Antique Mantel Clocks Identification & Value: Expert Guide

If you are a potter head, you must have dreamt of an old mantel clock for your desk. But what if I told you that you can turn rich with it? Well, yes, mantel clocks, mainly the 1700s ones, are very precious. And their unique designs make them a great collectible worldwide!

But how do you identify vintage mantel clocks for good resale? Don’t worry! I’ve prepared a guide on the antique mantel clock identification and valuation to help you before time ticks out!

Key Takeaways

  • Look out for white dials, curved brass walls, and key hands to get vintage mantel clocks. And don’t forget to check their logos and DRGM numbers to trace age!
  • Pick nature or building-shaped bird, pyramid, or palace-like shelf clocks for good returns.
  • Steel or Glass clocks are new and brittle. So, pick the cast-iron, bronze, or brass clocks for an old make.
  • Pick ‘Sessions’ or ‘Havens’ Bracket or Ansonia clocks for a high cost. And you can also look for unique maroon or navy dials to hike the price.

Notable Identification Features Of Antique Mantel Clocks

Mantel Clocks

Did you notice those old clocks with dark wood sides, carvings, and panels in thriller movies? Antique mantel clocks look exactly the same!

Old mantel clocks have quartz dials and stamps that can help you track their age and brand. And if you are lucky, you could get the tax bills and boxes that tell their story!

But what makes your vintage shelf clocks more authentic?

  • Mahogany, Marble, or Cast-iron frames with thick, porcelain dials
  • Mechanical or key-operated hands with brass plates and anchors
  • Stamped logos and hand-blown dials with brown, white, or black walls
  • 2-3 keyholes, winding springs, and large, curved chimes
  • Numbered dials, loop-like hands, and rectangular casings
  • Floral carvings, golden borders, and carved handles

History & Evolution of Mantel Clocks

Do you know that the aristocrats designed the first shelf clock to look wealthier? Box-like and carved, these 1700 AD French clocks had brass sides and white dials. You could also spot square bases, legs, and vases in these.

Then came the typical English shelf clocks of the 1800s. These clocks look different with their round tops, cherry wood walls, and spade-like hands. And don’t miss out on their gold borders and jeweled faces. They’ll make your shelf clock unique and valuable!

The later 19th-century clocks were very simple and ordinary. Although they were portable, they had plain, wood sidings and painted dials. And these clocks were mass-produced, so, obviously, you can’t expect a high value for these.

6 Types of Antique Mantel Clocks (With Values)

Our ancestors back then had a smart way of sorting things. For example, they split the models into six types of antique clocks based on their costs. Let’s take a look!

1. Ansonia Mantel Clocks (1870s – 1900s)

Ansonia Mantel Clock

You might know the typical pendulum clocks and gears. Ansonia clocks look the same but sit in a box and feature jewels. You’ll also find unique paper dials, winding wheels, and spring gears, costing $800 – 1200.

2. Atmos Shelf Clocks (1930s – 1940s)

You’ll easily spot these Swiss clocks with their wheels, brass cases, and pointed hands. These clocks don’t have batteries and work on temperature difference and gas. So they aren’t very practical; you can value them for $600 – 700.

3. Bracket Mantel Clocks (1700s – 1720s)

Bracket Clock
Image: CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bracket mantel clocks have square faces, arches, and bell tops. You’ll get them in the fragrant rose, satinwood, or dark paper dials. And since these are old and handmade, you can expect them to cost $1000 – 1500.

4. Steeple Rack Clocks (1750s – 1800s)

Steeple Rack Clocks
Image: G_N_Frykman (talk) (Uploads), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Steeple clocks are castle-themed clocks with short towers, triangle tops, and quartz faces. But you’ll also find some fancy floral works and Roman letters on their dials.

But steeple clocks work on a pendulum and might turn rusty and noisy with time. So, they have a lower valuation of $200 – 300.

