Seth Thomas Clocks Value: What Makes Them Tick?

Founded in 1813, the Seth Thomas Clock Company was one of the most prolific and well-respected clockmakers in American history. Over its 150+ years in operation, the company produced a wide variety of high-quality timepieces that are now highly sought after by collectors. If you‘re lucky enough to own a Seth Thomas clock, you may be wondering how much it‘s worth. In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll explore the key factors that determine the value of Seth Thomas clocks and provide some examples of what different types of clocks have sold for.

A Brief History of Seth Thomas Clocks

The story of Seth Thomas clocks begins with the company‘s namesake, Seth Thomas, who was born in 1785 in Wolcott, Connecticut. Thomas began his career as an apprentice to renowned clockmaker Eli Terry. In 1813, Thomas bought Terry‘s factory and began producing clocks under his own name.

The Seth Thomas Clock Company quickly gained a reputation for producing high-quality, durable timepieces. The company was an early adopter of mass production techniques, which allowed them to produce clocks more efficiently and at a lower cost than their competitors.

Over the years, the Seth Thomas Clock Company produced a wide variety of clocks, including mantel clocks, wall clocks, grandfather clocks, and even tower clocks. They also produced clocks for specific markets, such as schools, offices, and railways.

One of the company‘s most famous clocks is the tower clock at Grand Central Terminal in New York City, which was installed in 1913 and is still in operation today. Seth Thomas clocks have also been used in the U.S. Capitol building and other notable landmarks around the country.

Factors That Determine Seth Thomas Clock Value

So, what makes a Seth Thomas clock valuable? There are several key factors that can impact the value of these timepieces:

1. Age

As with most antiques, older Seth Thomas clocks tend to be more valuable than newer ones. Clocks produced in the early to mid-19th century, when the company was still relatively new, are particularly sought after by collectors.

2. Rarity/Scarcity

Some Seth Thomas clock models were produced in very limited quantities, making them rare and therefore more valuable. For example, the Seth Thomas No. 2 Regulator, which was produced in the 1870s, is one of the rarest Seth Thomas clocks and can sell for tens of thousands of dollars.

3. Condition

The condition of a Seth Thomas clock can have a significant impact on its value. Clocks that are in excellent condition with minimal wear and tear will generally be worth more than those that are damaged or have been heavily restored.

4. Model/Type of Clock

The type of Seth Thomas clock can also affect its value. Some models, such as weight-driven wall regulators and early shelf clocks, are more sought after than others. Mantel clocks are generally the most common and therefore tend to be less valuable, although there are certainly exceptions to this rule.

5. Materials and Construction

Seth Thomas clocks were known for their high-quality materials and construction. Clocks with solid wood cases, porcelain dials, and intricate brass movements will generally be worth more than those with cheaper materials.

6. Provenance/Historical Significance

Finally, a Seth Thomas clock with an interesting provenance or historical significance can be worth significantly more than a similar clock without such a background. For example, a clock that was owned by a famous person or that played a role in an important historical event would likely command a higher price.

Examples of Seth Thomas Clock Values

So, what can you expect to pay (or receive) for a Seth Thomas clock? Here are a few examples of Seth Thomas clocks that have sold at auction in recent years:

  • A Seth Thomas No. 2 Regulator wall clock from the 1870s sold for $35,000 in 2014.
  • An 1880s Seth Thomas office calendar clock with a walnut case sold for $13,000 in 2012.
  • A circa 1900 Seth Thomas Sonora chime mantel clock sold for $550 in 2019.
  • A Seth Thomas Adamantine mantel clock from the early 1900s sold for $275 in 2018.

As you can see, the value of Seth Thomas clocks can vary widely depending on the factors discussed above. A rare, early wall regulator in excellent condition can sell for tens of thousands of dollars, while a more common mantel clock from the early 20th century might sell for a few hundred dollars.

