The 18th-Century Gallery

The 18th-Century Gallery features clocks from the United States and Europe. Although the mechanical technology is similar in both types, European clocks far surpassed American clocks during this period in artistry, dial design, and cabinetry.

It wasn’t until after 1700 that significant clockmaking activities began in the Colonies. Few early settlers could afford to own a clock, which was usually the most expensive article in a household. The elite few who did have enough money considered imported products superior to those of colonial workmanship. The earliest colonial clockmakers, hailing primarily from England (with a very small contingent from Ireland, Germany, and Holland), made their living repairing and selling imported timekeepers rather than producing new ones.

London remained the world’s most prominent clockmaking center until the 1800s. After the Industrial Revolution, English clockmaking gradually modernized, but not enough to compete with the German and US imports flowing into England. French cases of the period were often richly detailed and ornate, requiring the skills of one or more artisans.

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