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Page 1: Ansonia History - Antique Clocks Guy Antique Clocks and Mechani

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Ansonia Clock Company

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Page 2: Ansonia History - Antique Clocks Guy Antique Clocks and Mechani


Crystal Palace

No.1 Extra

No. 502

New York, N.Y.

Historically, Ansonia Clock Company did nothave its roots in Ansonia, the Connecticuttown after which it was named, but some 35miles northeast in the great clockmaking

town of Bristol. In 1841, Theodore Terry,nephew of Eli Terry the man who had startedthe manufacture of inexpensive clocks in thefirst decade of the 19th century, formed apartnership with one Franklin C. Andrews.The new firm of Terry & Andrews was to toolup and manufacture inexpensive brassclocks.

On August 13, 1841, Theodore Terry of Bristoland Franklin C. Andrews of New Yorkpurchased two parcels of land, one noted" being the same ground my sawmill

stood & one other building that was burnt... "from Theodore's father, retired clockmaker

Samuel Terry, for $3,000.00. Samuel Terryextended a mortgage for the entire propertyto Terry & Andrews which was payable tenyears from date, only interest due annually.III A history of clockmaking published in theBristol Herald in 1890 noted "...In 1841, thefactory built by Samuel Terry near the rollingmill dam, was burned while occupied by Ray& Carpenter making 'OG' cases and Terry &Andrews making movements. Mr. Terry builtup the shop again and it was occupied byTheodore Terry and Franklin Andrews, underthe company name of Terry & Andrews."

During the remainder of the 1840's the Terry& Andrews business prospered and 30xhourand 8xday spring driven models were addedto the line of 30-hour weight-driven clocks.After the destruction of the Chauncey Jerome

factory in 1845 and Jerome's subsequentremoval of the remainder of his business toNew Haven, Conn., Terry & Andrews became

the largest clock manufacturers in Bristol. InJune of 1850, they reported $50,000 invested


Regulator No. 17

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in capital, were employing 58 hands and hadproduced about 25,000 clocks, valued at$75,000, in the previous 12 months. Onereport on Bristol manufacturers in 1850 notedTerry & Andrews "are called as safe a firm asany in town, pay well, you can trust them allthey ask for. . ."

By 1850, Terry & Andrews was annually using58 tons of brass, so it is not surprising thatTheodore Terry was one of several Bristolclockmakers who were incorporators of theBristol Brass & Clock Company in April, 1850and subscribed for 266 shares, an investment

of $6,650.00. However, about this time AnsonG. Phelps, a wealthy industrialist from NewYork who operated large foundry operationsat Birmingham (now Derby), CT, persuadedTerry & Andrews to leave Bristol and become

allies with his foundry operations.

Terry & Andrews paid up their mortgage toSamuel Terry on April 13, 1850 and on thefollowing May 1lth sold half interest in theirfirm to Anson G. Phelps for $7,200 Twomonths later Theodore Terry sold his entireinterest in the Bristol Brass & ClockCompany, probably labeling him "traitor" toits others investors.

On May 7,1850, Anson G. Phelps, TheodoreTerry and Franklin C. Andrews formed a jointstock corporation known as the "AnsoniaClock Company" for the manufacture andsale of clocks, movements and relatedwares. Some $100,000 capital was authorizedwith 4,000 shares sold at $25 each. Phelpsheld controlling interest with 1,334 shareswhile Terry and Andrews held 1,333 each.Theodore Terry was chosen President and hisson Hubbell P. Terry became secretary. Thenew location, Ansonia, was a village in thetown of Derby, CT which Anson Phelps hadnamed after himself.

The firm eventually utilized a two-story

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factory for the clock business which was inuse by January of 1851, though Phelps did notsell the property to the company and leasethem the water rights until April 12th of thatyear. This land was noted as being on thenorthwest comer of a lot on which also stooda stone factory owned by Phelps, which wasused by the Jerome Manufacturing Company

of New Haven.

During the first year of business, there was adefinite transition between the old firm ofTerry & Andrews and the Ansonia clockCompany. A few clocks are known with a fullprinted label of Terry & Andrews, Ansonia,and many clocks are known with labelsand/or movements marked Terry & Andrews,Bristol, yet with dials or otherwise marked

Ansonia Clock Company, Ansonia.

Franklin Andrews sold out all but one of hisshares in the business on December 20, 1851and even sold that single share to H P. Terryon November 18,1852. He remained at JerseyCity, NJ until his death in January of 1881 andoperated a New York clock store for many


During January of 1853, Anson Phelps sold1,000 shares of his Ansonia Clock Company

stock to his son-in-law, James B. Stokeswho was trustee for the firm of Phelps, Dodge& Co. The day preceding Phelps' death, hetransferred his remaining 1,000 shares toStokes. 1131 Phelps died at his New York Cityhome on November 30, 1853 at the age of 73.A rich and powerful man indeed hebequeathed $371,000 to charitableinstitutions as well as $ 100,000 to his sonand $5,000 each to his 24 grandchildren.

