-known antique mantel clock makers:
Simon Willard mantel clock
One cannot say of the most well-known antique mantel clockmakers without mentioning Simon Willard. After the clockmaker’s success with his banjo clocks, he designed the so-called Simon Willard Shelf Clock in 1780s, a weight-driven timepiece, which had become a commercial success during that time.
The Shelf Clocks were manufactured from 1780s up to 1830s, and are now highly prized by collectors worldwide.
Eli Terry mantel clock
Although it was the French who first developed the whole idea, mantel clocks really took off in the US in the early 1800s especially when the American clockmaker Eli Terry introduced the mass production of the clocks.
Ansonia mantel clock
Ansonia Clock Company created some of the most elegant porcelain mantel clocks, characterized by painted images of flowers on the front surface and elaborate carvings with gorgeous figurines and sculptures. One good example is the “General” model, which was created in 1886 and featured an eight-day weight-driven clock made of brass with a dial and a cherry case.
Seth Thomas mantel clock
Mantel clocks by Seth Thomas appeared more smooth and characterized by sleek lines compare to the models popularized by Ansonia.
In 1817, Thomas created his first wooded-movement mantel clocks that were mainly in pillar and scroll cases with painted designs.
More than ten years later, Seth Thomas introduced its mahogany mantel clocks. In 1842, brass-movement mantel clocks usually with ogee cases became in vogue, phasing out the wooden shelf clocks and Seth Thomas was a forerunner of its growing popularity. This particular style was continued to be made till 1913.
Ingraham mantel clock
Elias Ingraham designed the so-called “steeple clock”, a different look of mantel clock with a triangular front, in the middle of 19th century.
The style became very popular and inspired other versions such as the beehive mantel clocks and the double steeple mantel clocks.
Most prominent 20th century mantel clock makers
Waterbury mantel clock
Waterbury Clock Company traced its origin in 1857, but its most significant productions of wall and mantel clocks took place mostly in the 20th century.
Waterbury had produced huge numbers of mantle clocks until 1943 when the company’s name was changed to US Time Corporation, and eventually to Timex Group USA, Incorporated that we know today.
Most notable Waterbury mantle clock designs were made in the first half of the 20th century. The company’s mantle clocks were typically made of brass, wood, and porcelain.
Highly prized mantel clock collectibles
The earliest models of mantel clocks designed by the French were the most coveted timepieces in the antique industry. You can also include those first shelf clock versions created by the English ten years later. By they are very rare to find.
Moreover, those aforementioned five well-known antique mantel clockmakers above are the most popular, and are also highly prized mantel clock collectibles today.
Most noteworthy among them are the Simon Willard mantel clocks, which are widely considered as American masterpieces. An antique mantel clock designed by Simon Willard that is in good condition can pitch a price at $50,000 up to $250,000.
Another outstanding mantel clock collectibles in the 20th century are those designed by Howard Miller. The clockmaker’s heirloom-quality mantel clocks can go up to the price of $10,000 to $15,000 at present, and would be expected to go higher as time goes by.