Identifying an Authentic Seth Thomas Clock

If you‘re in the market for a Seth Thomas clock, it‘s important to be able to identify an authentic piece. Unfortunately, there are many counterfeit Seth Thomas clocks out there, so it pays to do your homework. Here are a few tips for identifying a genuine Seth Thomas clock:

  • Look for the Seth Thomas label on the clock face or inside the case. Genuine labels will be made of paper or metal and will typically include the company name, location, and sometimes the model number.
  • Check the clock‘s movement. Seth Thomas used high-quality brass movements with intricate designs. If the movement looks cheap or is made of a different material, it may be a fake.
  • Examine the clock case and dial for signs of age and wear. A genuine antique Seth Thomas clock should show some signs of patina and aging, although beware of artificially distressed reproductions.
  • Compare the clock to known Seth Thomas models. Familiarize yourself with the different types of clocks Seth Thomas produced, and compare the clock in question to photos of authentic examples.

If you‘re unsure about the authenticity of a Seth Thomas clock, it‘s always best to consult with a professional appraiser or antique clock specialist. They can examine the clock in person and provide a more definitive assessment of its authenticity and value.

Getting a Seth Thomas Clock Appraised

If you own a Seth Thomas clock and want to get a sense of its value, it‘s a good idea to have it appraised by a professional. An appraisal can give you an idea of the clock‘s current market value and can also be useful for insurance purposes or estate planning.

When looking for an appraiser, try to find someone who specializes in antique clocks or even Seth Thomas clocks specifically. You can search for appraisers through professional organizations like the American Society of Appraisers or the International Society of Appraisers.

During the appraisal, the appraiser will examine the clock carefully, taking note of its condition, materials, and any identifying markings or labels. They may also research the clock‘s history and compare it to recent sales of similar pieces. Based on this information, they‘ll provide an estimate of the clock‘s value.

Keep in mind that appraisals are typically only valid for a certain period of time (often around 3-5 years), as market conditions can change. Also, an appraisal is just an estimate and does not guarantee that the clock will sell for that amount.

Tips for Buying and Collecting Seth Thomas Clocks

If you‘re interested in starting a collection of Seth Thomas clocks or are in the market for a specific piece, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Do your research. Learn as much as you can about the different types of Seth Thomas clocks and familiarize yourself with the factors that affect their value.
  • Buy from reputable dealers. Look for dealers who specialize in antique clocks and have a good reputation in the industry. Be wary of deals that seem too good to be true.
  • Inspect the clock carefully before buying. Examine the clock in person if possible and look for signs of authenticity and condition issues. Don‘t be afraid to ask the seller questions about the clock‘s history and provenance.
  • Consider the clock‘s condition. While it‘s rare to find an antique clock in perfect condition, look for pieces that are in good working order and have minimal damage or repairs.
  • Be patient. Building a collection of Seth Thomas clocks can take time and may require some searching to find the right pieces at the right price. Don‘t feel pressured to buy something just because it‘s a "good deal."

Caring for Your Seth Thomas Clock

Once you‘ve acquired a Seth Thomas clock, it‘s important to take proper care of it to ensure it stays in good condition and retains its value. Here are a few tips for maintaining your clock:

  • Keep the clock clean and dust-free. Use a soft, dry cloth to gently wipe down the case and clock face.
  • Keep the clock away from direct sunlight, heat, and moisture, which can damage the wood and metal components.
  • Have the clock serviced regularly by a professional. A clock repair specialist can clean and lubricate the movement and make any necessary repairs.
  • Wind the clock gently and regularly, following the manufacturer‘s instructions. Overwinding can damage the mainspring.
  • Avoid moving the clock unnecessarily, as this can disrupt the delicate movement and cause damage.

With proper care and maintenance, your Seth Thomas clock can continue to keep time and retain its value for generations to come.


Seth Thomas clocks are a testament to American craftsmanship and ingenuity, and they remain highly sought after by collectors today. While the value of these timepieces can vary widely based on factors like age, rarity, condition, and provenance, owning a piece of Seth Thomas history is truly priceless.

If you‘re considering buying or selling a Seth Thomas clock, be sure to do your due diligence and work with reputable professionals to ensure you‘re getting a fair deal. And if you‘re lucky enough to own one of these beautiful timepieces, cherish it and care for it properly so that it can be enjoyed for generations to come.

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