From Grandmother Clock

Seth Thomas Grandfather Clock

If you are or have been a knowledgeable clock person, have collected grandfather clocks or wall clocks or mantle clocks, or who has enjoyed browsing through antique stores, or someone who even paid attention the the names on the clocks of many high schools, colleges and universities, hospitals, or the wall clocks in offices and organizations of almost any type, the name Seth Thomas has been omnipresent for well over a century.  Since something like 150 years ago, when Seth Thomas clocks started making Seth Thomas grandfather clocks, weight driven regulators and many other kinds of wall clocks, and mantel clocks of all kinds, the Seth Thomas clock company must have produced many hundreds of thousands, if not millions of clocks, and they made these close so well that even many of those made well over a hundred years ago are still working well today.

Now, fast-forward 150 years when Seth Thomas started making clocks in Thomaston, Connecticut (although the name of the town was actually changed from Plymouth Hollow to this name years later to honor his clocks achievements), and a funny thing has happened.  The company has changed ownership at least 3-4 times over the last 50 years, as was owned by General Dynamics and Colibri among others.  Competitors sprung up the world over.  The opinion of the author of this blog post is that aside from the many any other variables at play, Seth Thomas also gradually and over time focused less and less of the quality of their grandfather clocks and wall clocks and mantle clocks, and more and more on how they could keep producing them least expensively, presumably with the goal in mind of keeping a sound if not growing bottom line profit.

Well, it did not work too well over the last decades, and it certainly has not worked well to date, as Seth Thomas clocks have not been produced in well over a year.  In recent years, the Company ceased production of mechanical clocks of all kinds, whether grandfather clocks or mantel clocks or wall clocks, opting instead, as have so many other both clock manufacturers and industry in general, to move production to China or other areas of the Far East.  Yes, prices were low, but quality suffered, and The Great Recession hits an industry which may not be growing much to begin with even in a healthy global economy, very very hard.

Having said that, and this again is all opinion, Seth Thomas clocks probably started a somewhat steady decline something like 50 plus years ago.  Irnically, or perhaps not, the decline was coincident with the time that the Company started to import movements from other countries rather than make them themselves.

Probably the best single example, or at least perhaps the most iconic, is the rise and fall of Seth Thomas Grandfather Clocks.  A grandfather clock made by Seth Thomas in its earlier years is a highly prized collectible and of the highest quality.  At some point, perhaps in the 1950s if not earlier, Seth Thomas started using imported German movements of a certain make, which would not be considered as serious, or at least a relatively speaking high-priced collectible, the way the earlier ones were.  They may work fine, but the quality was definitely a step downhill from what Seth Thomas clocks had offered previously.

Now, unless something is going on of which we are not aware, Seth Thomas has totally ceased production of clocks, and has not made any or sold any (the remaining inventory had been sold earlier) in very recent years.  Colibri Group, based in Rhode Island, laid off the vast majority of workers having anything to do with Seth Thomas Clocks.  The brand name and remaining inventory was sold to a New York based company, who ultimately decided to simply sell the existing inventory and those clocks which were en route.

Anyone want to buy perhaps the most famous name in Clocks, Seth Thomas Clocks?

Early Seth Thomas Grandfather Clocks Regulators with Mercury Pendulums Catalog 3 clock models
Early SethThomas Grandfather Clocks Regulators with Mercury Pendulums in Catalog 3 clock models

Museum Wall Clocks™

When we first introduced our Museum Clocks collection™ several years ago, we were clear that while our longer-term goal is to provide Museum Wall Clocks™ and Museum Mantel Clocks™, our first major effort would be in the grandfather clocks market.  While we have successfully offered Museum Mantel Clocks™ and Museum Wall Clocks™, our clock thrust was and is going to be with Floor Clocks and grandfather Clocks.

Within the next month, we will be presenting over 20 models of Museum Grandfather Clocks, which we think will take the grandfather clock shopping market by storm. The quality is amazing, with solid wood throughout, except where noted where special veneers or inlay have been added for additional fine craftsmanship.

