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The history of American clocks begins in colonial New England in the late 1700s. The first American clocks were made by hand one at a time and were mostly tall clocks or grandfather clocks.Thomas Harland, a skilled English clockmaker who settled in Connecticut, trained Eli Terry, who founded the first American clock factory around 1800.
Eli Terry, along with Seth Thomas and Silas Hoadley, applied water-powered machinery to clockmaking. This led to the timepiece industry’s introduction to the Industrial Revolution. Factories began to mass produce clocks with interchangeable parts, a technique that became known as the American system of manufacturing.
Some American clockmakers who made a lasting impression were the Willard family of Massachusetts, Elias Ingraham and Company, and the Ansonia Company. Contemporary New York design company Tiffany and Co. was founded in 1837, representing a departure from European opulence to the new American style. By 1867, Tiffany and Co. was a major competitor in the world of silver, fine jewels, and classic timepieces. Tiffany clocks are sold in more than 200 stores worldwide.
A Simon Willard 1805 Banjo clock sold for $7,380 at Skinner of Boston in 2015
An E. Ingraham rosewood Spectacle shelf clock with painted zinc dial in Roman numerals sold for $7,703 at Skinner in 2009
An 1880 Tiffany gilt brass and enamel carriage clock featuring Corinthian columns, porcelain dial, and Arabic numerals sold for $4,920 at Skinner Auctions in 2015