Keeping Time With History: The OG and Seth Thomas Clocks

By Chuck Zielen

The third and final installment of the Anoka County Historical Society clock restoration series appears this week. Be sure to visit the museum and request a showing of these artifacts.

The first donation we will discuss is a Forestville OG style clock, which appears in a well-cared for, pristine state rarely found in clocks of this age. A professional lacquer finish has been applied and all existing components remain original. Only the missing bob and a veneer chip on the door halt this clock from getting a 10 out of 10 rating. One could easily ask, “is this a reproduction?” The answer is no – the patina is too deep, wood aging and glue drying are present, and label condition screams authentic age.

Based on the label that reads, “Forestville Manufacturing Co Bristol, CT.”, this specimen was manufactured between 1842 and 1849. After these dates the label would have read “Forestville Clock Co. of Bristol, CT” (1850-1855). The company quit making clocks in 1855. Closing, in this case, is symbolic of the end of the OG era in case style and mechanism design. While companies continued to make this style clock for many years, it no longer was the market leader.

The two-weight movement was cleaned, oiled and adjusted along with the bezel being cleaned. The missing veneer was replaced, and a new bob procured. It is in good running order but not adjusted for accurate timekeeping. Rather than having a wood face plate, we have a metal plate that has a hand painted floral pattern surrounding the time ring. The open center hole is 2/3 rds round and 1/3 rd scalloped making it one of the more attractive ones. It has green leaves in the floral corners and the same green is found in the lower glass presentation. Just below the center opening one sees “Forestville Manufacturing Co Bristol, Cot HL”. Attachment to the timepiece frame is done with screws that anchor the face and helps the timepiece stay in place.

The second artifact is a Seth Thomas Octogan Long drop wall clock whose style is often referred to as a school house clock. The case material is white oak and the movement is an eight day time only mechanism. With the exception of the bezel glass, all parts appear original.

Manufacturing of this clock, based on the timepiece design and the back-board label that reads “Seth Thomas Clock Co, Thomaston, CT” means it has a production range from June 1865 to Dec 1878. Before these dates the label would have read “Plymouth Hollow” and after 1878 it would read “Seth Thomas and Sons”.

In bringing the clock back to a good running condition, I cleaned and oiled the mechanism, as well as making a new pendulum and cleaning the bezel and case. It was not adjusted for accurate time keeping. The face is painted white and is attached to the brass outer ring by soldered clips. A strong hinge anchors the brass bezel.

In summation, this clock is an above average third quarter 19th century octagon long drop wall clock.

ACHS will host a rededication ceremony of the Philolectian Room on March 13 from 1-3 p.m. at the museum, reintroducing the namesake clock and celebrating this project. Please join us!

This article first ran in the Anoka County Herald.