What do you, the wall clocks and mantel clocks shoppers want?  Do you want walls clocks or mantel clock reproductions of incredibly complicated movements, such as a Congreve Clock or Astrolabium, or would you rather have a great reproduction of the more classic and well known clock designs sold by other manufacturers such as Howard Miller Clocks, Hermle Clocks, and Bulova Clocks.  If you see a clock you think may be a great addition to our line, we would love to hear from you.  What about a rolling ball clock, or a swinging pendulum clock, with the pendulum swinging out front, instead of those more commonly offered today.

Would you want a reproduction of an amazing 1700s mechanical wall clock with many features including, say, chimes and a moonphase, or a more classic reproduction, which could also be a skeleton clock, which would look good, sound great, yet not be what we term a wonder timepieces.

Classic Antique English Double Fusee Drop Down Wall Clock 8 Day Movement with visible pendulum

Steve Jobs Grandfather Clock by Apple

There is no doubt that Steve Jobs (1955-2011) is already recognized as a legendary technology and entertainment both visionary and master of physical innovation and product introductions and designs.  Many people wake up to the Alarm Clocks on their iPhones, whether it’s the 3G, 3GS, 4, or what will be the soon to be released 4S iPhone and iTouch and iPads.  While not advertised as such, these devices keep time within the range of accuracy of an Atomic Clock.

Some adopters also use base stations made by a myriad of makers including Apple, such as Bose, Sony, JVC and many others.  In addition, the iPod Nanos are also sold at the Apple Retail stores and elsewhere fitted with bands that make them stylish wristwatches and timekeepers.

There are also no doubt many Apps available in the iTunes store which provide world time or varying colors of actual time, time zones, wall clocks, designs of grandfather clocks and even mantel clocks.

We envision that one day before too long, if not and probably not by Apple Computer itself, one or more grandfather clock companies and retailers, perhaps 1-800-4CLOCKS.com, will introduce a grandfather clocks which importantly includes Apple technology.

Ironically, or perhaps for this very reason, it would in a sense be clocks history and even grandfather clock history repeating itself.  In the 1930s and 1940, there were very large mantel clocks, as well as large furniture consoles and grandfather clocks or floor clocks which included radios as one of their key features and components.  In many ways, it would be a natural fit, but with the latest in technology for delivery of all the audio and video and computing components, except perhaps for still including the very core mechanism of a grandfather clock movement and the swinging pendulum, which still has not gone out of style in these days of atomic time and very inexpensive but accurate quartz movements.  Grandmother clocks too.

We only wish Steve Jobs himself could have put his genius in both design and technology to help the grandfather clock leap forward to future generations.

Grandfather Clock and Radio by Atwater Kent Manufacturing Co.
Grandfather Clock and Radio by Atwater Kent Manufacturing Co.

Steve Jobs Apple Grandfather Clock Historical Possibilities
Steve Jobs 1955-2011, legendary technology and entertainment both visionary and master of physical innovation and product introductions and designs.  We salute you!

Museum Mantel Clocks™

Perhaps you have heard about our newest line of Museum Grandfather Clocks™, which aim to bring you not only some of the most stylish grandfather clock reproductions of great clocks, but also the highest quality grandfather clocks.  Grandmother clocks too!  We are the ones who also introduced to the market Grandson Clocks™.

Well, we are also contemplating the introduction of Museum Wall Clocks™ with Museum Mantel Clocks™.  We are very interested in getting input from our thousands of loyal customers at 1-800-4CLOCKS.com, as well as any clock enthusiast, about what specific styles of wall clocks and mantel clocks would be most appealing.  We would not rule out making designs similar to those existing brands like Howard Miller Mantle Clocks or Ridgeway Wall Clocks. After all, many of their designs and styles, which is true for Hermle Clocks, and was definitely true for Sligh Grandfather Clocks and Bulova Floor Clocks as well.

