Chelsea Clock Company
The Chelsea Clock Company is one of America’s oldest and largest clock manufacturing companies that still exist today.
Founded in 1897, it has long been regarded as one of America’s greatest products and their clocks are found in homes and offices throughout the country.
Based in Chelsea, Massachusetts, the company’s origins can be traced back to 1842, when Edward Howard established the E. Howard Clock Company. At the time the firm was a renowned clock manufacturer, making products from cast brass and mahogany. However, the company went bankrupt in the 1880s and was bought by Charles Pearson.
In 1897, the Chelsea Clock Company was formed and ever since its history has been closely entwined with the history of clock making in America.
The Chelsea Clock Company enjoyed notable fame at the turn of the twentieth century when it began producing timekeepers for a variety of automobile companies, including Packard, Studebaker and Rolls Royce.
Although the company was known for producing high quality products, it wasn’t until 1906 that the firm began to earn profit when it started producing a large quantity of marine clocks for the United States Navy. This led other military organisations to follow suit and, in 1907 and 1908, clocks made by the company could be found in more than one hundred U.S. Treasury Department offices across the country.
Guide for collectors
The Chelsea Clock Company have been designing and building exceptionally highly quality clocks for over a century and have been the clock of choice for the American government and its military bodies. Despite a series of financial setbacks, the company has been able to endure due to its unfaltering commitment to high quality products and as a result has earned itself the moniker, “The Last Great American Clock Company”.
The most prestigious of all of their clients is undoubtedly the White House, and Presidents of the United States throughout the last century have owned or received Chelsea Clocks. Not surprisingly, Chelsea Clocks are extremely valuable and desired by clock collectors and can reach extraordinary prices.
Early Chelsea Clocks are very collectable and have become highly precious antiques for both private collectors and museums alike. Chelsea Clocks are regularly sold at auction houses such as Christie’s and Bonhams.
Predominantly an American market, clocks that were built for government and military branches tend to be more expensive but are also of better quality. Clocks of this calibre can begin at around $5,000 and exceed $15,000 whereas the more common and commercially sold models are sold from $1,000 to $6,000.
In December 2011, a rare mantel clock, designed by American metalworker Joseph Heinrich for the Chelsea Clock Company circa 1900-1905, was sold through Sotheby’s, New York, for a realised price of $50,000.
In September 2008, at the New York branch of Christie’s, a base and ball special “Commodore” ship’s bell clock made by the Chelsea Clock Company was sold for $18,750. Built in 1907, the item fell within its presale estimate of $18,000 to $22,000.
At an auction organised by Bonhams in February 2007, a bronze presentation ship’s clock made by the Chelsea Clock Company around 1909 realised a price of $10,158.