Seth Thomas started making clocks in Plymouth, Connecticut in the early 1800s, originally using wood for the plates and gears (interchangeable parts) like other clockmakers at that time. By about 1840 he had switched to using sheet brass that became available from the local rolling mills. This material was much less expensive than the sheet brass that had to be imported in earlier decades from England, and the parts could now be stamped out. The result was the start of mass production of relatively inexpensive brass clock movements and clocks. Thousands were shipped to Britain.
Seth Thomas the man died in the late 1850s, but his company continued in business for more than a century. In 1931 Seth Thomas Clocks became part of General Time Corporation, which owned Westclox.
In Canada, Seth Thomas brand mantel, alarm and wall clocks were made in the Westclox factory in Peterborough, Ontario until the mid 1980s when the factory closed.
In this Gallery are shown from our museum's collections some of the typical Seth Thomas brand clocks made in the 20th century in the Peterborough factory. Both time & strike (on the hour and half hour) and chiming (on the quarter hours) spring-driven pendulum movements were used in the mantel clocks, depending on the model. In addition, some models were available with an electric motor. The chiming pendulum movements were brought in from the American Westclox factory. Their RD 1931 alarm clocks had high-quality balance-wheel movements made in the Peterborough Westclox factory.
Note that back in the mid 19th century many weight-driven Seth Thomas mantel clocks were brought into Canada West (Ontario today) from the Plymouth, Connecticut factory by peddlars in Leeds County east of Kingston and by sellers in the Toronto and Hamilton area. Examples of those clocks will be shown soon in a separate Gallery on our site.