Seth Thomas mantel clock – detailing makes a difference

This Victorian period Seth Thomas mantel clock was in very good condition when I bought it close to 20 years ago. It sat on an upright piano until it was serviced in December 2017.

Image from October 2000, atop a Willis upright piano

During servicing 4 bushings were installed. The clock was then relocated to another room.

The clock would certainly benefit from detailing

The model is not actually called the Adamantine. Adamantine is a chemical process applied to the clock case and it was meant to be an inexpensive alternative to onyx or marble. An expensive looking clock for the masses! Adamantine veneer was developed by the Celluloid Manufacturing Company of New York City in 1880 and the Seth Thomas Clock Company purchased the rights to use Adamantine veneer in 1881.

Rear showing time and strike movement

I have seen many Adamantine clocks on online sites and antique shops and on some the scroll detailing is visible which leads me to think that the gold coloured paint that once filled the detail on this clock case and others has been long gone.

After detailing
Close up view of left side

To recreate the original effect I filled in the detailing with water-based gold acrylic paint. With water based paint a wet rag is used to wipe away the excess paint. It looks complicated but it is not difficult. The effect is more subtle than dramatic but I believe it accentuates the fine scrolling which was the intent of the original design. Some might feel that the patina should be preserved but I take the view that this is what it was meant to look like when it was purchased in 1899.

Does recreating an original detail improve an old clock? Certainly!

New home atop a 1937 Westinghouse console radio