Ansonia was one of three Connecticut clockmanufacturing firms which exhibited at theNew York World's Fair which opened on July 4,1853. Ansonia primarily exhibited their castiron cased clocks ornamented with paint and

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mother-of-pearl. The other two exhibitorswere the Jerome Manufacturing Company ofNew Haven and the Litchfield Manufacturing

Company of Litchfield, the latter specializingin papier-maché clock cases.

With a transfer by James B. Stokes of his1,000 shares of clock company stock toPhelps, Dodge & Company during January of1845, the Phelps firm became the controllingstockholder with 2,000 shares while TheodoreTerry held 1,999 and Hubbell P. Terry heldone. 1151 Ansonia's business apparentlyproceeded well until about November of1854, when the factory was reduced to ashesat a loss estimated at $120,000. A meeting ofDirectors was held at Bridgeport, CT onNovember 15,1854, at which time thefollowing resolution was passed:

“That in consequence of the destruction ofthe Building by fire it has been agreed to sellthe Land & ruins to A. G. Phelps [Jr.], Win. E.Dodge, Daniel James, James Stokes, Wm. E.Downs, Jr. & D. Willis James for the sum ofEight Thousand Dollars and that thePresident be authorized to make and executea deed of the same."

The above resolution and sale on November

16, 1854 effectively ended the originalAnsonia Clock Company and sold thebalance of the firm to the Directors of Phelps,Dodge & Company. Theodore Terry thereafterbecame involved with P. T. Barnum, thegreat showman, in a clock venture called theTerry & Barnum Manufacturing Company untilits bankruptcy in March of 1856. He alsocontinued his clockmaking activities atTerryville, CT after 1855 for a few years underhis own name. He thereafter went toPennsylvania for a few years and became

involved in the oil business but returned toConnecticut by 1864 and died June 18, 1881 atNew Haven.

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For the 15 years following the 1854 fire, thehistory of clock manufacturing at Ansonia ismore difficult to follow. No official clockcompany was formed during these yearsthough the parent firm of Phelps, Dodge &Company continued to manufacture clockmovements and sell some cased clocks, butin relatively small numbers. Clocks from thisperiod are rarely seen today, but are usuallylabeled "Ansonia Brass Company" oftenshowing the factory, which was destroyed in1854 on the labels. A few clocks were alsolabeled "Ansonia Brass & Battery Company"during this period. The Ansonia Brass &Battery Mill, another operation of Phelps,Dodge & Company, reported in June of 1860the manufacture of 22,000 clock movements,but only 2,000 finished clocks during theprevious 12 months. They were primarily amovement supplier to the trade.

However, the clockmaking business became

a major operation with the reorganization ofthe Ansonia Brass & Battery Company as theAnsonia Brass & Copper Company onFebruary 11, 1869. Fourteen months later, 150were employed and some 90,000 pounds ofbrass had been utilized between June of 1869and June 1870 to produce 83,503 clocksvalued at $200,000. Clocks during this periodwere labeled "Ansonia Bras & CopperCompany", a name more commonly seen asthe production of finished clocks was much

greater during this period than the previousones (1854x69). The earliest price list of thisfirm, now known, is dated January 1, 1873and offers 45 models including 4 timepieces,12 lever wall clocks, 9 one day and 8eight-day spring-driven mantel clocks, 5weight driven shelf clocks and 7 office clocks.Fourteen different movements were beingproduced.

After eight years, another reorganizationtook place separating the brass mills and the

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clockmaking operation. On December 21,1877, a joint stock corporation was formed atNew York City adopting the original name,"Ansonia Clock Company". The incorporatorswere primarily the officers of Phelps, Dodge& Company, but one important exceptionwas Henry J. Davies of Brooklyn, a man

whose influence and leadership would bestrongly felt in coming years.

Little personal information is known aboutHenry J. Davies, but he had been involved inclockmaking pursuits in New York for some

years. He was obviously an inventor andcase designer and became President of thefirm while his brother, Walter, became

general superintendent of the factory. HenryDavies may have been largely responsiblefor the figurine clocks, swing clocks andother unusual novelties for which theAnsonia firm is highly regarded by clockcollectors.

In April of 1879, a large factory wascommenced at Brooklyn, New York and itsnew machinery installed in the spring of1880. One can only assume the choice ofBrooklyn had something to do with the factthat Henry Davies lived at that place.Brooklyn soon became the major

manufacturing site, though operations atAnsonia were not totally shut down untilabout 1883.

