A rare clock – the Ingraham Huron – Part I

RS Ingraham Huron1
Ingraham Huron shelf clock

My most recent acquisition (April 2016) is an Ingraham Huron shelf clock. The Huron is one of the less commonly found Ingraham models, having been manufactured briefly between 1878-80.

The clock you see here is Rosewood Veneer “Huron” Shelf Clock, by E. Ingraham & Co., Bristol, Connecticut. It has paper on a zinc dial with a round glazed door and lower glass access panel. The maker’s label is inside the backboard. It is a brass eight-day spring-powered movement, with a height of just under 41 centimeters.

The case is in very good condition. The veneers are in excellent shape (no splitting or cracking), the clock face has a build-up of grime which I may leave as is, the base corner pieces have a little wear but the 2 door catches are sound, the glass is perfect, the door hinges are in very good condition and the doors, top and bottom, still fit with precision. The pendulum retains it’s original lacquer and presents well. I have not looked at the movement yet but a little push of the pendulum tells me that something is amiss. Could simply be wound down springs or something more involved. I will leave as is until I have the time to look at it further this coming week and I will post my findings later.

I asked the seller who is about 70 years old, “what do you know about this clock?”. He extended his hand palm down out to about a meter from the floor and said, “I was this tall when I can first remember it in my grandmother’s home”. There is a penciled marking just inside the case indicating that it had been serviced by a person by the name of Hebb in 1944. The seller recalls a Hebb family who at one time lived in the Bridgewater area of Nova Scotia near where I purchased the clock.

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Base of the Huron

The company had a long and renowned history. Elias Ingraham was the founder of this 19th-century Connecticut company that bore his name.

Ingraham won 17 patents between 1853 and 1873, all protecting the unique design of his clocks, most of which were made to hang flat on a wall or sit on a shelf.  Ingraham was able to devote his attention to the physical look of his clocks because the technology inside them was rapidly becoming commonplace. By the middle of the 19th century, spring-driven clockworks were replacing weight-based ones, which allowed clocks to be smaller and lighter. These innovations permitted Ingraham to focus on the look of his clocks in order to differentiate himself from his competitors.

RS Ingraham Huron (18)
Dial door clasp

And that is precisely what he did.  In 1844, he and his brother Andrew joined with Elisha Curtis Brewster to form the Brewster & Ingrahams (plural) company. The firm would become E. and A. Ingrahams Company in 1852, Elias Ingraham and Company in 1857, E. Ingraham & Company in 1861, The E. Ingraham & Company in 1881, and The E. Ingraham Company in 1885. These subtle name changes might seem overly petty, but they provide the modern collector of antique Ingraham clocks with a accurate way to date clock styles that were produced during a span of years.

Ingraham shelf clocks ranged from painted timepieces richly decorated with mother-of-pearl to round Venetian and Grecian styles clad in rosewood veneer and adorned with gilt columns. Versions of these shelf clocks were also created for walls—the Ionic style was so popular that Ingraham made it from 1862 until 1924.

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Clock face showing what I believe are original hands


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Side of clock showing striking veneer

In 1885, Elias’s son Edward took over the company and continued its innovation in clock case design. Double-dial wall and shelf clocks produced during this period told the time of day, the day of the week, and the month. As the 19th century wore on, Ingraham made mantel clocks with Chinese motifs and carved dragon’s feet, as well as a number of patriotic clocks depicting American war heroes.

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winding key looks home-made

The Ingraham Clock Company continued to produce clocks through the 1920s continuing with the tradition of unique clock cases with Oriental designs and patriotic themes. Throughout the war years the company diversified into pocket watches and wrist watches. During the post war period the Ingraham company continued to produce wall clocks, mantel clocks and wrist watches but by 1967 the company was acquired by McGraw-Edison who converted production into making more profitable fuses spelling the end of formal clock production and the end of the Ingraham tradition of producing uniquely designed clocks for the masses.

Much of the information for this post came from this site.

9 thoughts on “A rare clock – the Ingraham Huron – Part I

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