We would also be excited about making reproductions of some of the finest timepieces ever made, and we would make certain they are of super-high-quality, but we would also make certain that the price would be a tiny tiny fraction of what the original antique wall clock or antique mantel clock would cause.  We would choose what we refer to as Winder Timepieces, and where the original antiques would almost certainly be sold for $50,000 or more because of their complexity in addition to their desirability.

What’s your opinion about mantel clocks and wall clocks of this type?  If these wall clocks and mantel clocks were made to the highest standards, might you consider buying one of them instead of a Howard Miller or a Hermle mantel clock or wall clock? Would a “newer brand” scare you off?  We will showcase some designs, minimally in a showroom on our website, so clock enthusiasts like yourself can give more informed feedback.

Any wall clocks, mantel clocks and grandfather clocks suggestions are appreciated every time.

Grandfather Clocks History Begins Now

We got what we found to be a fascinating call from a 50-something woman who was buying a really nice wedding gift for a couple with whom she is very close.  She said, I want to get them something that is not on their Bridal or Wedding Registry, and something that i know I have enjoyed in my home many decades.  She was referring the the Howard Miller grandfather clock that she had in her home all these years, and was thinking it might bring the same sense of warmth and comfort and loving that it had brought to her and her family.  Then, she went onto say, I thought this very “old-fashioned” kind of grandfather clock as a perfect wedding present was reminiscent of previous eras.  While she may very well be right from a macro trending standpoint, we were nonetheless at something of a loss for words, except for saying what an ideal wedding gift a grandfather clock might be.

We talked a little about very special wall clocks or mantle clocks, but this customer ultimately decided she wanted her friend to experience the same pleasure she had over the years from her grandfather clock, or is it really a grandmother clock, she mused.

We talked about the various grandfather clock options available today that were not available at the time she purchased her clock, such as automatic nightime shut-off as an option, illuminated dials, automatic wind mechanical grandfather clocks, and some new and exciting other options that are available now on some grandfather clocks, such as the Ave Maria chime and the Ode to Joy chime.

While many of the top-tier clock companies remain the same, there are some new grandfather clock entrants, and other grandfather clocks makers who have for now, at least, gone by the wayside.  Some of the highest quality and best names in the grandfather clock niche business remain a constant, such as Howard Miller Grandfather Clocks, the Ridgeway Grandfather Clock Collection, Hermle Floor Clocks, and Kieninger Grandfather Clocks.  Some prominent grandfather clock makers that have for now at least exited the grandfather clocks marketplace include Sligh Grandfather Clocks, Bulova Grandfather Clocks and Seth Thomas grandfather clocks.  One very new entrant which we are excited about working with very soon is Americana Grandfather Clocks, which will have amazing solid wood cases of the type described, and German Hermle Clock movements.  Stay tuned for further details as the grandfather clock segment may once again begin heating up.

And don’t forget, a grandfather clock or grandmother clock can make an incredible special gift as a different an unbelievable wedding present, a gift for a very special wedding anniversary, a way to mark a special occasion, such as either a promotion or for a retirement.

We actually expect to see an increasing demand for grandfather clocks in the years ahead as people both realize the advantages of buying new as well as a resurgence in fixing up and decorating existing homes rather than the continuous trade-up rush which had been fueling much of the housing market over the last decade.

What do you think?  We would like to know.

eBay Grandfather Clock

Suppose a grandfather clocks buyer or seller is looking to purchase or sell a new, vintage or antique grandfather clock or grandmother clock.  Would eBay be a good venue or marketing channel to use for one or more of buying or selling grandfather, mantel or wall clocks, whether the clocks are new or antique?  What about buying or selling on Amazon.  Still yet, what about the seemingly omnipresent Craigslist which especially also local buyers and sellers to hook up and see what happens (meant to sound somewhat ominous).

The short answer is a definite maybe!  The old adage “Let the Buyer Beware” comes to mind.

To really provide a helpful analysis, it would be desirable to think about what category your desired grandfather clock falls into, as this may dictate what the best shopping possibilities might be out there for you.  For grandfather clock buyers, one should first think about whether they want a:

New high-end grandfather clock

Used or pre-owned grandfather clock of high quality

Any new or old grandfather clock

A basic good antique grandfather clock

A very special – and likely to be very expensive – antique grandfather clock.

