Antique Seth Thomas Black Adamantine Mantel Clock 1893 Runs Nicely Time & Strike
Manufactured by Seth Thomas of Thomaston, Connecticut in March of 1893, this is a very nice condition and fully operating example of their classic Black Mantel Clock series, produced in the late 1800’s with their newly adopted cabinet finish process using new materials called Marbeline and Adamantine (soon to both be collectively known as Adamantine), and later destined to become a focal trait sought by many collectors. Selected by it’s already being reference to a particularly hard type of stone and it’s use as a term defining great strength and durability, the name’Adamantine’ would now also refer to the process of essentially “heat-shrink-wrapping” the outer, finish surfaces of a wood clock cabinet in a thin layer of a celluloid material primarily made in a solid color of black or white, and also produced in a variety of blended colors meant to imitate the look of natural marble, onyx, and some woodgrain. Market, though priced beyond what most American households of the day could afford. Seth Thomas touted the new finish as “very durable, and will not chip, scratch, or dent under normal usage, and a washable surface for easy cleaning without damage to the polish”. To my thinking, this sounded like a highly optimistic claim for them to have made at the time, but after working to restore/refurbish several of the Adamantine clocks, I must admit to the Adamantine materials’ most definitely possessing a long-lasting durability and capacity to prevent/reduce denting through impact that would otherwise frequent these cabinets constructed from a variety of softer, white-wood species of lumber. Also surprising is the Adamantine’s ability to maintain, or easily restored, to a high gloss finish, looking much as it did when new, on a cabinet now in excess of 100 years in age. On this clock’s cabinet, the primary Adamantine is solid black, with brown/tan marbleized finish accents above and below the gilt-finished half columns on either side of the clock’s face. All of these surfaces are the original Adamantine material, without use or addition of any wax or other treatment to create or enhance it’s high-gloss look; the cabinet was restored to the surface you now see through being cleaned of any dirt/oil and then lightly buffed by hand and nothing more. The cabinet’s surfaces are overall in extremely nice condition, with only a minimum of small, mild dents, almost unseen, located around the cabinet, with a’grouping’ of more moderate’dents’ located on the top surface at the right rear corner area, with a moderately visible impact damage found on the front right corner of the radiused trim layer just below the top. The damaged corner is the point of focus in photo #8, which was taken as a “macro” image, and in fact exacerbates the true extent of the damage, appearing far worse in this image than it actually is when being viewed normally, without the aid of strong magnification. The’grouped’ dents in the top are closely shown in image #17, where you also see the aforementioned corner in a more accurate manner. Image #10 is a close-up of one end of the soundboard/bottom enclosure to the clock, showing the Seth Thomas manufacturing code marking commonly used during the period. For those unfamiliar with this, the method for marking the date of manufacture used by Seth Thomas was by printing the 4-digit year in reverse, followed by a single letter indicating the month, and most commonly all in a’stencil’ type of character. As a portion of the dating here is hard to photograph visibly and harder to make out, I’ve overlaid the image with a stencil-like font printing of the actual date marking for ease of comparison, and showing the date marking matched as 3981C, which translates to the year of 1893, and’C’ designating the third month, March. All these pieces were removed from the cabinet, stripped to bare metal and cleaned of any contaminates before being refinished in a three-phase process of base color coating followed by a clear mid-coat which creates a visual depth in finish, after which applying a custom mica blended accent/shading coat in a clear suspension, lastly sealed in a two-coat clear automotive lacquer for protection of the finish against impact damages and fading/yellowing from UV exposure. The 4-1/2 inch dial face’s enumeration and decoration was restored, by hand, to match the original color scheme/decoration it was received with and appearing to be original, before also receiving a two-coat clear finish. The hands, also, have not been changed and presumed to be original. No damage or missing detail was found in any of the metal trims/accents, or dial components. The bezel closes firmly and securely, with only a minimal’drop’ in the hinge when opened, not of an amount to be considered “slop” or loose. The clock movement is in good working order, and keeping very good time (running in my offices for over 6 months now). It is marked, both front and back, with the Seth Thomas’ST in a diamond box’ logo and’Seth Thomas – Thomaston, Connecticut’. No damage or wear issues were found. On the back wall of the clock, below the access door and seen closely in image #11, is a Seth Thomas label. This is not an original label, but a widely used photocopy label produced from an original, providing the owner with a little added, accurate detail that would have been present originally. The pendulum bob and key which came to me with the clock are presumed original, and are included in this sale. The movement is the #89 8-Day Time & Strike mechanism with Cathedral Coil Gong, announcing the half-hour with a single strike, and full run denoting the time on the hour. The overall dimensions of the clock are: 11 in. H x 17 in. W x 7 in. Be sure to check out all the item photos. Feel free to ask any questions; I’ll be happy to help.