Seth Thomas shelf clock. Plymouth Hollow, Conn. Decorated with mother of pearl.
Wow. this Seth Thomas made clock is in excellent original condition.
This mantel case form is constructed with a wooden case that has been painted black. The front surfaces are colorfully decorated with hand panted gilt scrolling and inlaid mother-of-pearl. Mother-of-pearl consists of pieces of the iridescent inner layer of certain mollusk shells. These are shaved thin and applied to or embedded in, in this case, clock cases in order to create an Oriental appearance. This was used as a decorative detail in clock case construction in the mid-1800s’ by several firms. It is unusual to find it in such vibrant condition. In addition to this decoration, the dial and the tablet are also colorfully decorated.
The tablet is painted from the back. It depicts two colorful birds sitting on a branch of a tree. Prehaps they are love birds? The broad border of this scene is predominately red and is a field of color for the gilt decorations.
The dial is painted on tin. The hours are represented in Roman style numerals and are painted on a slightly raised band. The four spandrel ares are decorated with additional florals. The center aperture of this dial is intentional left open. This allows the viewer to see that the movement in this clock is brass.
The brass time and strike movement is designed to run eight days on a full wind. It is spring driven. The plates are lyre shaped and the frontplate is diestamped by the Maker. The striking system is a countwheel design.
The original Clockmaker’s Plymouth Hollow label is in good overall condition. It does have some areas of staining. It is applied to the backboard inside the case. This is an interesting label in that it features a stagecoach at the bottom.
This very colorful model was made circa 1860. The case measures approximately 17 inches tall, 11 inches wide and 4.75 inches deep.
About Seth Thomas
Thomas was born in Wolcott, Connecticut, in 1785. He was apprenticed as a carpenter and joiner, and worked building houses and barns. He started in the clock business in 1807, working for clockmaker Eli Terry. Thomas formed a clock-making partnership in Plymouth, Connecticut with Eli Terry and Silas Hoadley as Terry, Thomas & Hoadley.
In 1810, he bought Terry’s clock business, making tall clocks with wooden movements, though chose to sell his partnership in 1812, moving in 1813 to Plymouth Hollow, Connecticut, where he set up a factory to make metal-movement clocks. In 1817, he added shelf and mantel clocks. By the mid-1840s, he changed over to brass from wooden movements. He made the clock that is used in Fireman’s Hall. He died in 1859, whereupon the company was taken over by his son, Aaron, who added many styles and improvements after his father’s death. The company went out of business in the 1980s.
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