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Thomas Jefferson's Private Clock


Designed by Thomas Jefferson, executed by Louis Chantrot. If the Great Clock in the Hall was the most important public clock at Monticello, the Obelisk Clock was Jefferson's most important private one.

Jefferson used the tall, pyramid-like shape of the ancient obelisk for a new clock that was commissioned from the leading French clockmaker, Louis Chantrot. The black marble and gilded bronze pendulum clock arrived in Philadelphia in 1791, while Jefferson was serving as Secretary of State. After he retired to Monticello, the clock sat at the foot of his alcove bed, where he could see the hands of the clock immediately upon waking each morning.

Inspired by this historic clock, The Shop at Monticello now offers an adaptation featuring a case of maple hardwood crafted in Virginia. The solid brass clock, made by Hermle of Germany, features a 7-day, key-wound mechanical brass movement that chimes each hour and half hour, evoking the sounds and rhythms of life at Jefferson’s Monticello. Visit for more information.

The image of the Jefferson letter and clock sketch was provided by: Thomas Jefferson Papers, Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, College of William and Mary.


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