5. Skeleton Shelf Clocks (1840s – 1860s)

Skeleton Shelf Clocks
Image: Rauantiques, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Just as the name suggests, skeleton rack watches have visible parts and wheels. And they mostly have white-bordered dials, roman letters, and brass-coated parts. Plus, they come with smaller legs and frames, making them lightweight and portable.

But, skeleton shelf clocks might catch rust and stop working with time. So, they are inexpensive, around $350 – 400.

6. Tambour Mantel Clocks (1900s – 1920s)

Tambour mantel clocks are curved, wave-like clocks with round dials and long bases. Branded by AMS or Hermle, these British clocks cost $500 with their rich wood walls.

8 Factors to Identify & Value Antique Mantel Clocks

Antique desk clocks are worth $500 – 600 if they have solid brass, marble, or granite sides. Also, look for crude polishes, rusted gears, and labels to hike the cost by 2 – 3%. You can easily value your old mantel clocks with their shapes, labels, and age, using the instructions below!

1. Mantel Clock’s Age

Unique Mantel Clock Shape

We all love aged, brownish clocks, right? So, if you want such rustic, intricate clocks, pick the 1700s models. But if you want good returns, then the 1800s models are best!

But, electroplated clocks from the late 1900s are commercial. So, they aren’t that unique and cost up to $100, based on their factory finish and wood walls.

How Can I Tell How Old My Mantel Clock Is?

How Do You Identify Clocks from the 1700s?

You can spot these clocks by their brass or iron walls and motifs. Most of them will be about 7-10 inches in height. So they’ll be portable and easy to fit, costing up to $5000.

But these clocks won’t usually have any logo or stamp. So, you’ll need to look for curved profiles, white dials, and painted or animal-shaped silhouettes to identify them.

How Do You Identify Clocks from the 1800s?

Look out for solid stone or white marble sides with cube bases to identify these! You’ll also find shiny gold surfaces and jewels on their dials. These clocks cost around $3000.

How Do You Identify Clocks from the 1900s?

These thin steel or plastic shelf clocks are factory-made. You might even get embossed dates, DRGM numbers, or logos to track them easily. But, they have low demand and value, up to $200.

Here are some DRGM (Deutsche Reich Gebraumeister) numbers for your reference:

YearClock AgeDRGM numberManufacturerValuation
1900123 years916380Howard Miller$800 – 900
1920103 years1030907Westminster$750 – 820
192598 years779005Kienzle Clock$500 – 600

Pick handmade Cast-iron or marble shelf clocks for an old make and finish.

2. Shelf Clock Shape

Shelf Clock Shape

Yes, a shelf clock’s shape impacts its value more than you can imagine! The clock costs more if it has old, natural bird or angel shapes. But, it costs only up to $200 if it is cuboidal. And you can also look for some arches or mountain carvings to hike the costs!

Shape of the ClockAverage Valuation
Angel, Bird or Human-shaped$900 – 1500
Beehive or Floral$400 – 500
Churches, Palaces and Buildings$300 – 350
Mountains and Pyramid-shaped$200 – 300
Loop-like or ohm-shape$200 – 250
Rectangle or Square$50 – 200

Pick arched or cut-out clock hands for an old make.

3. Dial Color

Old Mantel Clock with Colored Dial

Here’s the deal! The lighter the dial, the older the clock! So, it’s the lighter white, lemon, beige, or tan dials that fetch good returns. And, if you love them colored, get limited-edition maroon or navy dials.

Other than that, bold orange or brown antique desk clocks are newer and cheaper. And even metallic silver or bronze dials are a big no!

Mantel Clock Dial ColorYearAge (years)Average Valuation
White or Lemon Yellow1700322$200 – 250
Maroon or Navy1750272$250 – 300
Gold, Peach or Amber1750272$250 – 300
Dark Brown, Orange or Rust1800222$90 – 100
Beige, Tan or Khaki1800222$80 – 90
Crude wood Dials1820202$150 – 200
Black or Silver Dials1900122$70 – 100
Blue, Green or Red1920102$40 – 50

White dials might look yellowish or brownish with time. So, spray some vinegar and dab it lightly to confirm the color.

