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Mantel clock

Mantel clock

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Mantel clocks — or shelf clocks — are relatively small house clock
Clock
A clock is an instrument used to indicate, keep, and co-ordinate time. The word clock is derived ultimately from the Celtic words clagan and clocca meaning "bell". A silent instrument missing such a mechanism has traditionally been known as a timepiece...

s traditionally placed on the shelf, or mantel
Fireplace mantel
Fireplace mantel or mantelpiece, also known as a chimneypiece, originated in medieval times as a hood that projected over a grate to catch the smoke. The term has evolved to include the decorative framework around the fireplace, and can include elaborate designs extending to the ceiling...

, above the fireplace
Fireplace
A fireplace is an architectural structure to contain a fire for heating and, especially historically, for cooking. A fire is contained in a firebox or firepit; a chimney or other flue allows gas and particulate exhaust to escape...

. The form, first developed in France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 in the 1750s, can be distinguished from earlier chamber clocks of similar size due to a lack of carrying handles.

These clocks are often highly ornate, decorative works. They are most frequently constructed from any combination of ormolu
Ormolu
Ormolu is an 18th-century English term for applying finely ground, high-karat gold in a mercury amalgam to an object of bronze. The mercury is driven off in a kiln...

, porcelain
Porcelain
Porcelain is a ceramic material made by heating raw materials, generally including clay in the form of kaolin, in a kiln to temperatures between and...

, and wood
Wood
Wood is a hard, fibrous tissue found in many trees. It has been used for hundreds of thousands of years for both fuel and as a construction material. It is an organic material, a natural composite of cellulose fibers embedded in a matrix of lignin which resists compression...

. One of the most common and valued types of mantel clocks are the French Empire-style timepieces
French Empire mantel clock
A French Empire-style mantel clock, is a type of elaborately decorated mantel clock made in France over the Napoleonic Empire between 1804–1814/15, although the clocks manufactured throughout the Bourbon Restoration are also included within this art movement because they share subject, decorative...

.

Simon Willard's Shelf Clock (Half Clock, Massachusetts Shelf Clock) was a relatively economical clock which was produced by the celebrated Simon Willard
Simon Willard
Simon Willard were produced in Massachusetts in the Grafton and Roxbury workshops of Simon Willard , a celebrated U.S. clockmaker...

's Roxbury Street workshop, in Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

, Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

, around the first decades of the 19th century. Right after inventing the Banjo clock
Banjo clock
The banjo clock, or banjo timepiece, is an American wall clock with a banjo-shaped case. It was invented by Simon Willard, originally of Grafton, Massachusetts, later of Roxbury, Massachusetts, and patented in 1802...

, Simon Willard brought the design further, designing the similar Massachusetts Shelf Clock which was related to the traditional Bracket clock
Bracket clock
A bracket clock is a style of antique portable table clock made in the 17th and 18th centuries. The term originated with small weight driven clocks that had to be mounted on a bracket on the wall to allow room for their hanging weights. When spring driven clocks were invented they continued to...

s. Simon's new creation ran for eight days.

Specifications


In contrast to wall clocks, whose movements were attached to the back board, the shelf clock had its movement supported by a seat board. Amid the 1790s, in Boston Simon Willard began selling other standardized shelf clocks. Indeed, it looked like a standard tall clock whose hood and base were directly conjoined and whose body was missing. These models included both a second hand
Clock face
A clock face is the part of an analog clock that displays the time through the use of a fixed numbered dial or dials and moving hands. In its most basic form, recognized universally throughout the world, the dial is numbered 1–12 indicating the hours in a 12-hour cycle, and a short hour hand...

 and a calendar
Calendar
A calendar is a system of organizing days for social, religious, commercial, or administrative purposes. This is done by giving names to periods of time, typically days, weeks, months, and years. The name given to each day is known as a date. Periods in a calendar are usually, though not...

 dial.

Simon Willard's shelf clocks were weight-driven and some models had an extended base for the weight so they achieved a one week running period. Also, they had a pinwheel escapement
Escapement
In mechanical watches and clocks, an escapement is a device that transfers energy to the timekeeping element and enables counting the number of oscillations of the timekeeping element...