During the 12 months prior to June 1, 1880,the Ansonia operation in Connecticut utilized$200,000 worth of materials to produce anestimated $400,000 worth of clocks. They stillhad 100 men and 25 women working there. AtBrooklyn they had 360 hands working, thoughthey reported only $440,000 worth of clocksproduced from $280,000 in raw materials,indicating they bad not been in productionfor the entire 12 months period. Bothfactories paid a total of $260,000 in wagesthat year and a skilled worker was earning

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$2.50 a day and ordinary laborers $1.25 aday.

However, it was only a few months after thisreporting on October 27, 1880, the Brooklynfactory was totally destroyed by fire. TheHartford Times claimed the fire was causedby an explosion of leaking gas and noted theloss at $750,000 with only $250,000 insured.The New York Times reported:

"The fire is supposed to have originated inthe drying room, where a large amount ofwood was seasoning. About 2 o'clock in themorning the night watchman, while on thefourth floor, heard a dull heavy sound, likethat made by an explosion. ... A strong windwas blowing, and before the engines arrivedthe flames had made considerableheadway.... Three additional engines arrived,but no efforts could save the building or itscontents. ... When the roof gave way with aterrific crash, a great pillar of fire reareditself up and lighted the heavens for milesaround. At 7 o'clock yesterday morning allthat remained of the factory was the burnedand blackened walls."

Despite the setback, the firm immediately

erected a new building and within a fewyears the entire clockmaking operation wascentered at Brooklyn. Annual statements

during the 1880's show the firm remained

financially strong. By 1886, they reported$600,000 worth of stock on hand, a quarter ofa million dollars due them for sales and nodebts.

By January of 1883, Ansonia had sales offices

in New York, Chicago and London. By 1886,they offered 228 clocks and by 1914, thisnumber had grown to almost 450! They hadbecome especially known for theiriron-cased clocks, often with white metal

figurines, clocks with imported china casesand crystal regulators. Non-jeweled watches

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were added to their line in 1904 and producedan estimated 10 million of these by 1929. By1914, they had agents in Australia, NewZealand, Japan, China, India and exportedlarge quantities of clocks to these andeighteen other countries.

During World War I, few trade materials seemto have been published, but in 1920, thecatalog shows their offerings had greatlychanged in numbers and quality. The items,which formerly had comprised most of theircatalog such as black iron clocks, figurineclocks and china-cased clocks, had all beendiscontinued. Only 136 clock and 9 watchmodels were offered in 1920, and by 1927,the number had dropped to 47 clocks and 3watches.

At a lecture presented in Swampscott Mass.on April 13, 1968, Edward Ingraham noted thefollowing, which may account, in part, forAnsonia's rapid decline:

"After a clock meeting, possibly about 1910,in which members of the industry agreed toestablish certain prices, our then SalesManager, Elmer E. Stockton, caught one oftheir [Ansonia's] officials telephoning tocustomers evidently offering deals at 'oldpricing.' [Stockton] evidently confirmed thisbecause he went after all of Ansonia'sprincipal accounts and ended up taking awayall of that business from Ansonia, whichhaving lost its volume business, went downand out."

Though the above must be classed asheresay, it appears to have merit. Anobservation of the product line wouldsuggest this event may occurred after 1910,more likely about 1915, since the declineseems great between 1915 and 1920. It issignificant that their decline occurred prior tothe Great Depression and, in fact the sale ofthe company took place some months prior

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to the stock market crash.

By the mid-1920s, the company wasdefinitely in trouble. In July of 1926, they soldtheir five-story Brooklyn warehouse. Theend culminated with the sale of the firm toSoviet Russia's Amtorg Trading Corporation.This sale, along with that of Canton, Ohio'sDueber-Hampden Watch Company, wasnoted in the New York Times on September

10, 1929. Some workmen from both Cantonand Brooklyn went to Russia for up to 18months to get the machinery in operationand train Russian workers. These operationsbecame the nucleus of Moscow's factoriesNo. 1 and No. 2, both established in 1930.They were in full operation in 1956 and arelikely so today as Russia is still producingmechanical timekeepers.

An interesting letter was written in 1947 toMr. Edward Ingraham, President of the E.Ingraham Company, by Mr. E. Cantelo White,formerly President of Ansonia and thenassociated with the Tork Clock Company. Mr.White, who then still owned the Ansoniatrademark stated:

"The sale of machinery to the AmtorgCorporation, which you refer, was negotiatedby me in 1929. The clock orders, which wefelt obligated to fill, were not completed until1930. The machinery was boxed and shippedabout the end of that year. ... We have aboutcompleted arrangements for a greatlyincreased production of Ansonia Clocks in1948, including types suitable for export."

Apparently, the plans for a 1948 re-entry ofAnsonia clocks to the marketplace did notmaterialize, though the trademark has beenused in the last decade by a Linwood,Washington sales operation on clocksimported.

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