Eli Terry

Detail of Eli Terry from an engraving by Samuel Sartain from The History of Waterbury Connecticut by Henry Bronson

Eli Terry, Sr. (1772-1852)

Eli Terry is considered the father of the American mass-production clock industry. Born in East Windsor in 1772, Terry apprenticed himself to clockmaker Daniel Burnap at age 14 before opening his own business in 1793. Four years later, Terry received the first clock patent granted by the United States Patent Office—one of 10 such patents awarded to Terry during his lifetime. By both mass-producing popular wooden shelf clocks, as well as designing more sophisticated brass-geared clocks for sale overseas, Eli Terry helped make the area later renamed Terryville the leading clock-making center in the United States by the time of the Revolutionary War.

More on Eli Terry from the CT Digital Archive

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Clock works by Daniel Burnap

Marking Time: Early Connecticut Innovations Transform Clock Making

During the 18th and 19th centuries, Connecticut played a major role in transforming clock making from a time-intensive handcraft into a mass-production industry.  …[more]

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“American Clock & Watch Museum,” 2017. Link.


Terry, Eli. Patent Number 4,139 - Suspending Balance-Wheels Of Clocks. 4,139. Plymouth,  CT, issued August 9, 1845. Link.
Yale University - Discover Yale Digital Content. “Shelf Clock by Eli Terry,” 2013. Link.
Yale University - Discover Yale Digital Content. “Tall Clock by Eli Terry,” 2013. Link.


Roberts, Kenneth D. Eli Terry and the Connecticut Shelf Clock. Bristol, CT: Ken Roberts Publishing Company, 1973.
Taylor, Snowden. The Developmental Era of Eli Terry and Seth Thomas Shelf Clocks. Fitzwilliam, NH: K. Roberts Publishing Company, 1985.