Auction find – E. Ingraham & Co. Grecian shelf clock

I was the successful online bidder for an E. Ingraham Grecian time and strike shelf clock in early January 2021. My wife and I had to travel 3 hours, from one part of Nova Scotia to another, to pick the clock up but since we were taking a small staycation in the nearby area the antique shop was on our way.

It is a very interesting design and I researched not only this clock but the period that influenced its design.

Let’s travel back in time to Duncan Phyfe, a prominent American furniture designer (1768-1854). His interpretation of fashionable European trends made him a major influence in the Neoclassical movement in the United States impacting an entire generation of cabinet-makers. The era of Greek furniture design quickly came to the clock world in the form of “Grecian” clocks made by a number of clock manufacturers including Joseph Ives, E. N. Welch, Seth Thomas, and Ingraham.

This is the E. Ingraham & Co.’s interpretation of the Grecian clock, called appropriately enough, the “Grecian”.

Ingraham Grecian Harris and Sons auction photo
Ingraham Grecian, auction photo (with permission Harris & Sons)

The design is a classical influence and it is not only aesthetically pleasing to patrons of the nineteenth century but remains so today. It has a molded Rosewood bezel with carved volutes below the dial frame. The dial frame and bezel are one section that makes up the hinged front access door. I have seen walnut-cased versions and mosaic maple and walnut as well. The mosaic versions are probably the most desirable.

Elias Ingraham was a case designer and no doubt had a hand not only in the design but the choice of woods used for case construction.

Ingraham Grecian Harris and Sons auction photo
Ingraham Grecian auction photo (with permission Harris & Sons)

It has a paint-on-zinc dial, moon-shaped hands, and Roman chapters. The Grecian model was available as a 30-hour spring-driven, time and strike, 30-hour time and strike with alarm, 8-day time and strike, and 8-day time and strike with alarm. This one is the 8-day time and hour-strike alarm version. All models strike on a cast bell made of iron, or in this case, brass. Features such as exotic/mixed woods, alarm, and 8-day function would have been an extra charge at the time. The clocks were made between the years 1868 and 1883 with an 1880 catalog price of $5.25 for the 30-hour clock with alarm.

Ingraham Grecian Harris and Sons auction photo
Ingraham Grecian auction photo (with permission Harris & Sons)

It has a green triangular-shaped paper label inside the back panel of the case which is in fair condition. There are 3 patent dates on the label, September 30, 1862, March 31, 1868, and June 6th, 1871. The newest clocks of this model would have had October 8, 1878, and still newer, November 11, 1879 patent dates so, this clock was made after 1871 and before 1878. The fact that the clock can be dated within a 5 year period is a plus.

Ingraham Grecian alarm dial
Ingraham Grecian alarm dial auction photo (with permission Harris & Sons)

Once I receive the clock and look it over more carefully I will post my first impressions and the work that must be done to restore both the clock movement and the case to its former glory. Stay tuned.

2 thoughts on “Auction find – E. Ingraham & Co. Grecian shelf clock

  1. Ron – hi

    Really interesting post. I see from the detailed pictures that you will be faced with the conservationists v restorers dilemma – do you retain the nail which holds the hands in place or replace it with a tapered pin in the style it would presumably have had, originally? It’s a pretty clear cut decision from my point of view but I would be interested in yours – and your thoughts more generally would make an interesting post.

    It has a style which echoes that of the slightly more delicately featured clock in the picture attached, French, turn of the 19th/20th century which was given to me by a friend here in the UK.

    Keep up the great work.

    And do let me know if this is the best way to respond to your posts or whether there is another way I should be doing it.



    1. Thanks, Hugh. About 95% of my mail is sent to me personally at Interesting comments. I wrote two articles related to your reply. One article some time ago on minimal invasive intervention and another on the Ship of Theseus and antique clock restoration. Both of which make me think that after working on so many clocks over the years, my views might have changed and it would be interesting to revisit my thoughts on repair/restoration/conservation. Great idea!



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