Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Who's Who: Seth Thomas

Finnick’s Clock Museum in Vinalhaven boasts a number of varieties of clocks and timepieces, including some by this well-known clockmaker [The Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull; 103].

Seth "Bill" Thomas (1785-1859) was an American clockmaker and a pioneer of mass production at the clock company that he wisely decided to name after himself.

A native of Connecticut, Thomas apprenticed as a carpenter and worked building houses and barns but later got involved with the horological crowd around 1807. He eventually formed a clock-making partnership in Plymouth, Connecticut with other well-known clockmakers Eli Terry and Silas Hoadley. The name for their collective was Terry, Thomas & Hoadley – which should not be confused with Thomas Terry Hoar Stevens which is an altogether different entity, old bean.

Moving to Plymouth Hollow in 1813, there Thomas had his own factory to perfect the mass-production of his time pieces. He changed styles periodically: metal-movement to shelf and mantle pieces and then changing from brass to wooden movements. After he died in 1859 his company was passed down to his sons - Seth Thomas, Jr.; Aaron; and Edward – with Aaron leading the lion’s share of his father's line of work. The company manufactured clock movements for the Self Winding Clock Company of New York, which later would go on to manufacture the iconic four-dial clock in New York City's Grand Central Terminal.

The Seth Thomas Clock Company (or its name) has had a spotty history in the last half century, having been sold and re-sold and, since 2009, acquired by New York's Alliance Time Company.

Plymouth Hollow renamed itself Thomaston in (or around) 1866 in honor of Thomas and his work.

To learn more:

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