Dorrin K Mace, Horologost

Dorrin K Mace, Horologost
The Clock Man in a pensive moment

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The New England Clock Company

I have had many "New England Clock Company" clocks cross my workbench during the past few decades, and am amazed as the variety of cases and movements this company produced.
The New England Clock Company has roots dating back to around 1835 when Jonathan Clark Brown and a bunch of investors started up a business named the Forestville Manufacturing Company in Forestville, Connecticut. Forestville is a section of Bristol where my father and uncles "Phillips Automotive" sold and serviced International Harvester trucks and Studebaker Packard automobiles. Forestville Manufacturing went bankrupt about 25 years later and Eliha Nils Welch, one of the debtors, absorbed it by default. For 10 years, he ran a tight ship and the company prospered. It was renamed the E. N. Welch Manufacturing Company in 1864. Welch produced a number of clocks including movements for other clock manufacturing companies and specialized in producing various springs for mechanical devices.

At the turn of the 20th century, E. N. Welch clock company wasn't doing very well. As part of their manufacturing process, they used a local foundry just down the road in order to produce castings. The foundry owner's son, William Sessions, took an interest in horology and bought the controlling stock in the E. N. Welch Company. In 1903, Welch jumped out and the Sessions Clock Company was organized. Under William's authority, the Sessions Clock Company produced everything required for their line of clocks .. movements, cases, dials, artwork and of coarse, castings.

Sessions realized that the future of clock making was turning to electricity, so in 1930, the company expanded to produce electric clocks, timers for radios, televisions and other devices. They also kept producing traditional brass mechanical movements. In 1956, Sessions was absorbed by a company interested mainly in their timing devices. Kept as the Sessions Company, the new owners ran the operation until 1969 when the decline in business forced its liquidation.

William K. Sessions, grandson of William E., disliked working for the new company, so in 1959, he left to form The New England Clock Company. Wm Session  had a place called "Sessions Woods",  Bill worked out of his cellar designing a kind of contemporary collection of clocks; however, colonial was in at that time so the New England Clock Company emphasized colonial timepieces with floral decoration. With the advice of his wife Phebe, they also organized The Connecticut Clock Company. Phebe became the president. Nils Magnus Tornquist, an industrial designer produced many innovative manufacturing ideas and case designs. During the late 1960's, they even manufactured a cuckoo clock "The American Cuckoo Bird", a rarity in modern American clock making. Ten years later, they offered clock kits. Connecticut Kits were somewhat pricy, but well-worth it. The kits offered no choices such as inexpensive dials or movements. Their Abel Cotty line of grandfather clocks was named after America's first clock maker (circa 1655).

The New England Clock Company moved three times before ending up in Farmington, CT. Old Bill Sessions was no longer around and the company was absorbed by a group of investors left-over from International Silver Company in the late 80's. Their modern, one story plant produced traditional and transitional styles as well as historical reproductions of the past. Although fitted with German mechanical movements, the clocks were entirely made in the USA. Their case work was superb, but the cost of operation in today's American society proved overwhelming. In late 1999 The New England Clock Company was going under and there were dumpsters outside the building loaded with all kinds of goodies. By 2000 the dumpsters had disappeared., The New England Clock Company followed the road taken by all of the other clock companies that formed its history.

12 comments:

  1. My wife and I have a cottage clock, that says bristol conn.on it and it has two wind up ports. can you tell us witch port is witch?
    It was given to me by an old friend that has passed many years ago.
    We would just like to know when it was made, it says 214c

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    1. I also have the same clock as yours that someone gave to me. My number on it says 212c.can you tell me anything about it? My home #is 6038923603 my name is joshua

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  2. I am looking for the bird weathervane brass ornament for a Bristol Clock Co Chalet Wall Clock. Does anyone have this part ?
    If you do please Email me at sfsettle@yahoo.com

    The left weight controls the Chime and right controls the Time.

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  3. I'm looking for a key to wind my NE Clock. The flats on the shafts are 1/8" across.

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  4. i have a forestville mantal clock with two matching lamps was giving to me by my gratgrama its electric so thinking it was made in 1930s any help info would be great ty yvonne

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  5. I bought myself a Contemporary Schoolhouse Clock Kit from this company when I was 22 back in the early 80's. Having grown up in CT with an antique Seth Thomas school house clock ticking away in my parents kitchen, I just had to continue the tradition (in a more modern way : D ) when I moved out on my own. I asked my Dad to build the kit with me & it was a wonderful father/daughter project. Now at 56, I still have that beautiful contemporary schoolhouse clock in our kitchen in North Florida. My Dad, being the meticulous woodworker that he is, put that kit together beautifully way back when & with so much love that I smile inside whenever I hear it chime. I was wondering if there are any maintenance tips I need to perform in order to keep this ticking for decades to come. Thanks!

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  6. I was looking at a grandfather clock that has a W.K. Sessions face and said "made in Germany". However the research I'm doing doesn't seem to support the made in Germany tag. I'm trying to see if it's worthwhile or it's a knock off. Any help would be appreciated.

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  7. I have a New England Clock co Grandmother clock #269 that I cannot find out anything about. I would like to sell it and am trying to do my research

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    1. I have same clock and can't find anything either

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  8. I have a New England 31 day calendar clock # 271g and not sure on the movement number of what is in it or what the correct movement number is suppose to be. Clock is in great shape with no scratches or bangs. I would like to get it running. I know that the movement has to have a function to be able to work the calendar hand. Still trying to research this for more info. Any info would be appreciated. Thanks !!

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  9. I have a New England Steeple clock #212c. Would like to know the value of so I can price it for sale. Thank You

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    1. The fast reply is "Whatever the market will bear" The correct response is, I need to know where you are located, I need to know the condition of the movement (has it been maintained, is it running, does it have proper repairs done), as well as the condition of the case. If you can email me photos as well as a general location, I can give you a reasonable estimate of selling price.

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