Grandfather clocks discount shoppers then need to factor in both what element of risk they are willing to take, and what the potential worst-case downside might be.  Shipping and trucking costs for grandmother or grandfather clocks must be taken into consideration, as must the potential “money pit” that one may soon end up walking into if the clock was not as described, or, when it arrives, it is not working as well as it did when you first saw it in action.  There is also a risk in shipping grandfather clocks, even for short distances, so please keep this in mind, even including how to move a grandfather clock only a foot or two in any direction.

New grandfather clocks by high-end makers like Howard Miller Grandfather Clocks, Hermle Floor Clocks Clocks, the Ridgeway Grandfather Clock, and the about to be introduce and super-high-quality Americana Grandfather Clocks Company, and finally. Kieninger Floor and Grandfather Clocks.  While these can be purchased used, one would want to be an extremely knowledgeable buyer to ensure they know what they are getting, know how to fix or get fixed any current or emerging problems, and making sure that the grandfather clocks are still on warranty, and were originally sold by Howard Miller Authorized Dealers like 1-800-4CLOCKS.com.

Keep in mind that if you have to ship the clock from one place to another (e.g. your home), not only is there the very real risk of damage in transit, if not packet and placed correctly, but the cost will likely be much more than what you bargained for, as individuals will not get the same shipping rates that are received by 1-800-4CLOCKS because we ship many thousands of clocks every year with these freight carriers.  One needs to factor this cost in as well if contemplating purchasing a clock on eBay.  Generally speaking, one in this situation is likely to be best served by buying locally.  Craigslist has the same added advantage, but one is entering, usually, the home of a complete stranger, which as the writer of this blog post can make a testimony to, can be highly nerve-racking to the least.

But why buy used when you can buy a new grandfather clock from an Authorized Dealer, such as Hermle Clocks or Howard Miller clocks, with warranties against manufacturing defects that last up to 3 years from the date of purchase.  Our own prices include generally factory fresh models shipped directly (and therefore only once, minimizing the chances of any breaking) from the manufacturer’s warehouse, and include Free Shipping including placing it in the very spot in your home where you want it (and we will unpack it too!).  We then also offer free in-home set-up of grandfather clocks by a technician that is certified by at least one of the clock companies with whom we are Authorized Dealers, and we can make that happen all across the USA and Canada.  Oh, and we also have a Low Price Guarantee.  Check out our website for the details.  Beware of clock shops that “throw around”  the term “white glove set-up”, as that term is so often abused to suggest to the customer that they are giving everything to the Customer that e are, and when it simply ain’t the plain truth!

Now if you are buying one of those newer cheesy (mostly Chinese) important that look nice in the photos, only to arrive with significant assembly required, and frequently even without any instruction manual or contact information.  Our understanding is that even quite decent Stores like JC Penney and Target are carrying these clocks.  And the grandfather clock model names are frequently eerily similar to clocks made by established brands such as Howard Miller.  Our general advice on these models is to steer completely clear of them.  If/when they are able to make a quality product that meets our standards and those of our customer clocks, we will add them to our grandfather clocks product line in a nanosecond.

Now antique clocks, especially smaller ones, are the only group we believe you should be considering purchasing and arranging for shipment.  For a spectacular grandfather clock that I could afford, if I was comfortable enough that the grandfather clock was/is all genuine and original, and one can’t find anything similar closer by, it may well be worthwhile to have the grandfather or grandmother clock packed very very carefully and shipped to you home.  We would emphasize you want-need excellent packing expertise and materials, not to mention a reliable shipping company.  At the same time, one has to be extraordinarily careful when buying an antique, and understand the risks and pros and cons.  In addition to antique stores, and even a treasure find at a tag sale, one must know what one is buying, that it is not a ‘marriage’ (meaning case and movement were put together, or married, somewhere in the grandfather clock life’s past).  Craigslist has the potential to be an excellent source for finding antique clocks for sale.  Be aware both that there are many dealers out there, sometimes posing as individuals and that many have unrealistically high expectations as to what  their clocks are really work.  And the money pit question comes back to mind as well, and is especially relevant for antique clocks, as the required replacement parts may no longer be available and would need to be made by hand, which can get quit expensive and there are fewer and fewer people in the world who even know how to do it.

