The White House has an impressive display of Antique mechanical clocks – American, French and English – throughout the tourist accessed areas.
Many have been in the collection since 19th Century Presidents walked the halls of the White House. In all, there are about 86 antique mechanical clocks throughout the White House. These pictures are only those that can be seen on the White House tour.
Bracket Clock. This mahogany bracket clock gives an American flavor to a traditionally British form by the use of an American eagle on the strike dial. (New York, c 1785-90)
Mantel Clock. President Ulysses S. Grant (1869-77) selected this marble clock when he redecorated his Cabinet Room in 1869. The marble and malachite case also contains a barometer, thermometer, and perpetual calendar. (France, c. 1869)
Mantel Clock. With works designed by Lousi Mallet, this French gilded bronze clock features George Washington in his general’s uniform. It was donated to the White House in 1960. (France, c. 1816). See the final picture to see if you can spot this clock with the White House Clockmaker.
Mantel Clock. On display at in the Entrance Hallway at the North Portico entrance. This French beauty is the first clock one sees when attending a state dinner or event, and the last clock you’ll see on a White House tour.
Mantel Clock. On display over a fire place in the Red Room.
Mantel Clock. On display over a fire place in the Green Room. This room is used for small receptions and teas.
With 86 clocks, wonder who has the pleasure of keeping America’s clocks going? Read more about the White House Clock Man:
He’s Having a Great Time as White House Clock Man
Ask the White House: http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/ask/20030605.html
Mary, from Bethesda, MD writes:
Hi Mr. Allman, How many grandfather clocks are in the Whitehouse, their age, and origins? Do they all chime? I’ve really enjoyed the Whitehouse for the first time thanks to this website. Thank you all very much.
Dear Mary: The White House collection includes some very fine American tall case clocks, often called grandfather clocks. For most of these, the clocksmith has marked the dial with his name, such as a clock outside the Family Dining Room by the noted Massachusetts maker, Aaron Willard, c.1800. For these, the cabinetmaker who made the wonderful mahogany cases are not identified. In contrast, there is a truly magnificent clock in the President’s Oval Office, one often seen on television, on which the dial is unmarked, but the case bears the initials of the cabinetmaker, John Seymour of Boston. The inlays on the case are fantastic and very characteristic of Seymour’s work. By direction of President Harry Truman, the chimes on all clocks have been turned off. Keeping old clocks in perfect synchronicity so that they sound together, would be nearly impossible.