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?