Antique mantel clocks

By Karen Parr-Moody


With the onslaught of digital phone clocks and their kin, the old-fashioned mantel clock may seem to represent form more than function. And that’s fine. Will an iPhone clock ever be able to replace the beauty of an ormolu Empire mantel clock with figures representing Mars and Venus? Never. So lovers of beauty will continue to purchase vintage and antique clocks and use them as statement pieces in their homes.



Mantel clocks reached their zenith of popularity in the 18th and 19th centuries. In nthe original GasLamp mall, a booth called Scott Zaft Clockwise Clock Repair features an exemplary array of such mantel clocks. And just think of the – ahem – timing of such a gift for Christmas. The receiver of such a gift would ring in the New Year punctually.


Among the Clockwise mantel clocks is this most unusual Ansonia cast iron clock in the photo, above right ($485). Dating to the late 1800s the clock is all original, with the exception of replacement glass. It is graced with faux wood grain and has an eight-day cathedral gong that sounds on the hour and half hour.


As any antique lover knows, the decades that encompassed the Art Nouveau and Art Deco aesthetic movements were filled with designs that featured sinuous, graceful lines. The mantel clock in the photo, left, dates to the 1910 to 1920, which was a time when Art Nouveau was popular, but was evolving into Art Deco; the elegant lines are a giveaway. It is a classic Waterbury Tambour model with an eight-day cathedral gong ($285).


The clock in the photo, below right, is a 1911 Seth Thomas Sonora Chime mantel clock with one half-pillar on each side ($550). It is an example of a clock made of a celluloid substance called Adamantine, which Seth Thomas began using soon after it was developed in the 1880s. Adamantine was used to simulate marble or alabaster, so Seth Thomas was on trend: In the 1860s, French clocks had become popular in the U.S. and were typically housed in slate, marble or onyx cases. In using Adamantine, Seth Thomas was allowing Americans to get the French look at a lower cost.


The clock in the photo, left, would look so stylish in a home office. It is a genuine Howard Miller eight-day carriage clock with Westminster chimes ($440). The movements are new. The case is made of a beautiful walnut case and is wound by a key.


Like everyone, I seem to never have enough time. Perhaps this is because I don’t yet own one of these beauties – or my dream time keeper, a-bronze-and-porcelain Sèvres mantel clock. Le sigh. Such a timepiece would surely set my heart ticking.


Why don’t you set someone’s heart ticking this Christmas? Buy them a beautiful mantel clock and you surely will.





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