FIRST Seth Thomas “Outside Bell” Ships Clock, Dated April 10,
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Seth Thomas, America’s oldest clock maker started operations
in 1813. Their Nautical clocks first appeared in the 1860’s and were the official US Navy Ships’ clock for almost 100 years.
Presented is a superb and
extremely rare example of the famous Seth Thomas Outside Bottom Bell Ships clock from when it may have been FIRST
INTRODUCED on April 10, 1878. We have never seen one like it before except in books and catalogs and we were the
company that sold the one that had a patent dated Nov 4, 1879 three years ago. The inside is formed by a wooden
frame in which the movement is mounted which makes this different from all the others we have sold over the years. The placement
of the seconds bit in a recessed dial is also a most distinctive feature which was discontinued with this model, never to
reappear. The Arabic numerals on a white background make reading the time easy. The clock has been recently serviced by a
master clock maker and is in fine mechanical condition keeping good time and striking the bells with a sharp tone.
The Seth Thomas – Outside Bottom Bell is considered
the ‘Classic’ American ship’s clock. Few of these true working ship’s clocks have survived in the fine original condition
of this example or are anywhere near this age.
These very handsome clocks strike ‘Ship’s Bells’ through
a double strike system which is unique to Seth Thomas and makes a most distinctive sound. They were intended to be hung
on the bulkheads of a ship’s pilot houses, captain’s cabins,etc., and could be found in vessels ranging from the most luxurious
yachts to battleships! One of these clocks was recovered from the wreck of the USS MAINE and presented to Franklin Delano
Roosevelt when he was Secretary of the Navy.
The clock strikes Ship’s Bells through a double strike
system marking off the series of four hour watches that make up the sailor’s day. Each four hour watch is divided into half
hour periods tolled from one through eight bells. When the chiming gets out of sequence the clock has a “wire pull” that
makes it easier to coordinate the chime sequence with the time with out moving the hands. The clock runs for two days.
For best accuracy it should be wound daily.
While one of the most decorative ship’s clocks ever designed,
the Seth Thomas ‘Outside Bell’ was intended for real work. Consequently, relatively few have survived the effects of rough
usage, years at sea, and salt water corrosion to come down to today’s collector in the fine condition of this example.
Very clean face
Striking bell movement wood frame
Maker’s name upper right
Old catalog sheet
The clock came from the factory with a polished nickel
plated cartridge brass case. This clock has acquired an especially attractive age patina and retains 95% of its original
plating. The dial is in excellent condition with original blued steel hands. The case has the especially
pleasing untouched patina that knowledgeable collectors search for. It is mounted on an old wooden backboard ready
for display in the home or use at sea…..a great looking collector’s clock with exceptional charm .