4. Antique Mantel Clock Brands

Branded shelf clocks
Image: Mark James Miller, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you love shiny, old mantel clocks, get the branded ones from the 1800s. And to check that, look for logos and trademarks on their dials and cases. Plus, you might find traces of gold and other jewels on their frames and chimes.

You can also expect some lock-key doors and lockers with them! So, if you find some printed names like ‘Haven,’ ‘Seth Thomas,’ or ‘Howard Miller’ on your clock dial, then Congrats! You are about to make $400 – 500!

Want to know more? Check out these popular brands for high returns:

Clock NameManufacturerYearValuation
Open Escapement Mantel ClockAnsonia1890 – 1910$250 – 300
Butterscotch Mantel ClockSeth Thomas1890$150 – 200
Bakelite Mantel ClockFerranti1920$100 – 120
Tambour Mantel ClockIngraham1920$140 – 150

Never buy acrylic or glass clocks as these may be new, first-edition models.

5. Clock Materials

Antique Metal Mantel Clock

Antique desk clocks have five materials – brass, stone, wood, iron, and porcelain. Of these, the metal or stone shelf clocks are handmade and valuable. In contrast, wood clocks are new and polished. Plus, they might have some stain or paint that lowers their value by 3-4%.

Let’s look at this table of clock materials and their expected value:

MaterialYearAverage Valuation
Brass or Bronze1700$800 – 1000
Stone – Marble, Slate, Granite1750s$900 – 950
Cast-Iron or Alloyed Steel1800$700 – 850
Porcelain1800$800 – 850
Wood – Cherry, Oak or Mahogany1900s$350 – 500
Plastic1920s$40 – 50

Wind the clock and check if it works properly before resale. Usually, working clocks are very precious and earn up to $500 worldwide.

6. Stamps & Dates

Marble Clock
Image: AnonymousUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

One way to track your mantel clock’s age is to check the stamps from the dial surface. If those are embossed or etched, price your clock up to $200. But, if it’s paper, $30 is enough.

You can also easily look for dates or codes to track the mantel clock. But note that you’ll find the years in reverse order and the months written as A-L, where A means January, B means February, and so on.

7. Hand Movement

Antique mantel clocks will always have mechanical hand movements. That means you’ll need to wind the clock at least once in 8 days for it to work. You’ll also get clocks with 14-day or 31-day wounds, but they are rare and cost $500 – 1000.

On the contrary, battery-operated clock hands will be new and cheap at $40 – 50.

Look for a gap of at least 0.5 inches between the clock hands and the numbers. Newer hands touch the numbers directly and are cheaper.

8. Clock Bells

Antique mantel clocks have 1-3 holes on their bells. Usually, three-hole clock bells ring every hour. But two-hole ones set off in half an hour, whereas one-hole ones are custom-set. So naturally, the three-holed clocks are old and translate to more money at $200 – 300.

What Are the Two Winding Holes on My Old Mantel Clock?

The two winding holes are switches that control your clock’s working and dials. Here, you’ll need to wind the left hole to power the hands and hourly strikes of the clock and the right hole to set the chimes or alarms.

How Do I Maintain an Antique Mantel Clock?

Maintaining vintage mantel clocks is very easy! Just dab the surface with a soft cloth, wind their keys, and you are all done! You can also rub them with anti-rust solutions if they start to catch fungus.

Antique mantel clocks grab many eyeballs with their exclusive shapes and colors. Usually, curved, white-dialed, or ‘branded’ clocks get the best deal! Or, you can check their labels, hands, and keys to spot them better.

However, there are a lot of ‘fake’ mantel clocks in the market. So, you must check their materials and bases beforehand. The same holds true for an old oil lamp too! But don’t worry! We already have all the tricks to help you identify ‘antique oil lamps’ easily.

Judith Miller
Judith Miller

Judith is an antique expert with nearly 20 years of experience in the field of antique identification and valuation. She has reviewed over 30 thousand vintage items and has worked with numerous antique shops. She enjoys seeing new places, attending antique shows and events, and sharing her knowledge with people! Know more about me

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