Histories of The Ansonia Clock Company

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Anson G. Phelps, a wealthy Connecticut importer of tin, brass, and copper, founded the Ansonia Clock Company in 1850, six years after he built a copper rolling mill near Derby, Connecticut. Phelps started the business with $100,000. He and his associates, Eli Terry and Franklin C. Andrews, advertised their firm in the Connecticut Business Directory with the following statement: “Ansonia Clock Company, Manufacturers and Dealers in Clocks and Timepieces of Every Description, Wholesale and Retail, Ansonia, Connecticut.”

Ansonia Clock

After a fire destroyed the factory in 1854, Phelps’ company moved to Ansonia, where it was renamed the Ansonia Brass and Copper Company. The company made clocks there from 1854 to

1878. When it moved its clock making operations to Brooklyn, New York in 1878, it was reorganized under its original name: the Ansonia Clock Company. In 1879, shortly after this move, a fire destroyed the factory. A year later, after completing a new factory in Brooklyn, Ansonia expanded its business. The company developed many new styles of clocks, and novelty and figurine clocks became a big part of its enterprise.

Ansonia introduced all sorts of wall and shelf clocks, including swing clocks. The company marketed imitation French clocks as well as novelties, such as the “Bobbing Doll” and “Swinging Doll,” which it patented in 1855 and 1859 respectively. An 1889 catalog of Ansonia clocks featured three versions of the Bobbers, called Jumper No. 1, Jumper No. 2, and Jumper No. 3. Ansonia was known for its diversity of clock types; many of the older and unusual ones have been reproduced, including the “Bobbing” and “Swinging” dolls.

The company’s specialty clocks included the swing clocks, in which female figures held swinging pendulums. Also popular were the Royal Bonn porcelain shelf varieties and the statue clocks, which the company advertised as figure clocks. Among its novelty clocks, the Crystal Palace, Sonnet, Helmsmen, and Army and Navy clocks have proved to be excellent collector’s items and have rapidly increased in value. The clocks were marked “New York” as their place of origin.

Just prior to World War I, Ansonia had sales representatives in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, India, and a score of other countries. After the conclusion of the war, its business deteriorated in quality and dropped significantly in the number of clocks produced. Manufacturing stopped in the spring of 1929. By the end of that year, the company’s material assets were sold to the Russian government. Sad as it was to accept, this great clock manufacturing company, as creative as any other American clock company, was defunct after the summer of 1929.