In the 1820's and 1830's, the one day wooden movement shelf clock, such as the pillar and
scroll and the bronze looking glass, was in mass production. The market grew rapidly and competition became severe. An economic
recession in 1837 brought the clock business almost to a halt. Chauncey Jerome wrote:
"At Richmond I was looking after our old accounts, settling up, collecting notes and picking
up some scattered clocks."
"One night I took one of these clocks into my room and placing it in the table, left a light
burning near it and went to bed. While thinking over my business troubles and disappointments, I could not help feeling very
much depressed. I said to myself I will not give up yet, I know more about the clock business than anything else. That minute
I was looking at the wood clock on the table and it came into my mind instantly that there could be a cheap one day brass
clock that could take the place of the wood clock. I at once began to figure on it; the case would cost no more, the dials,
glass, and weights and other fixtures would be the same, and the size could be reduced. I lay awake nearly all night thinking
this new thing over. I knew there was a fortune in it."
"I arrived home from the south on the 28th of January (1838), and told my brother who was a first rate
clockmaker what I had been thinking about since I had been gone. He was much pleased with my plan, thought it a first rate
idea, and said he would go right to work and get up the movement, which he perfected in a short time so that it was the best
clock that had ever been made in this or any other country. There have been more of this same kind manufactured than of any
other in the United States."*
Noble Jerome received patent number 1200 for his clock movement, issued June 27, 1839. The new clock
proved to be a great success, and so Seth Thomas decided to enter the market.
"In 1840, Thomas sent his nephew, Marcus Prince, over to Bristol to learn how Chauncey Jerome
was making the cheap 30 hour brass clock. Hiram Camp, Jerome's foreman wrote, "about the year 1840, I think, Seth
Thomas, who had not as yet engaged in the making of brass clocks, sent one of his men, a Mr. Prince, over to Bristol to work
for Mr. Jerome and learn how to do the work. Mr. Jerome said to his foreman, Mr. Camp, 'Now Mr. Thomas is a good man and he
wants to get into making brass movements and I want you to teach Mr. Prince all that you can about the work.' So, after two
or three years, Mr. Prince went back to Mr. Thomas, and he began to make the brass movements.".... "
"Prince returned to Plymouth Hollow and made the first brass clock movements in 1842. In 1844
or 1845 wood movements were phased out and Prince assumed entire control of movement manufacture for Thomas. These earliest
brass clocks were probably all in ogee cases with the addition of 30 hour and 8 day cases with columns about 1850."**
Dates of Seth Thomas one day brass clocks according to the printer of the label (usually given at
Elihu Geer, no address: 1842 - 1845
Elihu Geer, 26 State Street: 1845 - 1846 (Slaght)
or 1846 - 47(Tran Duy Ly, Heffner) .
Francis & Loutrel, Plymouth, Plymouth Hollow, Thomaston: 1842 to
Case, Lockwood & Co., Plymouth Hollow, Thomaston: 1860 to after
Case, Lockwood, Brainard & Co., Thomaston: after 1865
Thomaston Express Print, Thomaston: after 1865
American Printing Co., Thomaston: after 1865
Carl Lockwood & Co., Thomaston: after 1865
Dates of Seth Thomas clocks according to where it
Through 1865: Plymouth Hollow, CT
1865 and on: Thomaston, CT
Case Styles of Seth Thomas 30 Hour Brass Weight Driven Clocks
Clock Examples. The following examples are arranged in
Ca. 1842 - 1843
Ca. 1842 - 1843
Ca. 1842 - 1843
Ogee case, made in Plymouth
Hollow, glasses puttied in. Height 25 31/32", width 15 9/16",
depth 4 5/16".
Dial: metal, two rings drawn
around time track, dots for minute marks.
Early features of dial: tapered
numerals 3, 4 and 8, small winding holes (8.2 mm).
Label: printed by Elihu Geer,
Hartford, Connecticut, no address given. This dates it to 1842 - 1845.
Movement: missing, the clock
had an electric movement when I bought it!
It is interesting that the earliest dials on the Seth
Thomas one day brass clock were painted metal. Why did wooden dials appear
for a short time around 1845? It may be that they were left over stock
from the wooden movement clocks, which were discontinued in 1844 or 1845.
This is the theory that Richard Tjarks and I have come up with, please
if you can provide any information about this. If you have a Seth Thomas
wooden movement ogee clock,
so we can compare the dials and case
*"History of the American Clock Business for the
Past Sixty Years and Life of Chauncey Jerome, written by himself",
pp. 56 - 58, published by F. C. Dayton, Jr, 1860, reprinted 1983 by the American Clock and Watch Museum,
**"Illustrated Catalog of Seth Thomas Clocks,
Regulators and Time Pieces, 1863", pp. 62 - 63, reprinted by the American Clock and Watch Museum,
1977, with Seth Thomas history by Chris Bailey, ISBN 0-930476-00-X.
"Dating Seth Thomas Clocks" by Paul Heffner,
contained on pp. 23 - 24 of "Seth Thomas Clocks & Movements",
Tran Duy Ly, U.S. Books, 1996, ISBN 0-964706-0-5.
"Production Dates for Seth Thomas Clocks",
Paul V. Heffner, NAWCC Bulletin, Volume 27, No. 4, whole number 237, August
1985, pp. 443 - 4.
"Printers of Hartford, 1825 Thru 1860" by
D. R. Slaght.