Shelf Clock, 1850s

This small clock from the early 1850s is unsigned, but its movement is likely from a Connecticut clock factory and its case is likely a product of the Litchfield Manufacturing Co., Litchfield, Conn. The Litchfield firm was America’s first paper-mâché factory, founded by English immigrants in 1851 and eventually employing about 50 men and women. The firm used a patented British process for mother-of-pearl inlay to decorate an array of goods in addition to clock cases, including tables, card cases, fire screens, boxes, vases and ornamental hinges and clasps. The Litchfield firm failed after a merger in the mid-1850s that bankrupted its major supporter, showman P.T. Barnum.
This clock’s base is made of wood, the body is made of black papier-mâché, with mother-of-pearl inlay and painted images on front and gilt edge paint. The white enamel dial features Roman numerals. The brass movement has steel mainsprings, and the entire clock is covered with glass dome.
DeVoe, Shirley Spaulding. "The Litchfield Manufacturing Company, makers of
japanned papier mache." Antiques, August 1960, 150-153.
Palmer, Brooks in “The Litchfield Manufacturing Company,” American Antiques
Journal, November 1949, 26-28.
Currently not on view
Object Name
table clock
date made
Litchfield Manufacturing Co.
overall: 11 1/4 in x 8 1/4 in x 5 1/2 in; 28.575 cm x 20.955 cm x 13.97 cm
face: 3 1/4 in; 8.255 cm
clock w/o dome and base: 20.6502 cm x 15.24 cm; 8 1/8 in x 6 in
place made
United States: Connecticut, Litchfield
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Measuring & Mapping
See more items in
Work and Industry: Mechanisms
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
James Arthur Collection, New York University

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