Bloke - a brief history of mantel clocks

Bloke - a brief history of mantel clocks

Cloudnola’s Bloke series and its bulky design are the perfect mix between a minimalistic, Scandinavian design and a mantel clock from the past. It came into existence when Cloudnola design team decided to offer a more robust, but still fashionable and colorful alarm clock, that could perfectly fit any shelf or mantel.

"A clock on a mantel ?", you may think. "Such a bizarre idea !".

Well, let us tell you a bit more about the history of these clocks, and why they originally fitted so well above a fireplace. 


French mantel clock, circa 1700

Mantel clocks first became fashionable in France in the mid-1700, and were decorating the fireplaces of royal palaces of French kings. At that time already, these clocks were mostly used as a real décor item, rather than just a functional product. They were made from brass and wood, full of detailed ornaments, and most of the time accompanied by little statues or vases.

But the French weren’t the only ones to make mantel clocks: they also came into fashion in England at the end of the 18th century, and later in the US, when clockmaker Seth Thomas popularized them at the end of the 19th century.


English mantel clock, circa 1750 and Seth Thomas's mantel clock, circa 1900

At that time, of course, clocks weren’t powered by batteries; if you wanted your clock to give you an accurate time, you had to wind it up with a special key. Some of them could last until fifteen days until you had to wind them up again! Of course, more recent mantel clocks exist, and function with a quartz mechanism and a classic battery.

Today, these antique mantel clocks are considered as real collection items, and some of them can be worth several thousand dollars in auctions.

They come in every shape and size, depending on the clockmaker, the date of making and the country they were produced in, all of it to perfectly go with the fashion trends of their time and place.

That's what we wanted to do with our Bloke series: clocks that fit their era, while being decorative and fashionable, and still being conscious of their heritage from the past.


So now, why is it called a mantel clock?

In fact, they were given that name because of their size: at a time were clocks used to be massive and imposing, these clocks were just small enough to be placed on the top of a mantel. It’s a simple as that!

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