Most people don’t know that on eBay there are many clocks, some of which are reasonably well made, but are disguising themselves as antique clocks, or perhaps saying something like; while “we don’t know the exact age of this clock…” and placing the clock in the pre 1930 Antiques and Collectibles clocks subcategory, thereby suggesting but never saying from where the clock truly originated, or how old it really is.

Antique English Grandfather Clocks

When when this back in time in olden days gone by, much of the earliest grandfather clock history took place in Merry Old England.  Although the grandfather clock was then known as a longcase clock or tall case clock, the clock design was unmistakable.  A weight driven floor clock in a free-standing wooden case with a pendulum swinging back and forth helping to drive the grandfather clock mechanism.  Aside from certain definitions around the height and relative dimensions of the grandfather clock case, this schematic and design is the very definition and essence both of the antique and modern day grandfather clock and floor clock.

There were two categories of movements, regarding duration, of the earliest grandfather clocks and during the first 300 years, believe it or not, since grandfather clocks were first introduced on about the year 1650.  Some were made with 8 day movements and others were made with 30 hour movements.  This was true particularly in the 1800s.  The most common pattern or practice was that 30 hour movement clocks, where the clocks essentially had to be wound one a day to keep it running, were either bought for the servants quarts of the very wealthy, or by individual grandfather clock shoppers who could not afford the price tag associated with the 8 day grandfather clock mechanism.  The floor clocks, known back then as long case and tallcase clocks, with 8 day movements, were bought and used by the very rich in society, and in certain public and common areas where many could see the time and benefit from having access to and a view of what time it was at any given moment.

Another big difference between the very large majority of antique British grandfather clocks vs. current grandfather clocks made by Howard Miller clocks and Hermle Clocks and Ridgeway Clocks and others is that most but not all of the antique grandfather clocks were time and strike only, gonging on the hour for the number of hours and striking once to mark the passing of the half-hour.  Antique grandfather clocks by and large have a much much louder clock strike and gong on the hour compared to modern day grandfather clocks, yet a very few of them also had chimes built in, which made those floor clocks particularly collectible, rare and expensive.  Even fewer of the antique clocks had automata built in, such as a ship rocking back and forth, and some even had music boxes or figures which might move on the hour.  New Howard Miller Grandfather Clocks, Ridgeway Grandfather Clocks, Hermle Floor Clocks and others also will have a chime and frequently a selection of chimes, which were very rarely found on antique grandfather clocks.  Chimes are one of many very important considerations when considering purchasing a new vs. antique grandfather clock.  If one wants the Westminster Chimes on a grandfather clock, for example, one is much more likely to find it to begin with, much less also affordibly, on a new vs. antique grandfather clock.  Working moondials are another luxury which are much more available and affordable on new grandmother clocks and grandfather clocks compare to antique grandmother clocks.

There we so many famous makers of now antique British Grandfather Clocks that there are literally books filled with the names of clockmakers and watchmakers from Britain that list tens of thousands of listed clock makers, in fine print and showing bound in a single volume of hundreds of pages.  Perhaps the most notable and famous clock and pocket watch reference is known as Brittens Guide to Antique C lock and Watchmakers.  It is a wonderful reference tool for any aspiring horologist or collector of grandfather clocks, wall clocks, mantel clocks and antique pocket watches.

Some of the many names of the earlier grandfather clock makers include J W Benson of London, Thomas Tompion, Eliicott, Mappin & Webb, Dent and Company, Elliott and literally hundreds and many thousands of somewhat lesser known individuals and entities making and producing grandfather clock.

Antique English Grandfather Clock Excellent Regency Period Example
Excellent Regency Period Antique English Grandfather Clock