. Their strike mechanism was the rack and snail. The pendulum
Pendulum
A pendulum is a weight suspended from a pivot so that it can swing freely. When a pendulum is displaced from its resting equilibrium position, it is subject to a restoring force due to gravity that will accelerate it back toward the equilibrium position...

 length could be adjusted through a hole in the clock face at the 12 o'clock position, so it wasn't necessary to open the case.

Early examples


Some latest Shelf Clocks featured two artistically finished glass
Glass
Glass is an amorphous solid material. Glasses are typically brittle and optically transparent.The most familiar type of glass, used for centuries in windows and drinking vessels, is soda-lime glass, composed of about 75% silica plus Na2O, CaO, and several minor additives...

 tablets which were beside the circular dial. The whole clock was mounted on lion
Lion
The lion is one of the four big cats in the genus Panthera, and a member of the family Felidae. With some males exceeding 250 kg in weight, it is the second-largest living cat after the tiger...

 paws. Simon Willard's Shelf Clocks were produced until the 1830s.
The Willard Brothers
Willard Brothers
All Willard Brothers were born at their modest family farm in Grafton, Massachusetts, successively between 1743 and 1755. Owning independent workshops at Boston, they were the most celebrated clockmakers in the early United States.-Parents:...

 revolutionized the clock manufacturing by both labor division and using multiple previously molded parts. However, it is commonly accepted that historically their clocks weren't definitively popular. Instead, Eli Terry
Eli Terry
Eli Terry Sr. was an inventor and clockmaker in Connecticut. He received a United States patent for a shelf clock mechanism. He introduced mass production to the art of clockmaking, which made clocks affordable for the average American citizen...

 popularized the clock ownership among common American people.
Nowadays, Simon Willard's clocks are recognized as American masterpieces. As such, they are avidly sought by both antiquarian
Antiquarian
An antiquarian or antiquary is an aficionado or student of antiquities or things of the past. More specifically, the term is used for those who study history with particular attention to ancient objects of art or science, archaeological and historic sites, or historic archives and manuscripts...

s and museum
Museum
A museum is an institution that cares for a collection of artifacts and other objects of scientific, artistic, cultural, or historical importance and makes them available for public viewing through exhibits that may be permanent or temporary. Most large museums are located in major cities...

s. A Simon Willard's clock in perfect condition can be purchased for anywhere from $50,000 up to $250,000.

Popular culture


An animated figure of a mantel clock, 'Cogsworth', is a character in Disney's movie, Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast (1991 film)
Beauty and the Beast is a 1991 American animated fantasy film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. The thirtieth film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series and the third film of the Disney Renaissance period...

.

See also

  • French Empire mantel clock
    French Empire mantel clock
    A French Empire-style mantel clock, is a type of elaborately decorated mantel clock made in France over the Napoleonic Empire between 1804–1814/15, although the clocks manufactured throughout the Bourbon Restoration are also included within this art movement because they share subject, decorative...

  • Massachusetts shelf clock
    Aaron Willard
    Aaron Willard was an entrepreneur, an industrialist, and a designer of clocks who worked extensively at his Boston factory during the early years of the United States of America.While at the family farm at Grafton, Aaron Willard developed his career conjointly with his three brothers,...

  • Connecticut shelf clock
    Eli Terry
    Eli Terry Sr. was an inventor and clockmaker in Connecticut. He received a United States patent for a shelf clock mechanism. He introduced mass production to the art of clockmaking, which made clocks affordable for the average American citizen...

  • Lighthouse clock
    Lighthouse Clock
    A lighthouse clock is a type of mantel clock manufactured in the U. S. from 1818 through 1830s by the American clockmaker Simon Willard, having the dial and works exposed beneath a glass dome on a tapered, cylindrical body....

  • Simon Willard
    Simon Willard
    Simon Willard were produced in Massachusetts in the Grafton and Roxbury workshops of Simon Willard , a celebrated U.S. clockmaker...