Pennsylvania Clocks and Watches: Antique Timepieces and Their Makers

Front Cover
Pennsylvania State University Press, 1984 - Antiques & Collectibles - 312 pages

A history of timepieces made in Pennsylvania from William Penn's time to the present, this book is more than a compendium of clock and watchmakers and their work. With abundant illustrations and lore from historians in every part of the state, it recreates a time when clock and watchmaking was not a mere occupation: it was truly a craft. The author attributes this characteristic to the Keystone State's unusually varied population, and explores the various "old world" influences affecting the design and style of timepieces.

The story of clock and watchmaking from colonial Philadelphia to Pittsburgh's Golden Triangle is a major chapter in the history of industry, trade, tastemaking, and craftsmanship. Clocks of finely carved wood decorated the homes of prosperous early settlers, and golden watchcases adorned their persons; meanwhile, clocks on Independence Hall and other public buildings measured the hours for the general citizenry. As time passed, more utilitarian clocks graced schools and factories, while Hamilton watches kept the trains running on time. Resisting the temptation to lower standards for the sake of mass production, Pennsylvania clock and watchmakers gained fame for their high-quality craftsmanship. The making of clocks and watches is detailed by Dr. Gibbs from its beginning in the southeastern counties of William Penn Country, through the Pennsylvania Dutch Country and the center of the Commonwealth, and on to the state's northern and western frontiers.

The craftsmen are presented in historical context, with emphasis on their social and educational backgrounds and the effect of these on their timepieces. Separate sections focus on illustrious clockmakers such as the Ellicott and Solliday families, Jacob Detweiler Custer, and the master of horology and astronomy, Dr. David Rittenhouse.

Pennsylvania Clocks and Watches is an indispensable handbook for the experienced collector and a stimulating guide for the beginner. It is also a valuable reference for students of industrial and social history, design, and folkways.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


William Venn Country
Berks County
Lancaster County

14 other sections not shown

Common terms and phrases

About the author (1984)

James W. Gibbs is the author of Dixie Clockmakers , Buckeye Horology , and Shaker Clock Makers . A past president of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, Gibbs is a trustee of the American Watch and Clock Museum and a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts.

Bibliographic information