Seth Thomas Clocks
Seth Thomas Clocks are clocks manufactured by the American Seth Thomas Clock Company.
The company was established in 1813 by the clock maker Seth Thomas. Thomas studied with the celebrated clock maker Eli Terry from 1807 until 1810, when he purchased Terry’s business. He ran this until 1813, when he sold his share of the company and moved to the town of Plymouth Hollow, Connecticut.
He soon set up his own company, and began producing a range of wooden tall clocks along with shelf and mantel clocks. When Thomas died in 1859 his sons continued the business, produced new and innovative designs in the fact of competition from French manufacturers.
The company continued to successfully produce clocks for the American market until 1930, when it was merged with the Western Clock Company to form the General Time Instruments Corporation. This was later purchased by Talley Industries in 1968, and in 2001 General Time announced the closure of its operations.
At this point the Seth Thomas brand name was acquired by The Colibri Group, and the company’s archives of designs, records, drawings and photographs were purchased by the National Association of Watch and Clock collectors. In 2009 the Colibri Group was placed into receivership and the Seth Thomas brand was finally put to rest.
The company is perhaps most famous for its Black Mantel Clocks, produced from 1880 to 1931. During this time French clocks with slate, onyx and marble cases found popularity on the American market and American manufacturers attempted to produce similar models. However, production using these materials was costly so cheaper alternatives were used such as iron or wood.
The Seth Thomas Clock Company used a celluloid veneer called Adamantine, glued to a wooden case, as this material could be given the appearance of wood veneer, marble and onyx amongst others. They purchased the rights to use Adamantine from the Celluloid Manufacturing Company of New York City in 1881.
Some of the company’s other popular models included:
- Regulator clocks, introduced in 1860
- Spring driven clocks, introduced ca. 1855–1860
- Perpetual calendar clocks, made from ca. 1863–1917
- Walnut kitchen clocks, made from 1884–1909
- Marble clocks, 1887–ca. 1895
- Black (Adamantine finish) wood mantel clocks, ca. 1881–1917
- Black enameled iron cased clocks, 1892–ca. 1895
- Oak kitchen clocks, 1890–ca. 1915
- Tambour clocks, introduced in 1904
- Chime clocks, introduced in 1909
- Electric A/C clocks, introduced in 1928
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